Culture Street

By Sophia Whitfield

Fairy Tales are the new vampire books. With the emergence of films Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsmen, fairy tales have been given a makeover. Young adults now relish the fantastical and somewhat morbid world as first told by the Grimm’s Brothers.

Jodi Picoult and her daughter Samantha have taken the fairy tale concept a step further with reality meeting fantasy. Side by side Picoult and her daughter penned this book during the weekends over a two-year period. This fairy tale has more of the magical enchanted fairy tale feel about it then the dark undercurrents that often run through classic fairy tales. The front cover sets the scene with mermaids, swords and crowns floating above a child reading a book.

The book is written in Picoult style with each chapter being told from a different character’s point of view, alternating between the two protagonists, Delilah and Oliver.

Delilah hates school as much as she loves books. There is only one book she is interested in – a battered old fairy tale she discovered in the library. She soon becomes obsessed with Between the Lines  (the fairy tale) and her mother deeply concerned as she witnesses her daughter withdraw from daily life.

Oliver, Prince Charming in Between the Lines, becomes enamoured with Delilah. When Delilah opens the book to page 43 the story becomes real as Oliver comes to life on the page. Soon Delilah becomes embroiled in the magical world of the handsome prince complete with mermaids, a queen, a villain and a few others.

In interviews Picoult has said that she was not happy to write this book for her daughter. Picoult’s daughter pitched the idea to her mother and they began writing it together on the proviso that her daughter put the work into writing the book. A wise decision given that the 15-year-old Delilah is the age Samantha would have been during the process of writing this book.

Delilah’s voice is completely believable with references to popular culture throughout the book. She refers to the popular girls at school as ‘Pod People’ and references the latest fan fiction, "In my English journal, I’ll write down that I’ve been reading The Hunger Games for my outside requirement (like 98% of the ninth grade)." At one stage, in desperation, Delilah’s mother tries to entice her into reading something other than he battered fairy tale, "Then maybe you’d like this instead … I haven’t read it but the librarian says it’s all the rage with girls in your grade. Apparently there’s a werewolf who falls in love with a mermaid. It’s supposed to be the new Twilight."

Colour and black and white cameo illustrations add to the magic of this modern fairy tale. Upper primary and high school students will enjoy this pacey authentic read, full of humour and hope.

Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer are about to embark on a tour of Australia. Fans can follow the Australian tour on Facebook.

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