Between You & Me Themed Gift Pack

If you have visited Rather Be Reading within the past six months, more than likely you’ve heard me raving about Marisa Calin’s Between You & Me. This was an ARC that Magan sent to me pretty randomly. I reminded myself to start it in August, and never in my wildest dreams did I think this book would make me feel the way I did.

In fact, I read it twice.

The book is about a girl named Phyre and her best friend (although we have no idea if her best friend is a male or a female) and their sweet friendship that becomes a bit strained when she starts crushing on her enchanting theater teacher. And best of all? The book is written in screenplay style, a brave choice that I think really worked here.

Between You & Me is a book I already have hidden under my bed for a lucky receiver of my Christmas presents, and while I’m not doing a “themed gift pack” for this individual, I love the idea of one. Themed gifts are the best. And bonus, if you decided to grab all of these items at once… it’s pretty darn affordable for a really thoughtful gift.

I hope you like!

Rather Be Reading Blog Shopping Guide - Between You and Me by Marisa Calin

1. The iconic heart glasses (under 10 dollars at Buy.com): The cover of this book so perfectly matches what is inside. Phyre is character who becomes very oblivious to the thoughts/feelings of her best friend, and her best friend is also the one who gives her these silly glasses. (Which I love.)

2. When Harry Met Sally DVD ($3.99 from Amazon): The classic film about best friends who fall in love with each other. This movie isn’t mentioned in the novel at all, but in some ways I think the sentiments are the same. (Plus it’s a great movie.)

3. Brown Leather Journal ($12.95 from B&N): When Phyre’s theater teacher suggests they start a journal to better understand the characters they are playing, one appears on her desk the next day. To me, a journal is always a great gift and the leather makes it extra special.

4. Julep Nail Color in Sabrina ($14): This pick for the gift pack is all about Phyre’s name and the use of extreme light in the book. It’s one detail I loved, and something that wouldn’t necessarily be a part of a screenplay but I loved Calin for throwing it in there. For the record, Julep is my favorite nail polish at the moment!

5. Mini Candles at Bath & Body Works (2 for $5): Best idea from Bath + Body Works. We go through a ton of candles, and it’s great to have these space saving candles to use whenever we need to. Guys, there’s a romantic candle scene in this book. Like the moment we all imagine happening to us. Now there aren’t scented candles in it, but this is the closest I can get to the scene without telling you everything. It’s a great one.

6. Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate: You can pretty much get a box of hot chocolate like this for under 2 bucks anyway. This reminds me of a sweet moment that Phyre and her best friend share, and also later on, when our main character realizes she is not much of a tea drinker.

Celebrating Release Day with Author Marisa Calin

Twitter has an amazing way of connecting people. Not only have I had the pleasure to make some wonderful friends through 140 characters but a few weeks ago as I was reading an August release, Between You & Me, I sent a tweet to the author to tell her I could not put it down. A few days and direct messages later, we were meeting for lunch at one of my favorite coffee shops in New York City. Despite my extreme nervousness, as soon as I met Marisa, who greeted me with a hug, I suddenly felt like I’ve know her forever and was relieved to finally have someone to talk to about this book that left me so touched, so knocked over by its creativity and tone. (Did I mention she has the cutest English accent in the world?) So today on the release day of Between You & Me, I’m so happy to share a short piece about Marisa. Many heartfelt thanks to the author who blabbered with me in a window seat of the coffee shop for an hour. It was such an extreme pleasure.

an exclusive interview with writer, marisa calin on ratherbereadingblog.com

“I’m somewhat of an imposter,” author Marisa Calin admits with a smile over a cup of tea.

This statement would make any lunch companion nervous but I smile back because Marisa and I have just spent the last 10 minutes chatting like old friends about theater and the unfortunate incident that brought Mike Tyson to the Broadway stage. (True story.)

What she means is that she’s a trained actress-turned-writer; someone who has never had any formal training in writing. But if her young adult debut, Between You & Me (Bloomsbury Kids), set to release August 7, is any indication, she has taken her own passion for acting and injected it into this refreshing addition to the genre. Written in the style of a screenplay, Marisa tells the story of Phyre, an ambitious teenager who wants to be an actress, her best friend only known as You, and the theater teacher, Mia, who Phyre develops a crush on.

