Monday, February 4, 2013
Review: The Space Between Us
Author: Jessica Martinez
Release date: October 16th 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Hardcover, 400 pages
Buy: The Book Depository
I bought my copy of The Space Between Us right on the release date, October 16th 2012, and then spent almost three months staring at it longingly, too much of a coward to actually read it. I’d been almost afraid of it. Well, not almost, I was honestly scared– considering how much I loved Virtuosity, Martinez’s debut novel, my expectations were pretty high, and I knew there was much room for disappointment.
It’s possible that I’m being vastly unfair by comparing the Space Between Us with Virtuosity, but in my own defense, Martinez was the one who set the bar so high. I don’t read contemporary that often, not if I can avoid it (which I usually can), and there aren’t many contemporary titles that left a lasting mark on me, but Virtuosity is one of them. The honesty of it all, the psychological insight, convinced me that Martinez is a skilled storyteller. Alas, I was headed straight for disappointment.
Teen pregnancy is never easy, but when your father is a pastor and you end up being severely punished for it even though you’re not the one who’s actually pregnant… well, hard doesn’t even begin to describe it. That’s Amelia’s life in a nutshell. She is a high school senior, captain of the female hockey team, responsible, serious and very restrained. Or at least she was, until her younger sister Charly, a party person and an attention-seeker, got pregnant. Instead of finishing her senior year and going to Columbia as she’d planned, Amelia ends up moving to Canada for six months to help cover up her sister’s shameful secret. Her achievements mean nothing – what Charly needs, Charly always gets, and this time she needs Amelia to sacrifice everything that matters to her.
I wish I were one of those people who can like a book even though they don’t like any of the characters. I am not. Being in Amelia’s head was, quite frankly, a horrifying experience. If there was ever a more unlikable character, I must have blocked it out of my memory because I simply can’t remember it now. But here are a few facts about our narrator: she is utterly incapable of standing up for herself when it matters and she’s painfully aware of it, so to compensate, she takes her issues out on everyone else, especially people who are actually nice to her. She thinks she’s better/ smarter/ more deserving than anyone around her, and it’s not an opinion she ever keeps to herself. She is suspicious, rude to nice people and always ready to lash out at the slightest provocation… or even without one. I have yet to stumble upon a more close-minded, judgmental character. I would have preferred a true anti-heroine instead of this accomplished, yet utterly unlikable protagonist.
Keeping all of it in mind, it stands to reason that she’s too self-absorbed to fall in love, at least in a way that would convince the readers and have them rooting for her romance. And again the comparison is inevitable; Ezra is a decent love interest, nicely fleshed-out, but Jeremy King he is not. And while I’m being unfair, Jeremy and Carmen had so much chemistry between them that’s simply not there between Amelia and Ezra, although they had a few lovely moments. Again, Amelia is too self-centered to every truly be in a relationship and as hard as Martinez tried to redeem her (or have her redeem herself) towards the end, in my opinion, it was too little, too late.
I do think that contemporary fans might find something more in Jessica Martinez’s sophomore novel. It is not my genre of choice and I doubt it ever will be, so please take my opinion with a grain of salt.