Title: Read Between the Lines
Author: Jo Knowles
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Does anyone ever see us for who we really are? Jo Knowles’s revelatory novel of interlocking stories peers behind the scrim as it follows nine teens and one teacher through a seemingly ordinary day.Thanks to a bully in gym class, unpopular Nate suffers a broke finger—the middle one, splinted to flip off the world. It won’t be the last time a middle finger is raised this day. Dreamer Claire envisions herself sitting in an artsy café, filling a journal, but fate has other plans. One cheerleader dates a closeted basketball star; another questions just how, as a “big girl,” she fits in. A group of boys scam drivers for beer money without remorse—or so it seems. Over the course of a single day, these voices and others speak loud and clear about the complex dance that is life in a small town. They resonate in a gritty and unflinching portrayal of a day like any other, with ordinary traumas, heartbreak, and revenge. But on any give day, the line where presentation and perception meet is a tenuous one, so hard to discern. Unless, of course, one looks a little closer—and reads between the lines.
Until now, I hadn’t read any of Jo Knowles’s previous books but they had always caught my eye. So when I was given the opportunity to read Read Between the Lines I decided to take the plunge. The premise sounded interesting and though it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, I still really enjoyed reading this story.
Life in a small town is never easy. Who you are in kindergarten is who you will be for the rest of your life. Or so it seems when you’re in highs school. Breaking out of people’s perceptions of you is easier said than done, and sometimes might not even be worth it. It might just be easier to be who people want you to be until you can get out. If you can get out. The truth about small towns is that everyone has something they are trying to hide, a way they wish other people would see them. And on any given day, whether they want it or not, people’s lives intersect in ways that can’t be predicted to mixed results.
When I first read the premise for Read Between the Lines, I was definitely curious about the idea of a story that looks at ten different people and the way their lives intersect or are connected. I had some ideas about what that kind of story might look like but not real definite picture. However, I couldn’t have predicted the story that I ended up getting. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. At all. In a way, this story almost feels more like you’re reading ten short stories that are all connected to one another. That’s because each of the ten “sections” of the book is told from a different person’s perspective. I’m not going to lie, at first the format confused me a little. each of the section sort of felt like they ended abruptly and I wanted to know wha would happen next to that person, but I never really got to see that. Instead, the story moved on to the next person and what was happening in their lives. And that definitely took some getting used to. But after reading a couple sections, I realized that people who were mentioned in passing in one section were then the main focus of one of the following sections and they would continue popping up in the other parts the book. So when you look at them separately, the different sections of the book don’t really make much sense. But when looked at as a whole, Jo Knowles has painted a pretty accurate portrait of what life in a small town can be like. How nothing is never really as it seems, and everyone has misconceptions about everyone. It was just really interesting reading and seeing how it was all connected, how every seemed linked to each other through the smallest of things. It was definitely a different read for me, but it was still one that was interesting and that I really liked and enjoyed.
If you’re looking for something a little different, I would strongly recommend Jo Knowles’ Read Between the Lines. This story will definitely get you thinking about passing judgement and being judged. Though it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, I still really enjoyed this story.