Review: Between the Notes – Sharon Huss Roat

between the notesWhen 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

Rating: 3.5/5

This book smacks of poor-little-rich-girl, but in a way, at least for me, that didn’t grate on my nerves. Specifically because Ivy’s actions aren’t deliberately malicious – she’s just desperately trying to hang on to her place in the totem pole of hierarchy at her high school – stupid, yes, but understandable as well.

I know that at 17, I wasn’t that socially aware either, and high school was an utter bitch, so if I’d suddenly had to move to a dodgy area that everyone makes fun of, and be unable to participate in friends’ activities because I no longer had money, well, I’d probably be less than happy with the situation. Again, Ivy is the symptom of a society obsessed with class and cash-flow, not the cause.

Furthermore, Ivy’s despair at the situation stems from what the people at school will think, not necessarily the poverty itself – shallow yes, but a learning experience as well. So she does all sorts of things to try keep up the pretenses, which she finds out ultimately aren’t worth it.

I do think the book could have been longer. Ivy’s character development occurs in like the last 10% of the novel. Furthermore, I would have liked more insight into love interest #2, Lennie, the boy next door who is CLEARLY A BAD GUY BECAUSE HE HAS TATTOOS AND LOUD FRIENDS AND LIVES IN THE DODGE AREA. Pssssht. Kill that ‘ol stereotype already. The two popular girls who rule the school roost, meanwhile, are pretty much cardboard caricatures.

While there are two love interests per se, there isn’t a love triangle, because Ivy is pretty much oblivious to guy #2, and her relationship with guy #1 is based on a lot of assumptions.

The book also looks at issues of poverty –specifically, how poor is poor enough to justify social support, who really deserves it, and the shame/stigma attached to it.

All in all, while the book had its flaws, I really enjoyed it. While Ivy doesn’t react in the best possible way to her new circumstances, she wasn’t as shallow as she first appeared, and was struggling with a number of issues in addition to their economic status. Ivy makes some silly decisions, but without bitchy intent, as well as some admirable ones, which made up for her earlier mistakes.

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

2 thoughts on “Review: Between the Notes – Sharon Huss Roat

  1. It’s so sweet and hopeful of you to assume that capitalising the words would send the stereotypes away, lol! :D Nope, don’t think so. This sounds somewhat interesting.


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