Sunday, June 28, 2015
Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher & ARC: Delacorte
Off the Page is the companion novel to Between the Lines (2012), but if you haven't read Between, no worries here as the book works well on its own. Delilah found Between the Lines in her high school library, and like many of us who love to read, she quickly fell in love with the characters. Except here, I mean literally fell in love, with Oliver, the book's prince charming. And get this, Oliver loves her back.
Stepping into Off the Page, I was completely enthralled with the inventive, metafictional premise: characters inside a book who actually live, eat, and breathe there. Every day they rehearse their plot in hopes of playing for a Reader, and usually that means Delilah. The book opens with Delilah waiting on Oliver at school. Magically, Oliver has switched positions and worlds with Edgar, his real-life likeness and son of the book's author. Making their dreams come true, Oliver is now a part of reality while Edgar is learning the ropes in the book.
Hopelessly in love with each other, Oliver and Delilah couldn't be happier. Even Edgar is enjoying himself in the fairy tale, making changes so the plot is more sci-fi. At school, Oliver adjusts to being the new kid, meeting the typical high school stereotypes you read in most fiction (or actually see in your hallways). You have the goth girl and Delilah's best friend Jules, the other new kid Chris, and the mean girl Allie. As Oliver becomes more accustomed to this world, he excels in English class, drama club, and the scale of popularity. Even Delilah notices the girls gawking over Oliver, but just like prince charming, Oliver's love for Delilah, though tested, remains true. And just like every love story, there are trials and tribulations that each couple must go through to find that happy ending.
I can honestly say that this my favorite book of 2015 so far. There hasn't been a YA book that has impressed me this much in a long time. As a young girl whose nose was constantly stuck in a book, admiring the perfect guy who was stuck in fiction, this book made me remember what it was like to be a Reader. There isn't just one romantic layer to this book either. The plot delivers on so many different levels, from mother-child relationships, to friendships, to reader-writer relationships.
The minor characters, like Jules and Seraphima, keep the plot from being too sweet as they challenge gender stereotypes that have always been traditionally presented by fairy tales. The intermittent notes sprinkled throughout the multiple narratives ground the Reader and bring all of the themes together.
I was absolutely giddy as I read this book and remembered what it was like to incandescently love a book so much, you wish it was real.