Infinite In Between by Carolyn Mackler is getting starred reviews. Jake, Mia, Whitney, Zoe and Gregor are grouped together at high school orientation in rural upstate New York. They must think of a project that will bond them together and be accomplished that afternoon. They decide to write a letter to their future selves, hide it somewhere in the school and meet after graduation under the basketball hoop in the school yard to read their letters.
Infinite In Between follows the quintet through four years of high school, going their separate ways and coming back together. The teens run the gamut: a gay guy, a biracial girl, an Asian girl, a daughter of a movie star (constantly in rehab) who is living with her aunt and a stereotypical teen guy. Their experiences run the gamut from illness to dating complications to sexual identity to college applications to getting drivers licenses to getting pregnant to alcohol consumption. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of any issue Mackler left out. (That could be one of my issues with the book.)
The story is told by month over the four years with short chapters about various quintet members.
As with other Mackler titles, (I’ve read The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things, Vegan Virgin Valentine, Love and Other Four Letter Words, and The Future of Us co-written with Jay Asher) her current title is extremely readable. It’s a fast read despite its 400+ pages. Each and every character, with one exception, is likable (possibly another issue I have with the book).
If a starred review means you like a book and want to read it to find out what happens, then Infinite in Between earned its stars. However, if a starred review means it’s a fantastic, well written, can’t see how it could have been much better book, then it falls short. As I said earlier, Mackler packed virtually every teen issue into this book. That might, and I said might, have been OK if she’d tackled the issues, but 90% of them turned out happily-no muss, no fuss, no bother. What’s more, she treats a high school girl getting pregnant and the father having no responsibility with equal weight as getting a drivers license. If she got shit from her parents, we don’t know about it. If she confronted the father, we don’t know. The only thing we do know is that she decided to give birth. Is she giving the baby up for adoption? Is she going to keep it? What is she going to do about college and child care? All important questions that should be addressed, even though it does not happen to one of the quintet.
As for every character being likable? Come on, there has got to be at least one unlikable bully in high school. That’s just a fact of life; someone who would make the life of a gay guy, a biracial girl, an Asian girl or the daughter of a movie star totally miserable. To gloss over this is unrealistic.
Listen, I’m not saying every Young Adult book must be as issue driven as those of Patricia McCormick, Laurie Halse Anderson or Dana Reinhardt. But, hey, even characters in Sarah Dessen, Emery Lord and Morgan Matson novels have significant(?) issues they need to overcome before they get to the happy ending and how they got there is apparent (and part of the reading enjoyment, I think). In Infinite In Between, the one big issue is ignored and the quintet’s minor issues (because truly they all are minor) are expounded.
Since I don’t give numerical ratings on this blog, I will merely say that I must be jaded by something because in my humble opinion Infinite In Between does not warrant a starred review. It is a nice, feel good read, however, and well worth your time.