The Girl In Between is the first of a brand new Young Adult fantasy/paranormal series of the same title, written by author Laekan Zea Kemp. I found it a fascinating, original read that was mysterious, and strangely, calming at the same time. You can also find the sequels, The Boy in Her Dreams and The Children of the Moon, on Amazon and Goodreads. And for a great start, The Girl In Between is currently FREE on Amazon! (Please note that prices are subject to change.)
Author: Laekan Zea Kemp
Genre: YA fantasy/paranormal
Date released: September 30th, 2014
Length: 289 pages
Blurb: Bryn Reyes is a real life sleeping beauty. Afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome, she suffers episodes of prolonged sleep that steal weeks, and sometimes even months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, she doesn’t spend each episode in a catatonic state or wake up with no recollection of the time she’s missed. Instead, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the illusory beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.
But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, her body weakening as she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals that he knows more about her strange symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns that the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive.
The Girl In Between is beautifully written and will draw in an audience of Young Adults, New Adults and adults alike. With plenty of mystery and many turns – darker turns towards the end – the reader will keep on guessing until the very end.
Suffering with Klein Levin Syndrome (KLS), Bryn finds that her condition is changing. Not only are her periods of sleep starting to lengthen again, but her dream-like state, usually full of all her memories, has just had a new addition! A boy has washed up on the beach, and Bryn has no idea who he is or where he came from. He certainly isn’t a memory of hers.
During her times awake she finds it more and more difficult to forget about the boy. However, she is desperate to become a ‘normal’ young woman. She longs to go to college, much against her mums wishes. Bryn wants to be independent but her condition also reminds her that she needs help during her times of sleep. Therefore, she agrees to yet another experimental trial to find a cure. Bryn is quite anxious about her treatment. She begins to accept the idea that it won’t work, but puts a brave face on for her mum.
“My emotions on the day before a new trial always existed on this manic spectrum between reserved hope and total indifference. There was a part of me that believed it would work as if that belief was its own serum and if I just let it fill every inch of me, maybe it would tell my body to relent. To let the cure work. To be a miracle for once. But there was another part of me that knew my body would never be a miracle, that I would never get better, and sometimes that ache filled me too, snuffing out everything else.”
With her hope dwindling on a cure she focuses more time thinking of the boy.
After reluctantly approaching the boy in her dream-like state, Bryn and the reader discover more and more about him as the story moves forward. We realise that he does not know who he is, or how he came to be on the beach. Bryn begins to think that he must be a part of her imagination, but he is a little alarmed at this as that would mean that he isn’t real.
The story is told from both Bryn’s and the boy’s point of view, with each chapter named as Bryn or nameless for the boy, making it easy to keep track of where each character is in the story, and what their thoughts and concerns are.
Bryn surely does have a great deal on her mind. As she is asleep for weeks at a time, she finds that she has a great deal of school projects to catch up on. And so she finds herself busy with her sculptures, and the rest of her schoolwork to reach the grades she needs for college. Also, as she is taking up time of her mums, there is a slight pang of guilt as she wants her mother to also live her own life. With her dad long gone, but still making a nuisance of himself, it is her uncle who looks out for them and offers comfort where he can.
Throughout the story Bryn spends time trying to ignore and avoid her ex boyfriend, Drew. And, as she comes to know ‘the boy in between’, she slowly begins to fall for him. However, nothing is permanent there, and so she is never sure if he will always be there. Should she give Drew another chance? Or is she the boy’s answer to the real world? Is he hers?
“…I’d almost kissed him. He was leaning over me, a strand of my hair curled around his finger and I’d almost kissed him. Because he was stuck. Because he wanted to know me and I wanted to let him. Even if it was just because he was lost and I was his only answer to the real world, I wanted to let him.”
If the experimental trial works she may never see him again and never find the answers that they both seek.
To make matters worse, Bryn begins to notice that some moments she is having are ones that she has already seen or experienced. Are these moments hallucinations brought on from the drugs of her treatment? Or were they related to something more mysterious?
Despite the dark sides of the story, the enigma of Bryn’s dream state, the not knowing who the boy is in her dream (if it is a dream), and some of the serious turns that the story takes, The Girl In Between is a really beautiful story. Laekan Zea Kemp has clearly written with care and delicacy, making it read at a slow steady pace to match the atmosphere of the story. Despite the mystery and the longing to know who the boy is, and if they will both survive, I found it to be a very calming read and I would certainly read more from this author.
A copy of The Girl In Between was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.
Reviewed by Caroline Barker