Between You & Me by Marisa Calin Review + Giveaway! #CFMonth13

Posted June 9, 2013 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 22 Comments

Between You & Me by Marisa Calin
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Publish Date: August 7, 2012
Source: Ginger from GReads!Thank you!
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

Phyre knows there is something life-changing about her new drama teacher, Mia, from the moment they meet. As Phyre rehearses for the school play, she comes to realize that the unrequited feelings she has for Mia go deeper than she’s ever experienced. Especially with a teacher. Or a woman. All the while, Phyre’s best friend—addressed throughout the story in the second person, as “you”—stands by, ready to help Phyre make sense of her feelings. But just as Mia doesn’t understand what Phyre feels, Phyre can’t fathom the depth of her best friend’s feelings . . . until it’s almost too late for a happy ending. Characters come to life through the innovative screenplay format of this dazzling debut, and unanswered questions—is “you” male or female?—will have readers talking. -(from Goodreads) 

Between You & Me by Marisa Calin

My Thoughts:  Wow, this book is so very different from anything I’ve ever read before. Ever. In my life. 

The first thing you need to know is this:
Main character Phyre has developed feelings for her theater teacher. 
Phyre’s feelings develop from a small fascination into a full-on crush that becomes one of those all-consuming life-size things that takes over her thoughts and her mind and her heart. It isn’t the biggest shock in the world that a student could ever develop a crush on a teacher, right? It happens. Well, in this case, Phyre’s teacher is a female and this is the first time that Phyre has ever felt these feelings for a person of the same gender. 

It doesn’t help that Mia, the teacher, is really pretty. And super nice. And that during theater class – during the acting exercises – Mia encourages her students, Phyre included, to really feel and express their feelings and emotions. This gives Phyre something to concentrate on while listening to the sound of Mia’s voice and watching her movements and all of that. It’s pretty excruciating to read this crush, or at least it was for me. (I’ll tell you why in the ‘second thing.’)

Phyre doesn’t really know what to do with these “odd” feelings she’s having. She doesn’t feel like she can tell anyone and she doesn’t really know if she wants to. She doesn’t know if Mia feels the same way she does and she sometimes acts just slightly inappropriately because of this. 

The second thing you need to know is this:
Phyre’s BFF – known as “YOU” – has feelings for Phyre.
This was so obvious to me. And painful. So, so painful. YOU just adored Phyre to pieces and Phyre either acted oblivious to it or actually was oblivious to it. Isn’t that always how it is when one person likes the best friend, at least for a while? Man, it was so hard to read Phyre follow Mia around over and over and talk non-stop about Mia to YOU, and poor YOU would just grin and take it – all the while stifling his/her feelings and keeping silent. Silently wanting. 

Absolutely gut-wrenching, but it always is. Why do I love to read those best-friend-falls-in-love-with-other-friend books? I don’t know. In this case, it wasn’t my favorite. But it still broke my heart. 

The third thing you need to know is this:
The book is written in script or screenplay format. 
I’m not sure exactly what the terminology is. 
But you can look at my nifty little picture down there to see what I mean.
Dear people of the world, I will watch theater a million times and love it, but I don’t DO theater. I am not an actor. So outside of the story itself, I had a hard time following along with the book. A really hard time, actually. Now, that doesn’t mean anyone else will have a hard time. In fact, I’ve had several reading friends that really, really enjoyed this story and the format and everything. But I found that I was constantly re-reading the little paragraphs trying to figure out who was “ME” and who was “YOU” and which parts were being actually spoken and which parts weren’t. 

A theater person, I am not. 

BUT BUT BUT that is merely structural and has nothing to do with the actual story. 

Well hello there, book that is written as a screenplay.
I am not used to books like you. 


Between You & Me by Marisa Calin is a very different book – it’s one that took plenty of risks and I think that is awesome. I love it when an author takes something that is outside the box, outside the norm, and runs with it. There may be other books like this one out there – if there are, I’m not familiar with them. As you can see from my picture, this book was absolutely like a script. There will be readers that will love it and there will be readers that will struggle a little bit with it. I am of the latter bunch. 

The story itself was okay and also a bit different – main character Phyre develops a crush on a teacher, who happens to be a girl, and struggles with these feelings of same-gender crushing. All the while her BFF – is it a boy? is it a girl? WE NEVER KNOW. – struggles with watching Phyre crush on someone else. So we have a bit of a romance and a bit of an identity story with coming-of-age too, I think. 