“I was inspired by the immediacy of a screenplay. I love to write because there’s a finished product. In theater that changes from night to night because you are bouncing off different people.” Marisa laughs. “I sound like a control freak. But there is something about writing. You can sit down and you imagine a scene, imagine a character. You get to do it all yourself and you get to lay out the way you want someone to experience [the story].”

Unlike a play or a film screenplay, Marisa took the basic format a step further by creating moods (with beautiful references to light) and also honing in on Phyre’s feelings from the first person. Both of these are big no-nos on stage and film; it’s the job of the director and the cast to bring both those avenues to life. But in Between You & Me, Marisa takes the reins and delivers an authentic look at three individuals who have tunnel vision when it comes to their respective lives. “I wanted to use things that I had the right to talk about emotionally. I used a style of something I know about and I love in a way that I would want to express myself.”

And despite her desire to sit in the driver’s seat and totally formulate the reader’s experience, Marisa doesn’t reveal all when it comes to Phyre’s story. Readers are never quite sure of the sex of the character’s best friend, You – a detail that manages to remain intriguing and not distracting. “I had to bank on the fact that whoever was reading it was going to make their own assertions. I took a risk and people might feel too taxed. I know my grandmother won’t like it,” she jokes.

While Phyre wears her (heart-shaped) rose-colored glasses and can be a bit self-centered (and who wasn’t at 16?), ignoring You’s quiet moments of kindness and soaking up any bit of Mia she can get, Marisa is happy to have the opportunity to explain that while she lent her character her own emotions, she was never that self-absorbed. (She promises!) “I balanced my imaginary meandering with real life much better but I wanted to be true to the fact that your teenage years are one of the only times we can be that self-obsessed.”

As coffee beans grind and people rustle in and out of the shop, Marisa and I break off into tangents about moving, Disney, her school in England, and spying out the window for a man wearing a yellow shirt. (Read the book, you’ll get it.) I also learn she hates litterbugs (me too), loves bright colors and water, and only finished 25% of the first Twilight book. (This makes me like her more.)

Our conversation drifts back to books and Marisa talks about her second novel already in progress (“I’m not going to tell a story I have no business telling.”), her writing process (“I don’t write with a plan.”), her best writing advice (“Less is more.”) and grand praise for her editor (“My editor is the most amazing person in the world… She knew what I wanted to do better than I did.”)

We both agree that the best books are the ones that hit us after we’ve closed them, the ones that take us over and leave us wanting to know more – the exact force that has brought us together today. As Marisa ventures into this new world of writing, it is her experience in acting and her ability to connect with her younger self that leaves readers with the best gift and one that sets her work apart from the rest of the genre – challenging her readers to fill in the blanks and dig a little deeper.

For more information on Marisa, please visit her website, Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter.

Between You & Me review | Goodreads | Amazon

 ♥ ♥ ♥

Marisa was also wonderful enough to supply RBR with a signed copy of her book to give away to one reader. This contest is open internationally! Good luck friends!

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new young adult (YA) book releases coming out in august 2012

August 2012 Young Adult Book Releases

new young adult (YA) book releases coming out in august 2012

(Ferris wheel image from We Heart It)

 

 

 

Welcome back for another month full of amazing book releases. I’m sharing August 2012 Young Adult (YA) book releases below. If Estelle or I have read the book, I’m linking it up so you can see what we had to say about it. This will definitely be a month where any and all extra money goes straight to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Adios, paycheck!

 

 

 

 

august 01.

august 2012 book release - Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola KrausOver You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Goodreads | Amazon

Description:

After the grand explosion of her relationship, seventeen-year-old Max Scott developed what every girl in the history of the world has been waiting for: a way to get over being dumped. Now Max is the go-to guru for heartbroken high-school girls all over NYC. But when her ex unexpectedly shows up in her neighborhood, Max’s carefully controlled world starts to unravel. With her clients’ hearts hanging in the balance, Max will have to do the seemingly impossible: get over him once and for all.

Brilliant at bringing humor to the trials and tribulations of the lovestruck, #1 New York Times bestselling authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus have crafted a tale that will resonate with any girl who has ever been in love or had her heart broken. It brims with smart observations, features a pitch-perfect teen voice, and will attract fans of Jenny Han, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Barnholdt. Readers are sure to fall head-over-heels for this sharp spin on breaking up, making up, and getting even.

 

 august 02.

Debutantes by Cora Harrisonaugust 2012 book release Debutantes by Cora Harrison
Goodreads | Amazon

Description:

It’s 1923 and London is a whirl of jazz, dancing and parties. Violet, Daisy, Poppy and Rose Derrington are desperate to be part of it, but stuck in an enormous crumbling house in the country, with no money and no fashionable dresses, the excitement seems a lifetime away.

Luckily the girls each have a plan for escaping their humdrum country life: Rose wants to be a novelist, Poppy a jazz musician and Daisy a famous film director. Violet, however, has only one ambition: to become the perfect Debutante, so that she can go to London and catch the eye of Prince George, the most eligible bachelor in the country.

But a house as big and old as Beech Grove Manor hides many secrets, and Daisy is about to uncover one so huge it could ruin all their plans—ruin everything—forever.

 

august 07.

august 2012 book release: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas ReviewThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Goodreads | Amazon
Magan’s Review

Description:

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

 

august 2012 release Fingerprints of You by Krisen Paige MadoniaFingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia
Goodreads | Amazon

Description:

Lemon grew up with Stella, a single mom who wasn’t exactly maternal. Stella always had a drink in her hand and a new boyfriend every few months, and when things got out of hand, she would whisk Lemon off to a new town for a fresh beginning. Now, just as they are moving yet again, Lemon discovers that she is pregnant from a reckless encounter—with a guy Stella had been flirting with.

On the verge of revisiting her mother’s mistakes, Lemon struggles to cope with the idea of herself as a young unmarried mother, as well as the fact that she’s never met her own father. Determined to have at least one big adventure before she has the baby, Lemon sets off on a cross-country road trip, intending not only to meet her father, but to figure out who she wants to be.

 

Capital Girls by Ella MonroeCapital Girls by Ella Monroe
Goodreads | Amazon

Description:

CAPITAL GIRLS by Ella Monroe is the first book in a glitzy, fast-paced, fabulous new young adult series set against the backdrop of Washington, D.C. In it, we meet four young women, best friends forever, who must navigate life as the children of some of the most powerful people in the nation. With that life comes not only awesome vacations, beautiful clothes and A-list parties, but also scandal, heartache, danger and the ever-present paparazzi who seem to have a knack for catching them when they’re up to something bad!

 

 

 

book cover for wake by amanda hockingWake (Watersong #1) by Amanda Hocking
Goodreads | Amazon

Description:

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

 

 

book cover for The Boy Recession by Flynn Meaney

The Boy Recession by Flynn Meaney
Goodreads | Amazon

Description:

Where have all the boys gone?

Down-to-earth Kelly is always the friend and never the girlfriend. But as her junior year of high school starts, Kelly is determined to finally reveal her true feelings for her long-time crush and good friend Hunter – that is, until the Boy Recession hits.

Over the past summer, an overwhelming number of male students have left Kelly and Hunter’s small high school class. Some were sent to private school and others moved away. Whatever the case, the sudden population shift has left the already small Julius P. Heil High in desperate shape. The football coach is recruiting chess champs for his team, the principal’s importing male exchange students to balance out school dances,and Hunter is about to become an unexpected heartthrob.

Content with his role as the guitar-strumming, class-skipping slacker, Hunter is unprepared to be the center of attention. Desperate coaches are recruiting him for sports teams, and the drama teacher casts him in the lead role of the school musical. Even the Spandexers, powerful popular girls in tight pants, are noticing Hunter in a new light – with a little work, he could have potential. He might even be boyfriend material…

In order to stand out from the crowd and win Hunter’s heart, Kelly needs a “stimulus package” in the form of cougar lessons from a senior girl who dates hot freshman boys and advice on the male mind from her Cosmo-addicted best friend, Aviva. As if dating wasn’t hard enough without a four-to-one ratio!

 

 

book cover for Between You & Me by Marisa Calin

Between You & Me by Marisa Calin
Goodreads | Amazon
Estelle’s Review

Description:

Phyre knows there is something life-changing about her new drama teacher, Mia, from the moment they meet. As Phyre rehearses for the school play, she comes to realize that the unrequited feelings she has for Mia go deeper than she’s ever experienced. Especially with a teacher. Or a woman. All the while, Phyre’s best friend—addressed throughout the story in the second person, as “you”—stands by, ready to help Phyre make sense of her feelings. But just as Mia doesn’t understand what Phyre feels, Phyre can’t fathom the depth of her best friend’s feelings . . . until it’s almost too late for a happy ending. Characters come to life through the innovative screenplay format of this dazzling debut, and unanswered questions—is “you” male or female?—will have readers talking.

 

 

august 14.

 

book cover for Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso

Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso
Goodreads | Amazon
Magan’s Review

Description:

Three weeks ago I tried to run away from home. Now all I want is to go back.

When troubled Taylor Truwell is caught with a stolen car and lands in court for resisting arrest, her father convinces the judge of an alternative to punishment: treatment in a juvenile psychiatric correctional facility. Sunny Meadows is anything but the easy way out, and Taylor has to fight hard just to hold on to her sanity as she battles her parents, her therapist, and vicious fellow patients. But even as Taylor struggles to hold on to her stubborn former self, she finds herself relenting as she lets in two unlikely friends-Margo, a former child star and arsonist, and AJ, a mysterious boy who doesn’t speak. In this striking debut, Laura Lascarso weaves together a powerful story of anger and self-destruction, hope and love.

 

Intentions by Deborah Heiligman
Goodreads | Amazon
Estelle’s Review

Description:

Rachel thought she was grown up enough to accept that no one is perfect. Her parents argue, her grandmother has been acting strangely, and her best friend doesn’t want to talk to her. But none of that could have prepared her for what she overheard in her synagogue’s sanctuary.

Now Rachel’s trust in the people she loves is shattered, and her newfound cynicism leads to reckless rebellion. Her friends and family hardly recognize her, and worse, she can hardly recognize herself. But how can the adults in her life lecture her about acting with kevanah, intention, when they are constantly making such horribly wrong decisions themselves? This is a witty, honest account of navigating the daunting line between losing innocence and entering adulthood—all while figuring out who you really want to be.

 

book cover for Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela MingleKissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle
Goodreads | Amazon
Estelle’s Review

Description:

Miranda has Shakespeare in her blood: she hopes one day to become a Shakespearean actor like her famous parents. At least, she does until her disastrous performance in her school’s staging of The Taming of the Shrew. Humiliated, Miranda skips the opening-night party. All she wants to do is hide.

Fellow cast member, Stephen Langford, has other plans for Miranda. When he steps out of the backstage shadows and asks if she’d like to meet Shakespeare, Miranda thinks he’s a total nutcase. But before she can object, Stephen whisks her back to 16th century England—the world Stephen’s really from. He wants Miranda to use her acting talents and modern-day charms on the young Will Shakespeare. Without her help, Stephen claims, the world will lose its greatest playwright.

Miranda isn’t convinced she’s the girl for the job. Why would Shakespeare care about her? And just who is this infuriating time traveler, Stephen Langford? Reluctantly, she agrees to help, knowing that it’s her only chance of getting back to the present and her “real” life. What Miranda doesn’t bargain for is finding true love . . . with no acting required.

 

august 21.

 

book cover for Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You by Joyce Carol Oates

Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You by Joyce Carol Oates
Goodreads | Amazon

Description:

Joyce Carol Oates masterfully captures the unique experience of being a teenage girl in this provocative and poignant new novel in the vein of Wintergirls and Thirteen Reasons Why.

It wasn’t like she had not warned us.

It wasn’t like she had not prepared us.

We’d known that something was wrong those last several months.

But then, Tink hasn’t actually vanished. Tink is gone, and yet—she is here somewhere, even if we can’t see her.

