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The Space Between Us

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Overview

From the author of Virtuosity, a novel about two sisters and the secrets they tell, the secrets they keep—and the secret that could tear them apart.

Amelia is used to being upstaged by her charismatic younger sister, Charly. She doesn’t mind, mostly, that it always falls to her to cover for Charly’s crazy, impulsive antics. But one night, Charly’s thoughtlessness goes way too far, and she lands both sisters in serious trouble.

Amelia’s not sure...

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Overview

From the author of Virtuosity, a novel about two sisters and the secrets they tell, the secrets they keep—and the secret that could tear them apart.

Amelia is used to being upstaged by her charismatic younger sister, Charly. She doesn’t mind, mostly, that it always falls to her to cover for Charly’s crazy, impulsive antics. But one night, Charly’s thoughtlessness goes way too far, and she lands both sisters in serious trouble.

Amelia’s not sure she can forgive Charly this time, and not sure she wants to…but forgiveness is beside the point. Because Charly is also hiding a terrible secret, and the truth just might tear them apart forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sherryn Craig
Secrets, sacrifice, and sisterhood are the themes of this modern coming-of-age novel. Amelia begins her senior year having just broken up with her boyfriend. Homecoming preparations and a big game keep her distracted, yet she feels disengaged. Amelia and her younger sister, Charlie, have been raised by their grandmother since their mother’s death. Having suffered the loss of one parent, Amelia feels she may be losing another. A growing disconnect emerges between Amelia and her dad. His career as a minister keeps him out of the house and on the road. It’s no surprise that Amelia feels ready to leave Tremonton, Florida. She has her heart set on attending Columbia University, but fate intervenes. Amelia’s dream of traveling north soon becomes reality, but instead of reinventing herself in New York, she and Charlie are headed for Banff, Canada, where they will finish out their second term while living with their Aunt Bree. Amelia must deal with a host of disappointments. To compartmentalize her pain, she shuts people out, closing herself off from family and what’s left of her friends. Amelia reasons that if there are no expectations, then disappointment will not follow. When a new acquaintance named Ezra enters her life, sparks fly, but will they kindle a thaw? Martinez’s characters are complex and richly layered. The pace of the dialogue is quick, with Amelia’s sarcasm on full display. Martinez captures the angst of being a teenager, and a young woman on the verge of adulthood. Amelia’s snarky comments are brilliantly written and entertaining to read. The volatile relationship between Amelia and Charlie is raw, filled with tension that reinforces the characters’ internal and external conflicts. The book deals with important, perhaps controversial issues that will leave readers thinking long after they have finished the book. Reviewer: Sherryn Craig; Ages 12 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend because he admits loving her younger sister, Charly, Amelia Mercer concentrates on surviving senior year by focusing on her plans to head to Columbia University and escaping her small Florida town. When gorgeous, vivacious Charly comes home disheveled and disoriented after staying out all night, both she and Amelia are in trouble with their strict grandmother. The situation worsens when Charly learns she is pregnant. Grandma springs into action to protect the reputation of their father, an abstinence-preaching Southern Methodist pastor. To avoid gossip, both Charly and Amelia are sent to Canada to stay with Bree, the half-sister of their mother, who died when they were toddlers. Coping with snow, wind, and bone-chilling temperatures adds to Amelia's self-pity and hopelessness, especially after Columbia turns her down. Bree provides Charly with support and sympathy. Meanwhile, Amelia rejects offers of friendship until she reluctantly acknowledges Ezra, who shoulders family problems more daunting than hers. When Charly reveals that she had been raped, Amelia regrets her unsympathetic behavior. Then the plot unexpectedly speeds up with a number of major actions and decisions. While Amelia, Charly, and Ezra emerge as complex characters, others are shadowy at best. Most puzzling is why the father looms so large since he has little direct involvement with his daughters. Amelia's honest voice incorporates humor even as she reveals sometimes painful observations about herself and others. Readers who concentrate on the sister relationship or the Amelia-Ezra romance will appreciate the novel.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Kirkus Reviews
Teen pregnancy is a source of shame in this disappointing second outing from Martinez (Virtuosity, 2011). Amelia and Charly are very close, but as different as siblings can be: Amelia focuses on academics and athletics, and is almost prissy in her moral uprightness, while Charly flirts with the boundaries of acceptable behavior for preachers' kids with her devil-may-care antics and free-spirited adventures. When Charly discovers that she's pregnant after what appears to be a one-night stand, the girls' grandmother chooses a very mid-20th-century approach to squashing the inevitable conservative small-town gossip, sending the girls to live with their late mother's sister, Bree, in Calgary, until Charly gives birth and selects adoptive parents for her baby. Grandma's jaw-droppingly retro decision, motivated by a wish to protect the girls' father from the truth, means that both girls have to go to maintain the fiction of going to acquaint themselves with their Canadian relatives. Amelia, furious at being so out of control of her life, lashes out repeatedly at Charly. Amelia doesn't exercise much self-awareness until she sees how gracefully Ezra—the cute library worker with whom she enjoys crackling chemistry—handles his own family burdens, and Charly finally confides the terrible secret she's been hiding. This old-fashioned–feeling problem novel lets readers down in its focus on shame rather than the hugely life-altering results of teen pregnancy. Deeply troubling and unsatisfying. (Fiction. 12-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442420564
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: 9/24/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 801,328
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jessica Martinez lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, her two children, and her violin. She spends her days writing, running, and teaching her children to be music lovers. She is the author of Virtuosity, The Space Between Us, and The Vow. Visit her at JessicaMartinez.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Charlotte Mercer, please report to Principal Blackburn’s office. Charlotte Mercer to Principal Blackburn’s office.”