I think, for me personally, that the format of the book mixed with the fact that I didn’t know anything about the best friend, YOU – well, it just took away from the story a little bit for me. It left me too much work to do when really what I wanted was enjoy a story. Some readers really enjoy stories that require thinking critically and I think that is fantastic. But for me, one who reads to escape, I would’ve loved either a narrative structure or a gender assignment to YOU to lessen the amount of work it took me to get through this book. But, again, that’s just ME. 

Overall, I will say that I love the risks the author took and that there is certainly an audience for a book like this. I am glad that I read this book and feel like I got a lot from it even though it was a struggle for me. I know that I can recommend it to certain reading friends that would enjoy it. Also important is that I love the way that the book resolved and rounded out and left me in a good place with the ending. 

I recommend Between You & Me to fans of YA Contemporary, fans of quirky or risky books, and/or LGBT stories. You should have no trouble reading it if you can read screenplays and if you have never tried to read them, perhaps you should give it a go. Even though I struggled a little bit with this structure, I would love to see what else Marisa Calin puts out in the future because I did like the risks she took with this story and I want to see what she does next. 


Between You & Me will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult Contemporary Romance

Structure: Screenplay/Script

Between You & Me by Marisa Calin

is currently available for purchase. 


And now for the Giveaway!

I’m giving away an ARC of 
by Marisa Calin 
to one winner!

This contest is open worldwide
and ends Saturday June 15.


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


22 responses to “Between You & Me by Marisa Calin Review + Giveaway! #CFMonth13

  1. So honestly, I didn't have any plans to read this book. I try to avoid books where there's a teacher/student relationship because, as a soon-to-be teacher, it creeps me out. However, I didn't know 1) the thing about YOU, and 2) the formatting. Now I'm thinking I may have to give this a whirl. The way that YOU is not given a gender intrigues me. Also, I love any kind of unusual/unique structural systems (that sounds weird, but you know what I mean, right?!). Though I wasn't in love with the book MONSTER by Walter Dean Myers, I really enjoyed the structural aspect of a screenplay written by the main character. Thank you so much for reviewing this, Asheley!

    • I haven't read the Walter Dean Myers book!
      I don't think I'm really creeped out by the teacher/student thing because it is a real thing that happens and I can separate myself from it – but I understand that I'm far enough removed that it is easy for me. So that didn't bother me and it wouldn't really keep me from reading a book at all. In fact, I've read other books with those types of relationships and it didn't bother me where it DID bother my friends, and I was like WHAT WHY? 🙂

      But between the structure and not knowing about YOU being a guy or a girl, I think I just had to put to much thought into the story to 'escape' and I'm such an escape-reader. But I've read on several blogs where the readers just absolutely loved this one. I feel confident that if one of those two things wasn't present, I could've connected more. I do love this cover, though. It was risky and I love that this author went there with her writing. I'd read more by her in a heartbeat.

  2. I've read a few screenplays in my life and really like the format! But I wonder if a novel written that way would read differently than an actual play you're supposed to perform? Also, I agree with Randi that I'm uncomfortable with the teacher/student relationship. THOUGH it doesn't sound like Mia does anything inappropriate, and that it's all in Phyre's head.

    Like you, I think I'd struggle with the YOU format. Although very clever, I don't like we don't find out anything about that character. It sounds like one of those really neat ideas that may not actually work out that well practically. I like to see a relationship build between two people, and it just sounds like this could get painful to read.

    Although I'm not sure I'll pick this one up, thank you for bringing it to my attention! I'd probably never heard of it otherwise.

    • No, Mia doesn't do anything inappropriate and the feelings that Phyre experience are crush-feelings. But you know how crushes are, they grow and grow and kind of take over, and that person is all you can think about. So Phyre goes through this period when she thinks about Mia a great deal and everything is kind of Mia, Mia, Mia and that is so hard for YOU. It really is all in Phyre's head and that becomes obvious as the story progresses.

      I'd read several really great reviews (from Alexa Loves Books and Rather Be Reading in particular) of this book and I was interested in it but I knew that it would be sort of out-of-the-box for me. I knew about YOU and that YOU wasn't assigned a gender – interestingly, as I read I tried SO HARD to figure out if that character is a guy or a girl and I just could not. The author is so good at making YOU unidentifiable and I think that is pretty amazing how she is able to do that. I think it probably did work out, but just *for me* between the structure (since I'm so visually-oriented) and working so hard to figure YOU out, instead of being able to escape into the story, it was just a little bit too hard for me. If one of those two things wasn't present – the structure or the gender-neutral, I feel like I'd have enjoyed the story more. But I don't think the teacher/student thing is inappropriately written at all – I liked reading it, actually, because those types of feelings and relationships do exist IRL.