Tink? Are you—here?

 

book cover by Smashed by Lisa Luedeke

Smashed by Lisa Luedeke
Goodreads | Amazon

Description:

A field hockey star grapples with addiction in this riveting debut that will appeal to fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’sSpeak.

Stay out of trouble for one more year, and Katie Martin can leave her small town loneliness behind forever. She is a field hockey star on the fast track to a college scholarship, but her relationship with alcohol has always been a little questionable. Then trouble finds her. Alec is the most popular guy in school, and also the biggest bully—with his sights set firmly on Katie. When Alec turns on the charm, Katie thinks she must have been wrong about him.

Except that she wasn’t. On a rain-soaked, alcohol-drenched night, one impulsive decision leaves Katie indebted to Alec in the worst possible way. This debut novel is a fast-paced and compelling story of addiction, heartbreak, and redemption.

 

 

book cover for Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman

Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman
Goodreads | Amazon

Description:

Rachel and Alice are an extremely rare kind of identical twins—so identical that even their aunt and uncle, whom they’ve lived with since their parents passed away, can’t tell them apart. But the sisters are connected in a way that goes well beyond their surfaces: when one experiences pain, the other exhibits the exact same signs of distress. So when one twin mysteriously disappears, the other immediately knows something is wrong—especially when she starts experiencing serious physical traumas, despite the fact that nobody has touched her. As the search commences to find her sister, the twin left behind must rely on their intense bond to uncover the truth. But is there anyone around her she can trust, when everyone could be a suspect? And ultimately, can she even trust herself? Master storyteller Jessica Warman will keep readers guessing when everything they see—and everything they are told—suddenly becomes unreliable in this page-turning literary thriller.

 

book cover for Pizza Love and Other Stuff by Kathryn Williams

Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams
Goodreads | Amazon
Estelle’s Review

Description:

Can a spot on a teen reality show really lead to a scholarship at an elite cooking school AND a summer romance?

Sixteen-year-old Sophie Nicolaides was practically raised in the kitchen of her family’s Italian-Greek restaurant, Taverna Ristorante. When her best friend, Alex, tries to convince her to audition for a new reality show, Teen Test Kitchen, Sophie is reluctant. But the prize includes a full scholarship to one of America’s finest culinary schools and a summer in Napa, California, not to mention fame.

Once on-set, Sophie immediately finds herself in the thick of the drama—including a secret burn book, cutthroat celebrity judges, and a very cute French chef. Sophie must figure out a way to survive all the heat and still stay true to herself. A terrific YA offering–fresh, fun, and sprinkled with romance.

august 28.

book cover for Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Goodreads | Amazon

Description:

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

 

book cover for If I Lie by Corrine JacksonIf I Lie by Corrine Jackson
Goodreads | Amazon

Description:

A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

 

book cover for every day by david levithan

Every Day by David Levithan
Goodreads | Amazon

Description:

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl. 

Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

With his new novel, David Levithan has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.

 

The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmelbook cover for The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Goodreads | Amazon

Description:

She feels like a creature out of a fairy tale; a girl who discovers that her bones are really made out of stone, that her skin is really as thin as glass, that her hair is brittle as straw, that her tears have dried up so that she cries only salt. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t hurt when she presses hard enough to begin bleeding: it doesn’t hurt, because she’s not real anymore.

Sethie Weiss is hungry, a mean, angry kind of hunger that feels like a piece of glass in her belly. She’s managed to get down to 111 pounds and knows that with a little more hard work—a few more meals skipped, a few more snacks vomited away—she can force the number on the scale even lower. She will work on her body the same way she worked to get her perfect grades, to finish her college applications early, to get her first kiss from Shaw, the boy she loves, the boy who isn’t quite her boyfriend.

Sethie will not allow herself one slip, not one bad day, not one break in concentration. Her body is there for her to work on when everything and everyone else—her best friend, her schoolwork, and Shaw—are gone.

 

What young adult book releases are you looking most forward this August? Let us know if we should add something to our August 2012 Young Adult Book Releases list!

