Title: Between the Notes
Author: Sharon Huss Roat
Release Date: June 16
Source: HarperCollins Children on Edelweiss (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
When Ivy Emerson’s family loses their house—complete with her beloved piano—the fear of what’s to come seizes her like a bad case of stage fright. Only this isn’t one of her single, terrifying performances. It’s her life.
And it isn’t pretty.
Ivy is forced to move with her family out of their affluent neighborhood to Lakeside, also known as “the wrong side of the tracks.” Hiding the truth from her friends—and the cute new guy in school, who may have secrets of his own—seems like a good idea at first. But when a bad boy next door threatens to ruin everything, Ivy’s carefully crafted lies begin to unravel . . . and there is no way to stop them.
As things get to the breaking point, Ivy turns to her music, some unlikely new friends, and the trusting heart of her disabled little brother. She may be surprised that not everyone is who she thought they were . . . including herself. (Source: Goodreads)
When Ivy’s father’s business starts doing badly the family is forced to leave their comfortable lifestyle behind and downsize into an apartment on the wrong side of town. Ivy begins lying to everyone she knows to protect herself from the humiliation of her new living situation. At the same time she begins falling for possible billionaire James, and is being pursued by drug dealing Lennie. She turns to music and old friends to save herself as her life spirals out of control.
I’m sort of on the fence about Between the Notes. I thought it was cute and there were good moments, but I felt a little let down by the overall focus of the story. I think it was a little to boy focused when the message and the emotional charge would have been a lot stronger if the family aspect had been more in focus. I was slow to connect with this story at all because Ivy was fairly unlikeable, so I think I just felt let down in general by both the characters and the plot. I still enjoyed it and would say it’s worth a read.
This isn’t a wholly unique plot, the story of a girl falling into “destitution” is pretty common. And the dichotomy of the wrong side of the tracks vs. the right side of the tracks is pretty common (we went over this in my The Distance Between Us review). I don’t think it’s a horrible plot idea, it’s relatable, I think the trouble is that the focus often becomes on the romance and less about a family struggling to connect or stay together in the face of this new situation. Ivy’s family would have been the perfect vehicle for this plot, in some moments you see action heading towards this direction but it is always pushed aside or overwhelmed by Ivy’s obsession with James. The book remains entirely about her pursuit for romance, even as she struggles to overcome her stage fright – it’s all about James not about her own struggle. This was really disappointing – especially as Ivy’s family is so unique and their situation is so relatable. This also lead to a lot of the “plot twists” falling flat as they were so predictable and fit perfectly into the stereotypical storyline.
I didn’t really like Ivy and it was because of this boy crazy attitude she has, despite constantly saying she isn’t all that interested. She’s also snobby and self obsessed, to the point that she not only looks down on everyone aside from her family, she also turns against her family in her obsessive pursuit of James. This was just awful and not particularly relatable in my mind. It made it very hard to connect with her. I didn’t care much for many of the other characters, couldn’t really connect with them. I think the standout character is Lennie who is this misunderstood sweetheart in reality.
I think this book is worth a read but would be far from highly recommended for me. It just fell kind of flat and let me down.