When Katie and her family return home after an out-of-town funeral, they find themselves evicted from their apartment. To Katie’s dismay, her mother then settles into an Extended Stay hotel as their for-now home while she searches for a new job and an affordable apartment. A middle-grade memoir written in verse, The In-Between by Katie Van Heidrich (Simon & Schuster, January 2023) chronicles six weeks in her teenaged life in which she had no home.
Katie is in-between in a number of ways. She’s in-between homes as well as in-between her parents. Her mom is now setting up home in one hotel room and her now-remarried father in his suburban home. She feels in-between being in charge (such as she often has had to be when her mother was in-between herself) and letting her mother take charge. She is in-between with friends too: her new boyfriend and best friend have come at odds with each other. And mostly, Katie struggles with the in-between of her crowded and chaotic home life and the everything-as-usual routine at school.
The story is told in verse, and this format seems to emphasize the metaphors that appear in the book, such as “volcanoes” and “brick walls.” The verse format also lets the writing shine. There were so many relatable parallel thoughts and sentences in her stream-of-consciousness. I enjoyed how the verse format echoed those similarities throughout the text. Reading the story in verse encouraged me to consider how each sentence or thought was broken down and why it was done so, in order to see just which things were most significant to our narrator.
There is a lot of find in Katie’s story. This feeling of being “in-between” is one many will relate to, even if homelessness is not what they are facing.
I read a digital review copy of this book.