A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shows different types of poetry and how poetry can be used to express the sides of personality that people don't see, and to break down the labels teens have to deal with in high school and beyond.
Tell the truth of who you are, even when it's painful. Life isn't easy just because you're pretty. Think about how similar we are rather than how different. Don't assume you know what people are like; take the time to get to know them.
Positive Role Models
As in Bronx Masquerade, here English teacher Mr. Ward supports the students and guides them while also allowing them plenty of room to make mistakes and solve their problems. He steps in when Jenesis reveals she will be homeless soon, once she ages out of the foster care system. He finds her an organization that specializes in transitioning teens into another program. Darrian observes the real needs of the students in his class and tries to help while also being transparent with his own struggles. He befriends his struggling classmates, often serving as a sounding board/shoulder to lean on when they need it.
Violence & Scariness
Discussion of child abuse by a parent and some of the dangers that foster kids are subjected to when they are in the system. Additionally, a young girl yanks on her niece's arm in frustration and anger and slightly injures the child. She apologizes, recognizing that she needs to control herself so she doesn't end up abusing her niece like she was abused.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Typical mild teen flirting. Some discussion of the threat of sexual violence found in the foster care system.
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Mild name-calling, such as "stupid" or "dumb."
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Products & Purchases
Some brand names mentioned for scene setting. New York Times mentioned because the lead character wants to be a reporter.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Discussion of parents having drinking problems and parents shown drinking in excess, with teens forced to care for them. A child is left in the care of relatives because the mother's a drug addict, though she's not shown taking the drugs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that New York Times best-selling author Nikki Grimes' Between the Lines is a companion book to her award-winning Bronx Masquerade about a meaningful high school poetry group. It can be read as a standalone, and parents should be prepared to deal with discussions about the foster care system, child abuse, the prison industrial complex, and childhood disease.
Is It Any Good?
With new students, old favorites, and an epic poetry slam, this powerful companion book doesn't disappoint as it offers another fun and honest look at teens' lives. Like Bronx Masquerade, it masterfully explores the truth of the lives the teens live using their own poetry as supplements to their personal stories revealed throughout the novel. Nothing is as it seems, and that's what makes Between the Lines work -- because everyone can relate to wearing a mask to face the world. Everyone can relate to being afraid to be judged for revealing who they truly are, especially when the truth is embarrassing, scary, sad, or uncomfortable. The book clearly illustrates the need for a safe space for teens to explore and express themselves as they navigate the transition between adolescence and adulthood. It also reiterates the importance of supportive, stable adults in kids' lives.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.