Great YA historical fiction
Elaine is the child of poor Irish immigrants growing up in turn of the century New York City. When Elaine’s mother dies from the Spanish flu. Elaine struggles to keep her family together.
Elaine’s daughter, Molly, is growing up in 1950’s San José, California. She is crushed by the breakup of her parents marriage and desperately attempting to understand her distant mother and learn her secrets.
I really love historical fiction. I find I enjoy YA most often when it has some history to it. It gives the story more depth and perspective. I was really pleasantly surprised to discover that ‘Between Before & After’ contained dual timelines from the 1950’s and 1910’s.
I also loved that the timelines were of a mother and daughter with the mother included in the daughters timeline. I really liked Elaine’s 1910’s story more than Molly’s 1950’s story. The struggles (including poverty, abuse, and alcoholism) of immigrants in New York in the early twenty century is harrowing. I felt like Molly’s story was a little less put together than Elaine’s. A few times the dialog in Molly’s point of view seemed a little rambling. Also, I really thought the whole miracle thing with Uncle Stephan took away from Molly’s story.
Little things I loved about the story: 1950’s pop culture (the characters first trip to McDonald’s) and the homing pigeons.
I thought the story wrapped up well. It gave a good conclusion without being tied up too neatly. I really enjoyed ‘Between Before & After’. A family historical drama with two great YA protagonists. One of my favorite YA’s.