Review Blog

Jul 03 2013

Between the lives by Jessica Shirvington

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HarperCollins, 2013. ISBN 9780732296261
Every 24 hours, seventeen year old Sabine lives in either Wellesley, Massachusetts, or in Roxbury, Boston. How? She doesn't really know but it has been her reality for as long as she can remember.
In Wellesley she has two brothers whom she prefers to ignore while in Roxbury she has a little sister that she worships and who worships her in return. In Wellesley she has money, lots of it, and all that it can buy. In Roxbury she has attitude, her sister and little else other than parents who are determined that her life will be better, read wealthier, than theirs.
Between the Lives observes Sabine's overwhelming desire to live just one life, to be normal, as she is tired of ensuring that the Sabine of one life doesn't leak into the life of the other. Both of her lives are believable, her experiences those of a young woman trying to define who she is and where she belongs, never an easy task but, in Sabine's case, made doubly difficult.
In both lives Sabine yearns to live only one life and when she breaks her arm all sorts of possibilities arise. Sabine realises that she has a chance, or what she hopes is a chance, to determine her future, to actually choose one life to live. But which life? And if she is wrong what then?
Shirvington has created an interesting concept which she manages with adroitness as Sabine risks all. There is just enough detail to allow the reader to accept Sabine's two lives, her experiences in each, and her ultimate actions.
And yet would any of us be willing to sacrifice so much, to turn our backs on a life and everyone in it without a backward glance, without regrets? People from all walks of life do occasionally do this in a variety of ways. The one niggling concern is that Sabine's option shouldn't be seen as an option for those who read her story.
Ros Lange

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