The Space Between by Michelle L Teichman is YA romance. We (Brooklyn and Tara) enjoyed reading and reviewing The Caphenon together so much that we decided to do it again in a different genre!
Harper Isabelle is the leader of the grade nine cool crowd as soon as she walks into her first day of high school, thanks to her older sister Bronte. Bronte is the Queen Bee of the entire school and she has been molding Harper in her likeness for years.
As a shy artist, inclined to keep to herself, Sarah has never been good at socializing. Kids often bully her in school, especially cruel about her stutter and her alternative style, despite her popular twin brother, Tyler. It doesn’t help that she’s a pastor’s kid, with all of the extra restrictions Evangelical girls have put upon them.
Harper is rounding a corner on her way to class when she crashes into Sarah. The moment the two girls come face to face, their worlds collide and a chain reaction is set off. From friendship to confusing feelings, there is no going back and no denying the feelings developing between them, even as Harper dates Tyler.
Brooklyn: Sarah and Tyler are fraternal twins. By just 5 minutes, Sarah is Tyler’s older sister. The two lead completely separate lifestyles. Tyler is popular and a natural with girls. Sarah is a loner with a stuttering problem, especially when she’s nervous, and often finds herself bullied by the other children.
Tara: I identified with Sarah the most out of all of the characters in the book. No, I wasn’t bullied, but I was raised in a Baptist church and my dad was a Deacon for many years, so the atmosphere in her home and church were so familiar that I had to put the book down and walk away for a while. Sarah’s fear of her feelings was real and I knew exactly where she was coming from. I was also so frustrated for her, but not at all surprised, when I saw the relative freedom her parents gave Tyler versus how they treated her.
Brooklyn: Harper and Bronte are sisters. Bronte has spent years raising and pruning Harper to be the cool kid, whether by teaching her how to do her hair, what kind of boys to date, or how to smoke. Their parents are lawyers and they never seem to be home. Harper is a brave soul—she might not know who she is, but she’s determined to find out.
Sarah and Harper are always being sheltered by the people around them and want to please the people they care most about instead of what they truly want for themselves.
Tara: That’s a great point about each of them wanting to please the people closest to them. I think that inclination is what makes each of their arcs interesting as they move from that to having to make a decision about what they want most: popularity and acceptance or a meaningful relationship with each other.
Brooklyn: Also, Ms. Cox is a SEXY school teacher. She takes no shenanigans in her classroom and reminds me of a wise owl.
Tara: *laughs* I… am not surprised that you said this.
The Writing Style
Brooklyn: The story flip flops between Harper’s point of view and Sarah’s. It was a cute romance. The story slowly escalated until I found myself frantically reading at night around 1:00 am just to finish the book.
Tara: The Space Between is written in a way that’s easy to read with great pacing. And Brooklyn, I know what you mean! I also found myself having a hard time putting it down once I got past the initial setup of the religious side of Sarah’s life. I have to admit I was a little afraid I might not like this because I’m not typically into YA fiction, but I really enjoyed it and regret that I didn’t have a book like this to read when I was in high school.
Brooklyn: The flurry of emotions and giddiness of first love was well written. The story reminded me of how I felt in high school.
Tara: First of all, it’s by a Canadian author and is set in Canada! I don’t see that often in lesbian fiction, so I’m excited whenever I do. Secondly, I really liked the way the author realistically portrays how a kid growing up in an Evangelical environment might struggle as she finds herself attracted to another girl.
Brooklyn: This is solely a personal opinion, but it’s hard for me to get past the fact that Harper is with Tyler, Sarah’s brother, yet Sarah could still want her. Also, there was one internal monologue by a character that made me stop reading to double check I hadn’t accidentally gone backwards in my book.
Tara: This is a spoiler, so feel free to skip to the conclusion. Still here? I don’t like that we never see Sarah come out to her parents. So much care is taken to outline her faith and her fear of how much she’ll lose if people know about her relationship with Harper, so the whole time I was reading The Space Between, I wondered how her parents would react. And then…? There wasn’t anything. This isn’t a dealbreaker and I still loved the book, but it feels like a missed opportunity.
Brooklyn: I liked reading this book, especially with Tara. I would recommend reading it with a buddy.
Tara: I also loved buddy reading this book! The Space Between is well worth a read, and is especially important to give to queer kids you know in religious homes so they can experience the validation of seeing themselves. That representation is what takes The Space Between from a great book to an important book and I look forward to see what comes next from Michelle L. Teichman.
Excerpt from The Space Between by Michelle L Teichman
“Do you think she’s pretty?” Had she lost her mind? Why was she asking her that?
Sarah didn’t say anything, but the almost imperceptible nod of her head told Harper everything she needed to know. “And Nikki Sanders?” Why couldn’t she just shut up?
“I guess, yeah.”
Jealousy burned in her chest again. Funny, she never felt this way when she saw Tyler talking to other girls. She was happy he had a distraction. “Do you think I’m pretty?” She asked what she’d really wanted to know.
Sarah looked down. “You…You know I do.”
Her chest warmed with a different sensation. She wanted Sarah to say more, so she pushed her. “Do you think they’re prettier than I am?”
Sarah’s breath hitched before she answered. “You’re the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen.”
Harper grinned wildly at her words, but it was short-lived.
“I bet Tyler loves your dress.”
Her heart fell. “I didn’t wear it for Tyler.”
“Wh-who did you wear it for?” Sarah bit her lip[…]
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9783955335816
- Publisher: Ylva publishing
Michelle L Teichman
Note: I received a free review copy of this book for review. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.