  3. Hm. This is one of my favorite books, hands down. I'm a little concerned that the above commenter is turned off by the student/teacher relationship. It's merely a crush. We've all had crushes on older people, right? Love the mystery in this one. I read it through twice. Once, not noticing the sex and second pinpointing all the details to figure things out. When I met Marisa afterwards, she didn't reveal anything. haha. I thought it was a fun way to read a book, stripped of a basic detail. It makes you concentrate more on the details — movements, gestures, words.

    • Aah, crushes. Yes, absolutely.

      I wonder – if I'd not read the previous reviews about YOU – if I'd have read it through differently? I read it trying so hard to figure out about YOU – that being kind of my main goal (I know, I shouldn't have done that) and I think I kind of lost the story because of it. HOWEVER, I do love those stories like YOU experiences, with feelings like YOU has, so that was probably my favorite part of the entire book. I loved my heart breaking along with YOU's heart (I'm weird) and all of those ups and downs.

      The way you love the stripped-down-ness of this book, that's how I feel about verse novels. I love them for this reason, but I think they're easier for me to read than this structure. So glad I read and experienced it though. And I found it first on your blog, I think, then Alexa's.

  4. I think this book is completely different. The first time I know of a book in the form of a screenplay. I´m not sure it´s the type of book I would like, I appreciate the originalyty of the format, thou. A risky way to write a book, I think. You like it or you hate. I don´t know, If give a chance to this.

    • It's always good to give books a chance, I think, particularly when they are new to us. I hadn't ever read anything like this before. I liked the story a lot but thought the screenplay was a little tough. But I'd definitely read another one, for sure.

  5. This is one of those I keep waffling back and forth on. I honestly didn't realize it was written in a script format, and I can see how that would take you out of the story a bit. I WAS a theater person, and read tons of Shakespeare once upon a time, so I think I might be okay with it? Also, teacher-student romances make me uber uncomfortable, but I did see the author on a panel and really loved everything she had to say (it also seemed like this was just a teacher crush and not actually a relationship?). I like the idea of a gener-less character, in fact, one of my favorite books from college was Written on the Body which had a genderless character and was phenomenal.

    • Honestly, in this book, the thing with Mia and Phyre isn't an actual romance – Phyre just has a crush on Mia. So Mia doesn't act on anything – it's all Phyre exploring her thoughts and feelings on what it feels like to 1) like an older person/teacher and 2) have that person be same-gender.

      I really loved the YOU story-line. But I wish I knew if YOU was a boy or a girl! I think it was brilliantly done, however, because there was NO WAY at all I could tell. Bravo to the author.

  6. I thought this book was good but a little gimmicky with the second person POV, the screenplay format, and the vagueness of gender. All a bit much. Love the theater setting though-always adore theater stories as someone who doesn't have much acting ability.

    • I can see how you might think it gimmicky with everything all at once – it certainly was a little bit of a shock to me, but once I got used to it – while I never really was able to get FULLY used to it – I could make my way around the story enough to tell what was going on. I liked the story a lot and particularly the story-line with YOU. I thought that part was brilliantly written.

  7. This book sounds interesting… I have once read a book on teacher/student relation and enjoyed it so i think i will enjoy this too

  8. I adored this book! Estelle was the one who recommended it to me, and I'm glad she did. As a theater person, I had no problems with the screenplay format, though I can understand why other people would find it a bit confusing. I liked the combination of elements though – YOU being of unknown gender, the crush Phyre has on her teacher, the theater aspect.

    • Yes! I read this because of you and Estelle and how you guys felt about it. It was totally confusing to me, but I got the gist of the story. The YOU part – absolutely brilliant – loved it. I loved the riskiness of everything and just give the author a standing ovation for writing this one. Glad I read it and loved the way it ended!

  9. This sounds like a completely unique read, from the actual story line to the way it was written. I have read very few screenplays and I Have found them to be difficult. This does sound like a consuming enough story that I probably wouldn't have noticed the new (to me) format. Great review of a very interesting sounding book.

    • Hey Bonnie! It is very interesting – I liked it though. I was thrown, as you know, but the structure, but I liked the YOU story-line so much that it covered everything. I liked the way Phyre had her own inner thoughts and learned so much about herself – I don't know, I just thought it was really great. I just got confused with the actual words on the page being in that format. Great story, though.

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