The Beautiful Between
By: Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Pub date: May 11th, 2010
If high school were a fairy-tale kingdom, Connelly Sternin would be Rapunzel, locked not in a tower by a wicked witch but in a high-rise apartment building by the SATs and college applications—and by the secrets she keeps. Connelly's few friends think that her parents are divorced—but they're not. Connelly's father died when she was two, and she doesn't know how.
If Connelly is the Rapunzel of her school, Jeremy Cole is the crown prince, son of a great and rich New York City family. So when he sits down next to her at lunch one day, Connelly couldn't be more surprised. But Jeremy has a tragic secret of his own, and Connelly is the only one he can turn to for help. Together they form a council of two, helping each other with their homework and sharing secrets. As the pair's friendship grows, Connelly learns that it's the truth, not the secrets, that one must guard and protect. And that between friends, the truth, however harsh, is also beautiful.
If you thought of high school as a kingdom—and I don’t mean the regular kind of kingdom we have today, like England or Norway, I mean those small ones in fairy tales that probably weren’t kingdoms at all so much as they were nobledoms where the nobles considered themselves kings and granted themselves the right of prima nochte, that kind of thing—if you thought of my high school like one of those, then Jeremy Cole would be the crown prince. The crown prince who could choose from all the women in his father’s domain—and not only choose them but also have them parade in front of him at, say, a dance, trying to catch his eye, hoping to be chosen.
I don’t know where I’d fall in the fairy- tale- kingdom hierarchy. I’m hardly Cinderella. I’m not beautiful and I’m not poor, and we have a cleaning lady who comes once a week, so I’m not stuck with the housework. Not Snow White either—the dwarfs always struck me as stranger than they were endearing, and wild animals don’t look so much cute and cuddly to me as rabid and flea- ridden. Sleeping Beauty—not a chance. I’d be happy if I could just sleep through the night, let alone one hundred years. But I guess I could be Rapunzel; I do have long hair and I’m locked not so much in a tower by a wicked queen as in an Upper East Side apartment building by the SATs and college applications. Which are wicked enough for a hundred wicked queens and then some. Just my luck: Rapunzel, who wasn’t a princess at all; Rapunzel, who—in at least some of the versions of the story—didn’t have a happy ending.
It’s pretty easy, sitting in the cafeteria, to imagine I’m in a fairytale kingdom, to transform the girls one by one from trendy students into stately- attired ladies. Just take the prettiest girl in the room, the most popular, whose clothes hang on her so lightly that you know she could pull off a gown as easily as she can those tight jeans with that black tank top. Give the boys swords hanging from their belts, and turn their baseball caps into crowns. I guess high school cafeterias are kind of like a royal court: your chance to show off the latest fashions, to make an entrance, and, if you’re lucky, to be invited to have an audience before the royals—you know, sitting at the cool table...
I like the sound of this one a lot actually. The first chapter is so good. You can read the rest of it here, as well as chapters two and three as well. Also, feel free to visit Alyssa's website.