Review of The In-Between, by Katie Van Heidrich

The In-Between

A Memoir in Verse

by Katie Van Heidrich

Aladdin, 2023. 295 pages.
Review written September 12, 2023, from a book sent to me by the publisher.
Starred Review

The In-Between tells the story of Katie’s family when her mother was in between jobs and they were in between homes.

It starts in an awful way (awful for Katie, but well-written for us). Katie is thirteen, and she and her mother and two younger siblings come home from their Grandpa’s funeral after an eight-hour drive to learn that their landlord didn’t feed the pets as he’d promised. Their dog is whimpering in her crate and the fish are belly-up in their tank.

Their mother takes everything in, then grabs the fish tank and takes it out their front door.

Mom? I ask nervously.
She doesn’t answer or
bother looking my way.
Instead, she holds the fish tank
high above her head,
careful not to drip
any of the rancid water
over herself and
without announcement or explanation,
sends the entire tank crashing
exploding right onto
our landlord’s doorstep downstairs.

They pack up, as they’ve done many times, and leave that apartment. They end up staying in an Extended Stay Hotel for weeks, while Katie’s mother looks for a job. They spend weekends at their father’s place in the suburbs, but the rest of the time when they’re not at school, they’re all together in one room.

Katie doesn’t want her friends to know what’s going on. And she needs to make sure the school doesn’t know, since the hotel is not in the same school district. And she wonders why their dad won’t take them all the time and how to navigate her mother’s moods.

There are photos at the back, and I especially like the smiling author photo on the back flap – so we know that Katie got through this and emerged resilient.

I’ve found
that the in-between doesn’t have to be
the very end of the world and
that sometimes,
we just have to keep going
and face what scares us,
including ourselves,
especially ourselves,
that’s all you can do.

This is a promising debut book. I hope we’ll hear more from this author!

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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