Book Review: The Girl In Between
Author: Laekan Zea Kemp
Published By: Laekan Zea Kemp
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Page Count: 228
Source: eBook sent from author
Audience: Young Adult – contemporary fantasy – dream world
From the very first page, this book had me intrigued. I loved the storyline, the characters and how they all interact with each other, and the imagery. This story is about love, not just between a guy and a girl, but also among family and friends and the pain and heartache that love can sometimes cause. It is about struggle, everyday realities and the even bigger, rarer struggles. I didn't want to stop reading, I was emotionally involved in these characters and their outcome.
The story is about a girl, Bryn, who has a very rare neurological disease, Klein-Levin Syndrome, that causes her to sleep for long periods of time, weeks and sometimes even months. Bryn struggles to put her life back together every time she wakes up from an episode. In her waking life, she has a tired, overly protective mom that takes care of her every time she is asleep, a superstitious grandmother, an on again off again abusive boyfriend, a loving uncle who is more like a father, two best friends who are in love with each other but refuse to admit it, and an absent father.
Her sleeping state is much more peaceful, a dream world made up of beautiful and loving memories from her past. She is the only person in this ever changing landscape, sitting on the beach or in her grandparents home waiting to wake up, until one day a strange teenage boy washes up on the shore of the beach with no memory of who he is or how he got there.
The two of them work together to find clues as to who he is and if he is even real or just a figment of Bryn's dream world and disease. When Bryn disappears to the real world, she juggles catching up on what she missed with finding out who the strange boy is and he stays behind just waiting for her to return. Along with his sudden appearance, other things are changing with Bryn's disease. She is seeing things before they happen, and dark shadows seem to be stalking her in both worlds. When they find out the truth, it's a rush to save them both.
Kemp has created two worlds that are indelibly linked by two strong characters. Before you even know who the boy is, you are already rooting for him. With no memories and no back story, he still stands out as someone you want to love and get to know. You can actually feel the pain Bryn suffers from every time she wakes from her dream world and has to put the pieces of her life back together, reassure her mom that she is fine, even when she's not. Both teenagers are strong and brave, characters you can fall in love with.
Every character seems to have a memorable presence on the page, whether it is the girl Bryn's ex-boyfriend cheated on her with, or the grandmother picking rosemary from the garden and tying it to Bryn's wrist every time she sleeps. What I love about this story is that not only do you see how the disease affects Bryn, you also see how it affects the people in her life, the struggles they deal with while she sleeps.
The imagery captured in this story is stunning. You can see everything described in Bryn's dream world so clearly and even in the real world. For me, a requirement in a really good book is when an author can create a story and there is no struggle to make sense of what they are describing. Kemp has fulfilled that requirement with ease.
I was sorely disappointed when the book ended. So many things brought up in the story were unfinished, answers not found, and I wanted those answers, the closure of a really brilliant book. Upon finishing the book, I immediately looked up Laeken Zea Kemp on the internet, and sighed in relief when I saw that there was in fact a sequel, The Boy in Her Dreams. I truly loved the beginning of Bryn and Roman's story and cannot wait to continue reading it.
One Last Thought: The timeline in the real world was sometimes hard to follow, I would have to go back a couple times and reread to make sure I hadn't missed something.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The quest to find out who the mystery guy is in Bryn's dream world.
First Sentence: The tide surged, carving a crescent in the sand.
Favorite Character: Roman
Least Favorite Character: Drew
Bryn Reyes is a real life sleeping beauty. Afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome, she suffers episodes of prolonged sleep that steal weeks, and sometimes even months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, she doesn’t spend each episode in a catatonic state or wake up with no recollection of the time she’s missed. Instead, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the illusory beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.
But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, her body weakening as she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals that he knows more about her strange symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns that the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive.