The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said. Jo Knowles Read Between the Lines is hands down one of the best books of 2015.
There is always power in words, but often we give even more power to body language and gestures. This entire collection of voices, inspired by an incident Jo Knowles experienced when a man (with two small children in the car) gave her family the finger. It is a silent gesture that holds so much power. But Read Between the Lines explores this unspoken power of one finger and the secrets and hidden emotions that might lay hidden behind it.
The premise behind Read Between the Lines is that we've all been subjected to the one finger salute, whether we were on the receiving end or the one given it. Knowles takes this concept and intricately weaves an entire world around it- highlighting the lives of several high school students. Knowles allows the reader to become immersed into the lives, lies, and secrets of Nathan, Lacy, Dylan, Jack, Grace, Stephen, and Claire among others. Seeing the entire picture through multiple perspectives is key to this novel.
Not everything is as it is seems. These characters are real, their voices unique to their circumstances. At times the characters were brutally honest and others- hiding secrets; not only from their friends and the reader, but also from themselves. Like in life, some people change and grow while others remain stagnant and unchanging. But they share one thing in common-they all are affected by their life choice, by the people they encounter, by events beyond their control, and even by a single finger. It is one of the most authentic sets of voices I have seen in a very long time.
As a reader, you must hold back your own initial gut responses and not made judgments on what you simply see in a few moments or actions. You cannot make judgments based on assumptions. I found myself loving characters, then hating them, and then feeling guilty that I too had jumped to conclusions about who they were as people.– In all truth, even in real life, no one should judge anyone- going back to the old saying, “ Don’t judge a person until you walked a mile in their shoes.”
The entire story centers around a few days in the lives of high school students. It is hard at times to remember that theses characters are in deed fictional. They harken back to people and friends I have known. Each chapter is from a different point of view, yet they all connect. It was fun to read each section and try and guess how each story connected. Read Between the Lines is a riveting book I just couldn’t put down. And at the same time I was sad to say goodbye to all these new people I had just gotten to know. The entire book builds up to the last few pages- it is shocking and left me in complete awe of Jo Knowles and how artfully she crafted this story.
This book leaves me thinking and looking inward as well. It has been a long time since a book has done this. It reminds me that everyone has a story to tell and we don’t always get the whole picture. What we see on the outside- there is probably a lot more going on inside that we cannot even fathom. This book truly changed me- and that makes this read incredible!
I truly believe this is a must read for adults and young adults alike, fans of contemporary fiction, John Green and Rainbow Rowell, will find a kindred spirit in Jo Knowles. Even if contemporary fiction isn’t always your “cup of tea”. Take time and read Read Between the Lines, it is sure to make the top best books of 2015. Read it!