“Between the Dark Spaces” by Melissa Groeling

“Between the Dark Spaces” by Melissa Groeling 172 265 Reader Views Kids

Between the Dark Spaces

Melissa Groeling
Independently Published (2022)
ISBN: 979-8985908305
Reviewed by Stephanie Elizabeth Long for Reader Views (10/2022)

Teens Chapman and Aris couldn’t be any different—Chapman lives in the wealthier end of town and attends a prestigious private school, while Aris and her father struggle to make ends meet. While their lives are vastly different, the plight of caring for an addict is an unfortunate commonality. There’s that and the mutual attraction shared whenever their paths cross. They are further fettered when a horrible accident almost takes Chapman’s life, and shocking revelations are made. The two become enmeshed in a scandal rife with family secrets.

“Between the Dark Spaces” by Melissa Groeling is a thrilling young adult book about secrets and getting even. Written from the third-person perspective, each chapter alternates between Chapman and Aris as they try to make sense of Chapman’s horrifying accident and how their loved ones fit into the puzzling conflict. Teeming with anger and propelled by the desire for justice, the two must work together to unearth the truth, even if that means exposing family members.

I thought the author did an excellent job of developing the backstories of Aris and Chapman before amalgamating their experience. By strategically dropping breadcrumbs of information at a steady pace, I was quickly lured in, and the more I began to speculate about how it would all fit together, which kept me reading to find out if I was correct. Further, the author deftly succeeded in providing a relatable, age-appropriate voice for young adult readers. Coming-of-age, grief, death, and revenge were themes expertly woven into the immersive plot.

 “Between the Dark Spaces” aptly illustrates the formidable beast that is drugs. The way it can tear through families, causing rifts and irrevocable damage, was captured through Aris’s PTSD from living with an addict and Chapman’s tumultuous friendship with the Peterson boys. In addition, it highlighted the tactics abusers and enablers use to control a drug addict, like gaslighting and destroying their self-worth. While the book is geared toward young adults, these topics will resonate with all audiences.

Overall, “Between the Dark Spaces” had an intriguing premise. Despite the weighty topics explored, it was peppered with lighter themes relatable to younger teen readers. In addition, the main characters were flawed but likable, immature but evolving, and fiercely unique—everything that makes up a protagonist worth rooting for.

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