Initial reaction: Bean was a relatable character that I liked following for the most part in this narrative of a geeky stargazing girl trying to navigate her way through several changes that occur in her life back-to-back. Still meditating on the rating (Probably between 3.5 and 4 stars), but I think Rebecca Maizel’s talent for showing character intimacy was well-noted here.
I honestly had no idea what to expect picking up Rebecca Maizel’s “Between Us and the Moon” – I did know that it was a book where the main character is an awkward, geeky teenager who’s just coming of age (she turns 16 in the story), and it’s a rollercoaster emotional ride of first-times, social awkwardness, and other things. I would definitely classify this as YA, but it contains mature themes and discussions (i.e. sex).
I know the blurb compares this with Judy Blume’s “Forever”, but I’m casting that comparison out of the window because I hate comparisons (Dangnabit, let a book sell on its own merits!). Instead, I’m just going to talk about the book itself.
Let me first say that with the scheme of events in this book, I didn’t think I’d like it, because it’s built on the premise that Bean (Sarah) is a girl who’s lying about her identity and she translates that lie in several places of her life in an effort to be what she thinks other people thinks she should be. Bean’s dumped by her boyfriend (cheated on and dumped, actually) and she thinks that she needs to change herself in order to be more accepted. She sees her older sister Scarlett as someone to model herself over, thus she begins the “Scarlett experiment”, where she models behavior she *thinks* her sister would embody – overt displays of confidence, dressy clothes, etc.
(For the record: she’s 15 starting this story turning 16, so her insecurities and actions given the context of this book – it makes sense. I didn’t like her actions or behavior, but the book does a decent job of showing why she acts like this, and I felt sorry for the poor girl because her family practically doesn’t seem like they give her enough attention or guidance for certain things.)
She ends up meeting a college guy named Andrew and the “experiment” continues with him being a part of it, but unwittingly. For the record, I loved Andrew and thought the narrative did a great job of showcasing his character. Bean, on the other hand, starts feeling the weight of this “experiment” and the contradictions as time goes forward.
Sometimes I was icked out, but I could see this actually happening to/with someone (and I wish it didn’t). I almost want to say that this book reminds me of how torn I was reading Katie Cotugno’s “99 Days” – it’s well written, the characterization is very on point, and expands on its subject well despite how contentious the overarching story may be. I actually think this feels more realistic (and more maturely handled) than many purported New Adult novels tend to be on its subject matter. But did it build a memorable connection with me? Yes and no. I’m glad at least it was realistic in its handling and that Bean has a coming to terms that progressively came across in the novel, but it was still something that I had a hard time connecting with – in part for the relationships (Bean’s lie, the context and events that happened before the reveal was made, including sexual relationships) and in part for the very nature of it, I guess.
The open ending left me feeling neutral about the narrative as a whole because there’s something unspoken about the relationship there, which could work, but it still doesn’t feel like there’s some follow-up of consequence from that.
Overall, I’m putting this up half a star because Luci Christian did a fantastic job of the audio narration, and I’d certainly read more from Maizel in the future, though I’m familiar with her narratives already, just not in this particular genre.
Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.