Friday, May 29, 2015
Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles
Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles tells all these stories and more. The book contains ten short stories total, with each character's tale roughly 40 pages long. The storylines overlap and connect, woven together by setting - all of the stories take place in the same town, on the same day - as strangers, neighbors, relatives, co-workers and classmates interact, ignore, confront, and combust.
Set aside some time for this book, because once you've finished reading it, you may feel compelled to read it again! If you read this book a second time, you will pick up on even more of the connections, causes, and consequences, just like when you read a mystery for the second time, you pick up on more of the clues because you already know the identity (and intentions) of the murderer.
The author said that this book was inspired by a stranger who flipped off her family while driving down the road. That symbol of disrespect is in each of the stories, which may make some parents or teachers hesitate, but don't be worried - overall, the book is fairly PG.
Read Between the Lines is both frank and considerate, honest in its depiction of emotional abuse, intolerance, secrets, and hierarchies within families, classrooms, and communities. Though they have different backgrounds and different interests, each character is trying to find a place for herself or himself in the world, and there's something universal in that search for identity and belonging. The point of the book is to pause, to think, to consider, to look, to look again: we don't always know what's happened to others to make them act or react the way they do; we can't read their minds, we don't know what their day has been like or what their home situation is, but if we take a moment to consider other people's feelings, to respect their space and hear their side of the story, we might be find we are more alike and more connected that we think.