Static crackled, then the PA system cut out. I could feel all twenty-two heads turn, but I kept my eyes on my paper and gripped my pencil just a little tighter. Even Mr. Mason stopped taking the derivative on the board and glanced over his shoulder at me.

I forced myself to keep writing. Move along, nothing to see here. As it was, the minute class was over I’d be fielding questions about what she’d done. Like I knew.

Mr. Mason went back to the problem on the board, and one by one, the weight of the stares lifted.

Please don’t be another frog.

Last week she’d taken a huge bite out of one of the formaldehyde-soaked frogs in the biology lab. She couldn’t have just nibbled off a tiny piece and spit it out. No, of course not. Apparently the dare stipulated chewing and swallowing, and Charly took her dares seriously. With half the class watching, she’d sunk her teeth into its torso, ripped off the entire left leg, then chewed and swallowed.

When Ms. Dansk realized what’d happened, she freaked out and sent Charly to the nurse, who determined Charly was physically fine (psychology report pending) and sent her along to Principal Blackburn. The whole thing resulted in a two-day in-school suspension for Charly and an hour-long assembly about lab safety for the entire school. Oddly enough, people were so impressed by the whole repulsive stunt, they weren’t even mad about having to sit through the assembly.

Charly missed it. Dentist appointment.

I wasn’t ready for another incident. I’d just decided I was going to hit the next person to ask me what frog tasted like.

The bell rang and Savannah met me at the doorway with an arched eyebrow. She knew better than to ask, but I answered anyway. “I have no idea. Let’s go eat.”

“Hey, Amelia,” someone yelled from behind as we pushed through bodies packing the hall. “Why’s Charly in the office?”

“Don’t know,” I called without turning around.

Dean met us at the top of the stairwell, looking like someone stole his puppy. “Is she getting busted for the toaster oven thing?”

“What toaster oven thing?”

He glanced around for teachers. “You know . . . the toaster oven in the staff room . . . ” He fiddled with the button on his shirt pocket and frowned, clearly trying to decide whether telling me was ratting her out or not.

Dean is one of a hundred guys at Primrose High who would follow Charly to the ends of the earth if he thought there was a chance she might accidentally touch his arm or something. The only difference between Dean and the others is that Charly actually likes him. It’s the platonic sort of like she reserves for the cute, clean-cut boys, but it’s enough for me to make a point of putting up with him.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about and I don’t care. Are you coming to lunch?”

