________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 6 . . . .November 9, 2007


The Space Between.

Don Aker.
Toronto, ON: HarperCollins, 2007.
245 pp., pbk., $14.99.
ISBN 978-00-0-200850-1.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Rachel Steen.

**** /4



That evening by the pool as she told me about Stefan, I wanted to reach out to my mother, wanted to tell her what she needed me to say: that she wasn't to blame for what happened, and that she'd done the best she could for him. But I couldn't. All I could think about was how much it must have cost Stefan to tell her what he did, how much it costs any of us to show others who we really are.


En route to Mexico, to fulfill his 18th birthday wish of losing his virginity, Jace struggles with a school writing assignment for his grade 12 English class and learns along the way that life is never as straightforward as it seems, and secrets, like the ocean tide, have a way of washing up on shore and unearthing something long since buried.

     Aptly named The Space Between, readers will find many connections to Jace's story, including his feeling of being an invisible middle child. Prior to Jace's older brother's suicide, (which is alluded to, but not fully revealed until later in the book), Stephan was the superstar athlete and student, with everything going for him. Jace's younger brother, Lucas, is autistic and requires special attention, and that leaves Jace in the middle, filling the space between the siblings.

      As secrets are revealed, a second, and equally important meaning can be derived from the title, suggesting that the space between is the space between the words; the unspoken secrets, which are destroying his family. Jace is riddled with guilt over the death of his brother, instinctively knowing that there was something important in those spaces, and he blames himself for not filling them in. There are also spaces between the members of his family, who are speaking more clearly with their spaces than with the words spoken out loud, and those of Kate and Connor, two young people Jace meets in Mexico whose spaces contain secrets that are equally revealing and startling.

      Relayed in first person narrative, Jace reveals himself to be a complex and richly layered character whose attempts to fill in the spaces in his notebook reward him with something more valuable than what he initially expected to find in Mexico- a sense of identity, and resolution.

      Immensely powerful, and ranging from comical to heartbreaking, the narration is intimate, detailed and profound, leaving readers with their own spaces to interpret and fill in from Jace's observations. This novel is a journey, and one which will reward and keep readers thinking about it long after they've turned the last page.

Highly Recommended.

Rachel Steen is the Elementary/YA selection manager at S&B Books in Mississauga, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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