Book #04

The Girl In Between by Laekan Zea Kemp

Bryn is afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome. She suffers episodes of sleep that steal weeks and months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.

But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals he knows more about her symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive. 

Bryn suffers from an illness which makes her fall asleep without warning. She can sleep for days, sometimes months, without waking, as her life seems to pass her by uncontrollably. When sleeping, she enters a dream state which is composed entirely of her memories - her grandparents’ old home, places she’d visited as a child, the trailer in which she grew up with her mother - until one day a boy appears. She’s never seen him before, and he is not a memory; he’s real.

Although quite slow in the beginning, Bryn’s story becomes very engaging, and it quickly became important to me to understand what was going on in her head, and to discover the identity of the guy popping up in her dreamland.

The prose here was enjoyable as we flick from real life into dreamland and back again. The narrative shifts almost mysteriously from simple descriptions of school classrooms and home life, to more lyrical and profound depictions of a mystical landscape filled with memory and objects both strange and familiar.

There’s a lot of commentary here about being a teen with an illness, and how that impacts on your life, and the perceptions others have on your life. You want to be normal, but no one sees you as normal. Small things which don’t affect others, will affect you, and making them understand is difficult. I was able to relate to all of this, and it was nice to see there was no real view of Bryn overcoming this, as in fact you will remain the sick kid for the rest of your life. However I felt it was important it was highlighted, and that sick teens reading this could take some comfort and community from it.

The finale ended in quite an unsatisfying way, but sets up well for the sequel novel. There were many things we didn’t get to explore, such as how and why the boy ended up in Bryn’s head, but I imagine this will be explored in more detail in the later novels. It’s disappointing, but admittedly an effective way of encouraging readers to continue with the series, and I’m sure I’ll pick up the sequel fairly soon.