He hesitated.

“Come on, baby face. She’ll probably show up,” I said.

That did it.

The three of us sat at our usual table by the window with the scenic view of PHS’s asphalt parking lot. Charly didn’t show, but a handful of her minions did: Harrison, Dean’s slightly less intelligent wingman, Asha and Liam from drama club, and some tall guy with a dimpled chin whose name I can never remember.

“So what’s the plan for homecoming?” Savannah asked between carrot sticks. For reasons unknown she’d bought a homecoming dress one size too small and stopped eating normal food. I’d already warned her the beta-carotene overload was going to turn her skin orange, but she didn’t seem to care. Apparently super-skinny and orange was preferable to regular-skinny and human-colored.

“No plan for homecoming. I’m going to Atlanta with my dad,” I said, eyeing the door. No Will yet, but it was Wednesday. He had debate team meetings on Wednesdays. Or he used to. Now Wednesdays were probably reserved for making out with Luciana in his car.

“We talking about homecoming?” Sebastian asked, putting his tray down next to Savannah. “Hey, sugar.” He put his chin on top of her head and gave her a quick squeeze that looked disturbingly like a headlock.

“Hey, baby.”

Sugar, baby, honey, cookie, sweetie pie. Good thing I was friends with them before they started going out. Otherwise I’d have to hate them for being so annoying.

“No, Savannah was talking about homecoming. I was talking about going to Atlanta.”

“Enough of the too-cool-for-homecoming act,” Savannah said. “You’re not. And it’s our senior year, so you have to come.”

“Wrong. I don’t. I’ve been the last three years. I already know exactly what happens. You have to go to collect your little princess tiara, but I am free to do whatever I want.”

“So, why is your dad going to Atlanta?” Dean asked.

“He’s giving some presentation at a conference.”

Dean nodded and chewed slowly. “So, uh, your whole family’s going?”

Poor Dean. It would be better if Charly was going to Atlanta so she wouldn’t have to reject him outright again.

“No. Just me and my dad.”

He took another bite of his sandwich and chewed with renewed enthusiasm. I was about to tell him to be careful not to bite his cheek or choke, when Savannah leaned over her tray and whispered, “You know that if you don’t go to homecoming, he wins.”

I glared into her big, concerned eyes. Could she not see the entire table full of people listening? “No. I really want to go to Atlanta. At the Coke museum they let you sample different Coke formulas from all over the world. Think of the buzz. A whole world of sugar and caffeine.”

She sat up straight again. Then, rather than going along with my lame change-of-subject like any decent best friend would, she elbowed her puppet.

“Oh, yeah,” Sebastian said, “I’ve got this friend I’m going to set you up with.”

As if his brain produced its own thoughts in Savannah’s presence. “I don’t want to be set up with anyone.”

“But you don’t even know this guy,” he argued. “He’s cool.”

I knew every man, woman, child, and dog in Tremonton. Very few of them could be classified as cool. “Where’s he from?”

“Tallahassee. I roomed with him at soccer camp. And he’d just come from Bible camp too, so he probably wouldn’t be too freaked out about your dad being a pastor.”

I cringed. “If I was going to homecoming, a Tallahassee import would definitely have potential. But I’m not. Really. I’m going to Atlanta.”

I hope. Dad had been noncommittal last time I brought it up, but he was more distracted than against it. He definitely didn’t say “no.”

So I’d started working on Grandma instead. I told her I wanted to research the Campus Missionary program for next year when I was at college, and what better place to start than the Southern Methodist Pastor’s Conference? Plus I’d have plenty of downtime to work on my SAT prep book and do my homework. She’d been skeptical. She was still skeptical, but I had time to win her over, and as soon as she was on board, Dad would cave.

Atlanta was the perfect excuse to get out of town. I could spend the entire time studying by the pool and watching pay-per-view movies in the hotel room, both of which would be ten times more enjoyable than going to homecoming, or sitting at home thinking about previous homecomings.

