Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Sharon Huss Roat
Ivy Emerson has a nice, predictable life. She has a close group of friends, her piano, and her loving family, including her disabled brother, Brady. Despite her intense stage fright, her life is perfect. That is, until her parents break the news that that life no longer exists. Before she knows it, her family has sold most of their possessions and moved out of their large, beautiful home and she ends up in Lakeside, the poor neighborhood in town no one likes. Between adjusting to her new lifestyle, keeping up appearances with her judgmental friends, enjoying the attention of the cutest boy in school, James, and avoiding interactions with her new neighbor “Loser” Lennie and his gang, Ivy feels herself changing into someone she doesn’t recognize. By finding the courage to conquer her stage fright and help her family, she learns that though the move to Lakeside has changed her, that change has been for the better.
Ultimately, the strength of Between the Notes lies in its characters. The author really gets the reader inside the mind of a teenage girl that’s just been through a massive life change and brings them along for the journey, and makes it believable and relatable. Through stirring scenes like her and her mother using food stamps for the first time, we see the transformation of Ivy from a typical wealthy teen into one that has lived through something she originally thought was horrifyingly impossible. Seeing Ivy’s views change on her family, her new house, her old friend group, Reesa, and especially Lennie is very rewarding. Secondary characters are also generally well-written and feel real. Though the story’s romantic outcome will be no surprise to the reader, the romance itself is warming and refreshing. Between the Notes’ heartfelt message will resonate with readers, making this book a good addition to a YA bookshelf. However, unnecessary strong language may be off-putting to some readers.
* Contains severe language.