What if you were given the opportunity to consciously escape into your dreams? Would you do it? Katie Li’s Somewhere in Between blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, both within the world she builds and within the characters themselves.
Magnolia and Rom have very little in common aside from their walk home after school. Magnolia is an edgy punk girl while Rom is a geeky introverted guy; their social circles simply don’t intersect in the unforgiving high school social structure. These two unlikely friends have a secret that bonds them: they’ve both traveled to the “in-between place,” a portal they find one day while walking home from school. While the details of the location change each time they visit, the “in-between place” is filled with dystopian desolation, from an ominous tunnel to abandoned structures. Magnolia and Rom are the only two living creatures in sight, and with societal expectations dissolved, they’re able to open up to one another about their dreams and fears, nurturing their friendship despite their real world obstacles.
Li plays around with the concept of reality in several ways. Is what you’re seeing in the portal really there? Do the discussions held there mean anything? Is this portal a time out from life or just another piece of it? Similar in tone to one of my all-time favorite movies, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this story requires the audience to view the bizarre as a conduit for exploring the characters and their issues.
The story is a fascinating social study on how individuals form bonds with one another and whether or not shared experiences can sustain friendships long-term. The characters are in a transitional, identity-seeking stage of their lives, making it best suited for high school- or college-aged readers. It’s a quick read as well, so it’s easy to throw the book into a bag and take it with you anywhere. One part abstract and two parts character drama, Somewhere in Between is a promising start for first-time author Katie Li.
Header image via Nik Janssen. Book photo via Jessica Thelander. Author image via Katie Li.