Last year I went with Will. And the year before.

A group of skinny little freshman boys in baggy jeans with tough-guy chains shuffled up to the table.

“Hey, has your sister ever eaten roadkill?” the closest one asked.

I stared into the kid’s eyes, trying not to be distracted by the whole face full of zits needing to be squeezed. Did he not realize I was a senior?

“Do you, um, think she’d eat roadkill if I dared her?” he continued. His friends had started to inch backward.

“Please go away.” I turned back to my turkey sandwich.

“Denied,” one of the friends muttered as they wandered off.

Savannah pushed her plate of carrots aside and put a sympathetic hand on my arm. “Are you sure about homecoming?”

I closed my eyes, and willed myself to not flinch. She meant well. And she was right, if he showed up at homecoming with Luciana and I stayed away, I’d lose. People would assume I was sitting in front of a TV with a bag of powdered-sugar mini-donuts.

But did it matter? They all assumed that he dumped me last April anyway.

“I’m sure,” I said, and took a bite out of my apple.

Savannah didn’t know why we’d broken up, and I couldn’t explain it to her. I couldn’t even explain it to Charly. And I was guessing the gorgeous Brazilian rebound didn’t know either.

Will knew. And I knew.

“SHAZAM!” Charly’s tray clattered as it hit the table across from me, fruit punch sloshing over the lip of her cup. She didn’t notice. “I just survived a trip to Blackburn’s cave.”

I dropped a napkin on the juice spill. “Dare I ask why?”

“I put my bra on over top of my shirt after PE, and Señora Lopez freaked when she saw me in the hall.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. Probably because she’s mean and uptight.”

“No. Why would you wear your bra over your shirt?”

She frowned. Clearly why had not come up yet. “Because I thought it would be funny. And it was, by the way.”

“I’m sure Blackburn thought it was hilarious.”

She put a fry in her mouth and grinned. “I told him I was protesting sweatshop labor in India and wherever else they make bras, and it was like he’d been hit by a tranquilizer dart. He started talking about protesting the Vietnam War when he was young and some other crap I wasn’t really listening to.”

Dean and Harrison laughed. The thespians and the kid with no name followed, while Sebastian applauded. At least Savannah rolled her eyes.

“That’s great,” I said. “I’m sure all the little children hunched over sewing machines would be thrilled to know they’ve helped you out.”

“And I will be forever grateful to them for saving me from an in-school suspension. He didn’t even threaten to call home.” She pulled the pieces of her grilled cheese apart and held one in front of my face. The mass of congealed orange cheese product was sweating. “Think this is organic?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Seriously? You think?” She wrinkled her nose.

“Of course not. Unless space-age polymers are now falling under the organic label.”

She closed the bread around the greasy cheese and took a bite.

“Since when do you care about eating organic?” Savannah asked suspiciously. She thinks she has dibs on living green since her stepdad bought her a hybrid. She’s gone as far as to lecture strangers at the mall for tossing empty soda cans in the garbage.

“Since today,” Charly answered. “Now that I’m a protestor of sweatshop labor in . . . Amelia, where are the sweatshops?”

“China, Malaysia, Guatemala, the Philippines, Thailand . . . should I keep going?”

“No, that’s good.”

“Wait a second,” Savannah jumped in, jabbing a finger dangerously close to my face. “You can’t go to Atlanta. You guys have a big game! Ha!”

I knew it was only a matter of time until that hit her. “I’ll have to miss it.” The words felt wrong even as I said them. I’d never missed a field hockey game. Not even when I’d had mono.

“What? The team captain can’t just skip out on the biggest game of the season.”

“We’ll beat Baldwin whether I’m here or not.”

That wasn’t true. I took another bite of my apple and stared at the core to avoid eye contact. Baldwin beat us last year, and was rumored to be even stronger this year. Something about a new German coach and brutal three-hour practices.

“What did Coach Hershey say?” Charly asked.

