Between the Lines Summary

Jodi Picoult, Samantha van Leer

Between the Lines

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Between the Lines Summary

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Between the Lines is a young adult romantic fantasy novel, co-authored by bestseller Jodi Picoult and her teenaged daughter, Samantha van Leer. The book follows fifteen-year-old Delilah, a bookworm and loner, who falls in love with a character from a favorite childhood book. After a particularly troubling day, Delilah confides in Prince Oliver, the book’s main character, and to her surprise, Prince Oliver talks back. As Delilah talks with Oliver more and more, they begin to fall in love.

The book opens with Delilah, whose father has left her family and whose mother, though wonderfully endearing, is over-protective of her only child. Delilah’s best friend, Jules, is into punk rock and has isolated herself from her peers by choice – Delilah, on the other hand, has been named a loner by force because she accidentally injured the most popular girl in school, a cheerleader named Ally McAndrews. To manage her loneliness and isolation, Delilah reads books and imagines what her missing father might be like.

Looking for another book to fill her many free hours, Delilah wanders into the school library where her attention is captured by a fantasy novel for children. The book is called Between the Lines and features the charming, though sometimes cowardly, Prince Oliver on a quest to defeat the villain Rapscullio and save the princess Seraphima. Delilah adores the book, particularly the thoughtful Prince Oliver, and reads it over and over again. Much of the book consists of fragments from the narrative of the fictional Between the Lines, and the fairy tale unfolds slowly over the course of the book.

One morning, when she is trying to avoid real life by flipping through the pages of Between the Lines, Delilah notices something odd. One of the book’s illustrations, which fill the beginning pages of each chapter, has changed slightly. There is a small grid, which looks a bit like a chessboard, where there hadn’t been anything before. Delilah is confused, but she can’t look for much longer because her mother yells for her to get ready for school. Delilah puts the book in her backpack to investigate later.

At school, Delilah talks to Jules and tries to show her the illustration with the changes inside. When she opens the book, however, the grid is no longer there. Confused and disappointed, Delilah closes the book and waits until she has a free moment to open the book alone. She flips to the page with the changing illustration and finds a small message in the print – it reads, “Help Me.” Drawn to help the characters she loves so much, Delilah begins to speak to the book. To her surprise, her favorite character, the lovely Prince Oliver, starts to talk back.

Oliver reveals some surprising secrets about the word of Between the Lines – namely, that the characters aren’t actually much like the roles they play in the story. Instead, each character has a life of their own beyond the pages of the book, and they come together to play a part each time someone opens the book to read. Delilah is shocked and amazed at this world within the fictional universe.

Prince Oliver reveals that he doesn’t love Princess Seraphima. He finds her flighty and arrogant in her life off the page. His mother in the book, the esteemed Queen Maureen, is just a kind older lady who enjoys reading recipe books. Similarly, the notorious villain Rapscullio is quite peaceful in his hidden life. He makes pastry and collects butterflies, and is generally quite kind to Oliver. As Delilah and Oliver become closer, Oliver reveals that he is sick of playing the same part over and over again, trapped in this fictional universe that doesn’t allow him any freedom or imagination.

As the book progresses, Delilah and Oliver begin to fall in love – they want to save each other from their mundane lives and to support each other through the struggles of being fatherless. The only problem, of course, is that Oliver is trapped in a book. As Delilah begins to seem more and more insane to her mother and friends, and to disappear more and more from real life, the two begin to wonder whether its possible to pull Oliver from the pages, bringing him into the incredible real world beyond the book’s cover.

Jodi Picoult is the best-selling author of dozens of books and has won many awards for her work. Her most well-known books include My Sister’s Keeper, which was adapted into a feature film, and Nineteen Minutes, a book about a school shooting which put Picoult on the map. Many of her books have been adapted into Lifetime Original Movies. Her daughter, Samantha van Leer, has co-authored two books with her mother – Between the Lines and its follow-up novel, Off the Page.