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I Belong


Early Review: Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat

Between the NotesTitle: Between the Notes

Author: Sharon Huss Roat

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: June 16, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062291726 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062291721 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Zed

Synopsis

After Ivy is forced to move to “the wrong side of the tracks” due to economic hard times, she discovers that not everything—or everyone—is what they seem, even herself. Fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen will love this funny, poignant, and relatable story.

When Ivy Emerson’s family loses their house—complete with her beloved piano—the fear of what’s to come seizes her like a bad case of stage fright. Forced to give up her allowance, her cell phone, and the window seat in her lilac-colored bedroom, Ivy moves with her family from her affluent neighborhood to Lakeside, aka “the wrong side of the tracks.” Hiding the truth from her friends—and the cute new guy in school, who may have secrets of his own—seems like a good idea at first. But when the bad-boy-next door threatens to ruin everything, Ivy’s carefully crafted lies begin to unravel . . . and there is no way to stop them.

Once things get to the breaking point, Ivy turns to her music, some surprising new friends, and the trusting heart of her disabled little brother. And she may be surprised that not everyone is who she thought they were . . . including herself.

Quick & Dirty: Irritating and rather shallow female protagonist. Story improves on reading but was difficult to relate to.

Opening Sentences: I came home from school on a Thursday in early September to find my parents sitting on the couch in the front room waiting for me. I knew immediately something wasn’t right.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Between the Notes is one of those books that starts off not so great, but luckily it improved as the story progressed. Ivy is used to a life of luxury so it comes as a major shock when her family loses everything and they are driven to move to the poorest part of town. Their lifestyle changes to make ends meet and forces Ivy to reconsider her priorities, particularly the things she took for granted.

I would have liked to know why exactly the family struggled so much in terms of their financial problems because it wasn’t very clear what went wrong. Ivy’s father made some mistakes at work that put the family in grave debt, but there wasn’t anything else to go on, which made it harder to believe that someone living in a mansion one week would be forced to visit food banks the next!

Another thing I did not like was Ivy’s character; I did not like her at all. Her selfishness was astounding, especially her judgemental behaviour, which bites her in the back because now people look down on her instead of the other way around. I found it strange that Ivy wastes her time whining about not having enough money instead of helping out at home by getting a job or doing odd chores; she just seems to be hell bent on making the rest of her family feel worse than they already do. She spends all her efforts trying to devise convoluted ways to continue pretending she’s not poor and everything is just as it used to be. It’s like she’s in a long-term version of denial.

“Truth is overrated,” he said. “It’s hardly ever as good as what you imagine.”
I nodded, keeping my eye on the yellow window until it disappeared from sight. We drove in silence for a few minutes. My relationship with the truth was complicated at the moment, and if James wanted to stick to imagination, I was all in favour.

It was pretty obvious who the notes were from but I was surprised that it took so long for Ivy to work it out, actually given her shallowness I shouldn’t have been. I guess her character improved on reading, and she did become semi-tolerable towards the end, but on the whole, I think Lenny should have dated Molly instead; she’s kinder and less of a user!

Both Lenny and James have their charms and I can see why Ivy was attracted to them. James has the charming-billionaire-but-will-prove-myself-on-my-own thing going on, whilst Lennie looks like a bad boy with his big build, shiny red jeep and tattoos, but his sweet personality amazed me.

The only positive thing I can say for this book is that it forces the reader not to believe everything they see or hear, but to acknowledge that sometimes there is far more than meets the eye, and it’s usually the people that you don’t expect it from that will surprise you the most.

Notable Scene:

“We have to do this for Brady,” she said quietly. “We need the money. If he doesn’t get the therapy now…”

“I know, Mum.” I strode to my room before she could remind me how much the sacrifices we made now would mean for Brady’s future. Even with twenty hours a week of therapy-speech and physical and occupational-his life would be a constant struggle. Without it, he didn’t have a chance. Didn’t I want the best for him? I would say, “Of course I do.” Because I did. I only wished it didn’t mean the worst for the rest of us.

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FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Between the Notes. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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