I glared at her. Whose side was she on? “I haven’t told her yet. Today. At practice.”

Coach Hershey is like a stick of dynamite: small, tightly packed, and deadly. I was still trying to come up with the right way of phrasing it so she wouldn’t explode in my face.

“Homecoming is about football,” I said. “Nobody cares about girls’ field hockey.”

“Apparently not,” Savannah muttered, and folded her arms.

“Hey, speaking of Baldwin,” Charly said, “can you give me a lift out there tomorrow night?”

“Why, so you can spend the evening stealing stop signs?”

Charly had come away from her summer job mowing greens at Baldwin Country Club with a paycheck, a tan, and a pack of total morons she now hung out with. Most of them were dropouts or just going nowhere. Unless there was a possibility of keg stands—then they were definitely going there.

“We didn’t steal them. We borrowed them and then we put them back. Mostly.”

“I won’t even be home from practice until after five and then I’ve got homework. Plus, I need to practice for my choir audition.”

She closed her eyes and shuddered. “You should not be auditioning for choir.”

“I’m doing choir.”

“But you have a terrible voice. No offense.”

Sebastian and No-Name stifled laughs. Savannah coughed.

“Thanks a lot, guys,” I muttered, then turned back to Charly. “Offense taken, and I know I don’t have the best voice, but choir will make me look well rounded.”

“But you’re not.”

“Conversation over.”

“Does that mean you’re not driving me to Baldwin?”

“You need to get your driver’s license.”

That shut her up. She’d already failed the road test twice.

“You don’t want to go out to Baldwin tonight,” Dean jumped in. “They’re the enemy. Come with us to DQ after football.”

If Charly answered, I didn’t catch it. I was too busy watching Will.

He was coming through the doorway to the cafeteria, Luciana in tow, her pearly pink nails and brown skinny fingers curled around his bicep. He was talking, and she was laughing. No, her whole body was laughing—her head thrown back and her other hand touching her throat.

Please. Will is a lot of things, but he’s not that funny.

Adrenaline screamed through my veins, but I didn’t move. I gave myself three seconds. Three seconds to see how happy he looked, still tall and skinny, those same brown eyes and curly brown hair. Three miserable seconds, then I looked down.

Thankfully, Savannah was too busy canoodling with Sebastian to notice. Her sympathy is my kryptonite.

Charly pushed her pudding cup toward me. “Butterscotch. You can have it.”

She gave me a crooked half smile, crooked because when we were ten she’d been standing on the wrong side of my swing during a softball game.

Butterscotch is her favorite.

“Thanks.”

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 17, 2012

    The relationship of two sisters is described by Jessica Martinez

    The relationship of two sisters is described by Jessica Martinez in The Space Between Us.  Responsible and goal-driven Amelia works tirelessly to achieve her dream of attending Columbia University in New York.  Charly, her younger sister, is wild and crazy, always getting in and out of trouble.  Amelia looks out for Charly and tries to prevent her from pulling any stunts that are too out of control.  One day Charly does not come home from a night of partying.  Amelia fears the worst and is extremely angry when Charly finally returns home.  For the next several weeks, Charly is a recluse and seems ill.  Finally, Charly admits to Amelia that she is pregnant and Amelia’s world changes.  They are sent to live in Canada until the due date and Amelia is furious. 
    The Space Between Us could be enjoyed by most teen girls.  Charly and Amelia are relatable teen girls who are frustrated by problems that most girls have.  More serious issues enter the book as it progresses: pregnancy and date rape.
    Martinez did a great job writing a book about sensitive issues.  The characters all seemed realistic and were memorable.  I give this novel four out of five stars.


    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2013

    Great Understanding of Sibling Relationships

    I first read the blurb of this book, and said it completely described my sister and I. I bought this book and loved how inspirational it was. The fights sisters have and the words of hate expressed, because at the end of the day those words are meaningless. The love that is showed through the battles of having to change for someone who has been there for you your whole life. All while working on a relationship with someone who may be just as broken as you are. It is a fabulous book I would highly recommend!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2013

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