The ­In-Between

HarperCollins/Walden Pond. Jan. 2021. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062916099.
Gr 4-8–With an intriguing mystery and a heartwarming tale of friendship wrapped inside a ghost story, this is a sure hit. Cooper is dealing with his parents’ divorce—his father has left him, his mother, and his sister for a new family. Cooper has to help his mother take care of his sister and monitor her blood sugar. Since the divorce, his friendships have fallen apart; Cooper has become more comfortable alone, seeking constant solitude and writing in his journal. Everything changes when a mysterious girl moves into an abandoned house nearby. She hardly speaks but always stares at him. When Cooper realizes the logo on her uniform is connected to major disasters throughout the world, he is drawn into a larger mystery. Could this strange girl have something to do with the disasters? Does her appearance mean a terrible disaster is coming here? Ansari knows how to balance a fast-paced plot with well-developed characters. She perfectly uses the “Mystery Box” technique by setting up questions about the eerie girl, driving readers’ desire to keep turning pages. Cooper grows and develops friendships that will stay with him forever. The plot twist will hit readers in the gut, and makes this book unforgettable.
VERDICT With a memorable twist and an awesome mystery, this title is too good to be missed. Perfect for fans of Mary Downing Hahn and “Goosebumps” grads looking for something a little spookier.

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