I read The Space Between by Meg Grehan during the Mental Health Book Bingo – I can’t believe it took me this long to review it! It is published by Little Island Books, which is an Irish publisher.
It’s New Year’s Eve, and Beth plans to spend a whole year alone, in her snug, safe house. But she has reckoned without floppy-eared, tail-wagging Mouse, who comes nosing to her window. Followed shortly by his owner, Alice. As Beth’s year of solitude rolls out, Alice gently steals her way first into Beth’s house and later into her heart. And by the time New Year’s Eve comes round again – who knows?
A tender and delicate love story in verse, The Space Between is a tale of how warmth, support and friendship can overcome mental anguish.
This is, above all, a love story. Whilst reading this for the Mental Health Book Bingo, it was a nice breath of fresh air from some of the heavy books that I had been reading. While there wasn’t a lot of dialogue in this YA book, I could really sense the way that Beth and Alice connected with each other on multiple levels – they were definitely a ship that I could get behind, and an adorable one at that!
Also, the mental health representation was A++. Beth has anxiety and agoraphobia, so the entirety of the book is set in her house. It was really interesting to see how her feelings towards her house changed throughout the book – it changes from being a trapping environment to something more homely and comforting. And this is because of the influence that Alice and Mouse are having on her life.
“What do you do when your brain is refusing to let you step outside
while screaming that you aren’t safe
that you need to run
you need to go?”
As you can tell from the quote, this is a verse novel. I’ve only read a couple of verse novels (the only one that springs to mind is Sea Foam and Silence) so I still wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it. I have to say though, the verse aspect of the book was just lovely. The short, tight lines really helped to convey Beth’s anxiety and agoraphobia, and it made the book a really quick read as well.
Finally, on a personal note, I want to say how much I appreciated the message not only that love doesn’t fix everything, but also how much pets can help with mental health. I’ve talked about this before, but it really brought home to me how much a dog or a cat can just lift your mood, when nothing else really can. I need my own Mouse in my life! (Though I am going to visit my parents and more importantly MY DOG very soon!)
Content warnings: some semi-graphic depiction of anxiety and agoraphobia, mentions of blood (menstruation) and sexual content.