The In-Between

The In-Between
Age Range
Release Date
January 17, 2023
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For fans of Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle and Life in Motion by Misty Copeland, this middle grade memoir in verse chronicles a young girl and her family who must start over after losing their home.

In the early 2000s, thirteen-year-old Katie Van Heidrich has moved more times that she can count, for as long as she can remember. There were the slow moves where you see the whole thing coming. There were the fast ones where you grab what you can in seconds. When Katie and her family come back from an out-of-town funeral, they discover their landlord has unceremoniously evicted them, forcing them to pack lightly and move quickly.

They make their way to an Extended Stay America Motel, with Katie’s mother promising it’s temporary. Within the four walls of their new home, Katie and her siblings, Josh and Haley, try to live a normal life—all while wondering if things would be easier living with their father. Lyrical and forthcoming, Katie navigates the complexities that come with living in-between: in between homes, parents, and childhood and young adulthood, all while remaining hopeful for the future.

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1 review
Insecure housing caused by divorce
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When Katie and her family return to their apartment from a funeral, they find that the landlord hasn't fed the fish, which have died, or taken the cat out of her carrier. Angered, her mother throws the fish tank down the steps, and the family pack up their few belongings and take off. With the help of a family friend, they end up in an extended stay hotel. Katie's mother has a history of difficulty in keeping jobs, and the parents divorce was very bitter, especially when it came to custody of Katie and her younger siblings, Josh and Haley. Their father (who is white; their mother is black) lives with his new wife, Ning, a little distance away, in a nice house with spare rooms, and the children do go to visit him on the weekends. Katie wishes that they could live with him, instead of in the cramped hotel room, but her mother is afraid she would not be able to hold onto them. Living in a hotel has a lot of problems, and Katie is afraid when she gets a notice at school that proof of residence can be required at any time, since her mother now drives her some distance back to their school because the family is no longer in district. Katie struggles with school while dealing with the difficult living arrangements and the tension between her parents.
Good Points
There are a lot of my students who have to deal with parents who have trouble keeping jobs, are struggling with custody arrangements, or who are housing insecure, so it's good to see this reflected in the literature. Katie understands logically why her family is in the situation it is, but obviously can't quite comes to terms with this insecurity emotionally. She hopes that things will get better, and has some positive influences in her life, and also tries to make things a little better for her younger brother and sister. Aside from Baptiste's Isaiah Dunn is My Hero, I can't think of another book that depicts a family living in a hotel, although there are a decent number of middle grade books depicting life in homeless shelters.

This sounded like it might have been semi-autobiographical, since the setting seemed to be just post 9/11 and the characters have names similar to the author's family in the end notes. I would have liked more details about living in the hotel (like Nielsen's 2018 No Fixed Address) but can understand why the author focused on the emotions rather than the experience.

This will be popular with readers who enjoyed Hopkins' Closer to Nowhere or Lowell's 2022 The Road to After which are also a problem novels in verse. The cover is intriguing!
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