Here’s what you may have missed the last couple of months:

> July 2012 Young Adult Book Releases
> June 2012 Young Adult Book Releases
> May 2012 Young Adult Book Releases

Estelle: Between You & Me by Marisa Calin

book cover for Between You & Me by Marisa CalinBetween You & Me by Marisa Calin ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury Kids
Pages: 240
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: LGBT, unrequited love, screenplay format, theater, teacher/student relationships, friendship
Format read: ARC from ALA.

Summary: Told in the form of a screenplay, Phyre is a 16-year old girl who dreams of being an actress. When the beginning of the school year brings a new drama teacher into her life, she is positively smitten and wonders what to make of these new feelings for a female. Meanwhile, most of Phyre’s time is spent with her best friend — only referred to as ‘you’ throughout the novel — until her ‘obsession’ with Mia causes her to ignore You’s constant and adoring presence.

I love when authors take creative chances. When they do it right, the book morphs into more of an experience than just some paper bound together in your purse.

Between You & Me is just that. Written in screenplay style, author Marisa Calin introduces us to Phyre, a 16-year old girl, who loves theater and her best friend – a best friend that garners no name, simply known as ‘You’, with no description whatsoever, just movements and words and perhaps a clothing description every now and then.

It may be disconcerting to be kept in the dark about a character who is very much the heart of this novel, but we do get to see You in Phyre’s eyes and get equally frustrated when You’s actions constitute more than friendship and her friend is utterly blind to it.

So this is the thing. We have no idea if You is a girl or a guy. To be completely honest, during my first read through, I thought You was a girl. Once I (begrudgingly) finished the book, I read the Publishers Weekly review where it was mentioned that it was not divulged if You was a girl or a guy. Did I get amped up or what. It was almost midnight and I literally could not sleep because I found that hard to believe.

It’s funny the tricks your mind plays on you when you are reading. Somehow you are filling in the blanks with words that weren’t even on the page. I could swear I read that You was wearing a dress at one point and instead, You was all dressed up. So I went back, two days later, and reread the entire book again. This time, I pictured You as a boy.

And my conclusion? The book certainly works from both angles. But it made me hyper aware of these categories that I place people in. Yellow shirt, crossed ankles, light enough to lift into a treehouse – oh that must definitely mean You is a girl. But does it? Unconsciously we form all of these stereotypes in our head and cleverly and intricately Calin reminds us to forget them, check them at the door. That is not what matters here.

It is the love. It is the playful, intimate friendship between these two characters. It is how You will come over in the middle of the night to paint Phyre’s room because the color is bothering her. You (as in us) don’t meet people like that every day. And despite You’s silent and sweet attempts to show her these blossoming feelings, Phyre is totally crushing on her new theater teacher – the passionate, smart, cute, and encouraging Mia. The way Phyre bumbles around Mia and chastises herself for saying moronic things in front of her is so spot-on. Don’t misunderstand, Mia is clearly the teacher here; she never eggs Phyre on but still she is absolutely enchanting. Calin brings to the forefront various descriptions of light when it comes to Mia and it is breathtakingly clear why Mia is so worth living in this bubble of fantasy, even when it means Phyre taking You for granted.

The script style is, as it should be, very bare bones but Calin weaves in Phyre’s (uncensored) thoughts within the stage direction but manages to keep them simple, succinct and straightforward. The pacing is quick but the moments remain, bleeding into scene after scene. The format is a challenging experiment, but Calin’s writing is genuine and impactful nevertheless. I probably could have highlighted the entire book.

As a theater fan, I love how Calin incorporated parts of a school play that, in ways, paralleled the moments between Phyre and You. I admired Phyre’s passion and dedication to her craft, and so many of the creative elements incorporated into the production. It might be hard to believe that so much emotion could be alive and kicking in a book that isn’t overflowing with monologues or description but it is so there. So many times I had to close the book because the feelings were overwhelming and oh-so familiar.

Between You & Me has easily become one of my top reads of 2012, whether we are talking strictly about 2012 releases or of all the books I’ve read so far. It’s challenging, it’s thought provoking, and an innovative way of looking at relationships and preconceived notions of love and happiness. It just is.

Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon