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Between the Lines

About The Book

Soon to be an off-Broadway musical!

In this delightful companion novel to Off the Page, #1 New York Times bestselling authors Jodi Picoult and her daughter and cowriter, Samantha van Leer, present the YA novel that started it all! Filled with romance, adventure, and humor, the magic jumps off the page (literally) in a story you’ll never forget.

What happens when happily ever after…isn’t?

Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom.

A romantic and charming story, this companion novel to Off the Page will make every reader believe in the fantastical power of fairy tales.

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide to

Between the Lines
by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

Prereading Question:

If you could choose living in a predictable world, where you knew the outcome of every event, would you choose it, and why?

Discussion Questions:

Who is Prince Oliver and why is he unhappy? What is his character flaw and how does it impact his life and world?

Why does Prince Oliver set out to rescue Seraphima, and how does he compensate for his character flaw?

Are Prince Oliver and Seraphima a good match? Why or why not? How is she unlike Prince Oliver?

Why does Delilah read the fairy tale repeatedly? How is her world different from Prince Oliver’s?

How does the reader learn that Prince Oliver knows there is a world “beyond the fairy tale”? How does he first come to know about this outside world?

Why does Prince Oliver want out of the fairy tale? How does he get the attention of Delilah, and what is her initial response?

Delilah and Prince Oliver develop romantic feelings for each other. Why do you think they are attracted to one another? What commonalities draw them together? What differences?

Why does Prince Oliver attempt to remove the spider from the story? What happens when the spider enters Delilah’s world?

Identify the following fairy tale characters and explain how they are alike, or different from, the characters they play in the fairy tale: Rapscullio, Seraphima, Queen Maureen, and the mermaids.

Frump is Prince Oliver’s best friend. What is his backstory and what role does he play in the fairy tale?

Socks is Prince Oliver’s trusty steed. How does Socks add humor to the story? Cite examples.

Who is Jessamyn Jacobs and why does Delilah take an unplanned trip to her house? What happens when Delilah arrives there?

In what ways are Prince Oliver and Edgar alike? How are they different?

How is Prince Oliver’s wish finally answered? Is the result a fitting end to the story? Explain.

Questions for Further Discussion:

The story takes place in three worlds: the fairy tale in which Prince Oliver is the key player, Prince Oliver’s “real” life outside the fairy tale, and Delilah’s world outside the story. Describe each world. How are they alike and how are they different?

How do the authors weave the three worlds together? For example, what structural and stylistic devices, language, and events do the authors use to connect the three worlds? What techniques do they use to signal a transition from one world to the other?

Delilah has a best friend who plays a minor role in the story. Why did the authors choose to keep her friend’s role to a minimum? What does the friend add to the story?

This novel is structurally complex. Explain how the authors use different points of view to tell the story. Why are multiple perspectives needed?

Readers see the fairy tale characters playing out private lives. How are readers able to see them having their own lives? What situation has to occur so that readers can see their private worlds?

Jessamyn Jacobs refuses to rewrite the ending of the story. Why does she refuse, and how would the story have been different had she agreed? Would the story have been better? Explain.

Prince Oliver and Delilah try several strategies in an effort to remove Prince Oliver from the book. Outline each strategy they try and explain the results.

Delilah is, at first, infatuated by the fairy tale. What event helps her become more thankful for the world in which she lives?

In what way does this book defy traditional genre classification?

Mother/Daughter Connections:

Describe the relationship between Delilah and her mother. Do Delilah and her mother respect one another? Support your response(s) with evidence from the text.

Why does Delilah’s mother worry about Delilah? Should she worry? Explain. Is Delilah concerned about her mother? Why or why not?

Delilah feels like an outcast at school. Does her mother understand Delilah’s feelings about school and friends? What could her mother do better to connect with Delilah and to help her fit in better?

What positive characteristics as a mother does Delilah’s mother possess? What weaknesses?

How does the fairy tale provide a discussion on stereotypical roles of men and women in society? In what way are these roles inaccurate?

What information does Delilah’s mother need to understand her daughter better? If she possessed this information, does Delilah’s mother have the capacity to build a better relationship with her? Support your response with information from the text.

Do Prince Oliver and Queen Maureen have a better relationship than Delilah and her mother? Cite evidence from the text to support your answer.

Does society paint a realistic picture of marriage? Why or why not?

Some argue that a child raised in a home with two parents is better off than a child raised by a single parent. How might this statement not be true?

Think of other books or fairy tales that you enjoyed reading. Which characters would you want to become real, and why?

How might reading a story like Between the Lines together provide mothers and daughters with a vehicle for getting to know one another better? What other novels might serve a similar purpose and why would you recommend them?

Guide written by Pam B. Cole, Professor of English Education & Literacy, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

About The Authors

Photograph © Adam Bouska

Jodi Picoult received an AB in creative writing from Princeton and a master’s degree in education from Harvard. The recipient of the 2003 New England Book Award for her entire body of work, she is the author of twenty-seven novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers House Rules, Handle With Care, Change of Heart, and My Sister’s Keeper, for which she received the American Library Association’s Margaret Alexander Edwards Award. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. Visit her website at JodiPicoult.com.

Samantha van Leer is a sophomore at Vassar College majoring in psychology with a minor in human development. She has four dogs: Alvin, Harvey, Dudley, and Oliver—for whom the prince in this story is named.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (June 25, 2013)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781451635812
  • Grades: 7 and up
  • Ages: 12 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

"A compulsively readable charmer. The teen dialogue and interior monologues feel authentic, while Picoult’s practiced hand balances humor with larger issues such as abandonment, hope, and existential quandaries related to fate and human nature. Both silhouette and pencil drawings abound; characters climb in and around the text to excellent effect. Younger readers and their parents will appreciate the gentle, wholesome romance, with nary a shred of paranormal action. The tender, positive tone and effective pacing that builds to a satisfying finish will inspire readers to pass the book to a friend—or reread it themselves." 

– Booklist

"A clever YA romance about the magical relationship between a loner and her fictional “Prince Charming.” Elements from Picoult’s other novels—alternating character viewpoints with distinguishing fonts, snappy chapter endings—are present, and the story is peppered with pop culture references to The Hunger Games, the Kindle Fire, and the X-Men, as well as comic relief in the form of characters like a talking horse that thinks it has a weight problem. Readers...will be swept up by the romantic premise." 

 

– Publishers Weekly

"Picoult and her coauthor daughter deliver an enjoyable, metafictive twist on the traditional teen-romance novel.... Book lovers in particular are likely to get a kick out of the blurring of the lines between character and reader, fact and fiction.... Fizzy fairy-tale fun."

– Kirkus Reviews

"Picoult and her daughter, Van Leer, have created a multilayered universe where what is real is in the eye of the beholder."

 

– VOYA

"Engagingly written...a fun romp that fans of both fairy tales and teen romance will enjoy."

– Shelf Awareness

“Between the Lines” is a romance between a girl and a boy, but even more, it’s a love letter to the visceral bond between a reader and a musty, beloved book.... The fictional “Between the Lines” is funny and unexpected...and it’s fascinating to watch the authors address the problem of what it would be like to live not just in a story, but in a physical book."  

– The Washington Post

"An exceedingly clever concept that would be challenging to pull off, if not for the deep understanding of character, plot and pacing provided by Picoult... Conceptually, "Between the Lines" is reminiscent of the "Toy Story" movies... An exploration of the nature of escapism that asks whether reality is any more real than make-believe, "Between the Lines" will delight readers of all ages whose imaginations willfully blur that distinction."
 

– Los Angeles Times

"An exceedingly clever concept that would be challenging to pull off, if not for the deep understanding of character, plot and pacing provided by Picoult... Conceptually, "Between the Lines" is reminiscent of the "Toy Story" movies... An exploration of the nature of escapism that asks whether reality is any more real than make-believe, "Between the Lines" will delight readers of all ages whose imaginations willfully blur that distinction."
 

– Los Angeles Times

Awards and Honors

  • YALSA Teens Top Ten (TTT) Nominee

Resources and Downloads

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