Ever heard of Kleine-Levin Syndrome? Neither had I. It’s also called Sleeping Beauty Syndrome, if that gives you a clue what it’s all about. Bryn, the main character in Laekan Zea Kemp’s YA novel, The Girl In Between, suffers from sleep. She falls asleep suddenly and sleeps for days or weeks at a time, waking to find whole chunks of her life missing. She has dealt with this mind-boggling disease since she was 12, and since it’s so rare, there is no cure, only new studies to take part in and wishful thinking.
But Bryn’s problems are even deeper than the average KLS. See, when she goes into the sleep state, she doesn’t just lose consciousness like other KLS sufferers. She goes somewhere else. Her dream place is full of her own childhood memories: places she’s been, things she has owned, houses in which she has lived. She is always there alone, living a whole other life in her memories.
Until. Until one day, a boy her age washes up from the ocean that surrounds her dream place. He has no memory of who he is, where he came from, or what he’s doing there. And every time Bryn falls prey to KLS, he is there. Bryn spends her waking time trying to be normal, dealing with her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Drew (who is a real class act, let me tell you), and trying to get over her absent father (who could be lumped with Drew for all his charm), while grappling with the idea of her mother being in a new relationship, but after the boy shows up, she is determined to find out why he is in her head and how to get him out of there.
This boy is different. He doesn’t treat Bryn like she’s some freak of nature the way her classmates do. He looks at her and Sees her, unlike Drew. And as Bryn races against time to solve the mystery of him, she also begins to fall in love with him.
In the meantime, new doctors from Germany show up with a new medication that might help her. But her episodes are coming closer and closer together and she just knows she has to find the boy in the real world before she falls asleep for good.
Because shadows have started showing up in the dream state. And they’re bleeding into her waking life. And she doesn’t know what they want, only that they intend her harm.
Yeah, it’s a good book.
But it’s not just a riveting story. It’s also full of real-life insights that hold true whether you’re 17 or 57. Like this gem concerning Drew: “For every girl in the history of girls there is always that one guy she can’t seem to shake,” or this one: “That’s what they do. They cut you into pieces with lies and false apologies and those three little words that manage to gut you in just the right way.”
We’ve all known That Guy, haven’t we?
This book is amazing for teens who are dealing with something beyond their control, especially health issues, because it lets them know they aren’t alone and that their feelings and reactions are perfectly acceptable. It’s also an intriguing mystery with a little believable fantasy thrown in. Finally, it’s a pretty cool love story with a lesson about how a girl should be treated in a relationship and how she should not.
You know I’m not about reading levels, but I say ‘teen’ here because there is a bit of realistic language peppered throughout. Not a whole lot, not overwhelmingly so, but a couple of F-bombs are dropped. I found that they were used mostly only to make a point and, let’s be honest, I’m not offended by it. However, I don’t necessarily want my Littles thinking it’s an okay thing, so I have to warn you–if you’re thinking of picking up this genuinely good book for your kid, just know that it’s a little PG in that respect.
But even if you don’t want your littles reading F-bombs, pick it up for yourself. Or your sister. Because wow.