Cover image for
The sweet in-between : a novel
Reynolds, Sheri.

Personal Author:
First edition.
Physical Description:
pages cm
Pub Date:
Shaye Areheart Books, 2008.


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Central - Houston Public Library Adult Fiction Book REYNO
Central - Houston Public Library Adult Fiction Book REYNO
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Looscan - Houston Public Library Adult Fiction Book REYNO
Freed-Montrose -- Houston Public Library Adult Fiction Book REYNO
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"[With The Sweet In-Between ,] bestseller Reynolds delivers again . . . Simple prose rich with subtext, convincing dialogue, and a fascinating protagonist combine to produce a heartstring-plucker that's explicit, tender, sad, and hopeful."
-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Kendra, or "Kenny," has grown up in a family that's not really hers. Her momma died of cancer when Kenny was very young, and "Aunt" Glo is, in fact, her daddy's girlfriend, who took her in when her father was sent to jail for drug trafficking.

Nearing eighteen years old and facing confusion over her sexuality, Kenny binds her chest with ACE bandages and keeps her hair cropped short like a boy's. Her gender ambiguity makes her an outcast at school and, even at times, at home, where her adopted family isn't really sure what to make of her.

When a senseless murder occurs in their run-down coastal town--a college student mistakenly entering the wrong home is killed--Kenny becomes obsessed with thoughts of the dead girl and with her own fears that she will be alone in the world when she turns eighteen. She makes it her mission to become indispensable to Aunt Glo in the hopes that she can win the older woman's love, despite their not being bound by blood.

A lyrical tale of a family of misfits in a town that's seen its best days come and go, The Sweet In-Between is also a poignant story of an unforgettable character's coming-of-age.

Author Notes

SHERI REYNOLDS is a professor of writing and literature at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. She is the author of five novels, including the Oprah Book Club selection The Rapture of Canaan , which was a #1 New York Times bestseller. She lives in Cape Charles, Virginia.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bestseller Reynolds (The Rapture of Canaan) delivers again with this story of an embattled teenage girl growing up in a Virginia tidewater town. Kendra "Kenny" Lugo has it tough: her mother is dead, her father is in jail, and she is what others might call gender-confused ("the year before I cut off all my hair and started binding myself up"). Living with her father's girlfriend, Aunt Glo, Kenny is approaching 18 and facing the possibility of being kicked out with a sense of impending doom. When their neighbor, habitually drunk Jarvis Stanley, accidentally kills a college girl, Kenny becomes fixated on the tragedy. Meanwhile, Aunt Glo struggles with painkiller addiction while raising her own kids, 12-year-old Quincy and teenaged Tim-Tim, and her runaway daughter's seven-year-old, Daphne. Kenny makes a fascinating, cagey narrator, revealing an unexpectedly dangerous family dynamic with a matter-of-factness that belies her fear and anger, and Reynolds weds expository memories with Kenny's day-to-day so seamlessly, it looks easy. Simple prose rich with subtext, convincing dialogue and a fascinating protagonist combine to produce a heartstring-plucker that's explicit, tender, sad and hopeful. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Her mother's dead and her father's in prison, but 17-year-old Kendra Kenny Lugo has found a family that she's sorely afraid of losing. She lives near the banks of Chesapeake Bay in Virginia with Aunt Glo, her father's girlfriend, and Glo's sons and granddaughter, but she fears being tossed out when she turns 18. When a young woman is shot and killed in the adjoining house, Kenny's obsession over the death adds to her fear and to her self-image as a gender-confused sicko who hates her body, binds her breasts, dresses like a boy, feels attracted to Glo's son's fiancée, and is puzzled about a friend's talk of her lifestyle. The tragic death reverberates throughout Kenny's first-person coming-of-age story in which redemption is gained through love despite loss, and the true meaning of family is shown. Fishing trips bracket the novel, the first as a distraction from tragedy, the last nearly perfect despite not catching a thing. Reynolds once again shows her mastery of portraying young people with problems in this often moving, ultimately uplifting story.--Leber, Michele Copyright 2008 Booklist

Library Journal Review

The newest title from Oprah Book Club author Reynolds (The Rapture of Canaan) is narrated by a troubled 17-year-old negotiating life at the bottom of the social ladder in a nondescript Southern beach town. Kendra "Kenny" Lugo longs for love and security, but she has little of either. Her odd appearance makes her an outcast at school, where her peers can't guess that her deliberately boyish look is designed to fend off her stepbrother's sexual abuse. Additional stresses include dealing with her father's drug-related incarceration and her fear that her kind if clueless guardian will kick her out when she turns 18. Yet Kenny has spunk, finding solace in connecting with the local sand, water, and sea life and the strength to cope and even to hope in the surprising aftermath of a shooting tragedy. Reynolds's finely realized characters bring to life the struggles of day-to-day existence in a lower-middle-class community, and powerful evocations of the natural world provide comforting balance to the often unstable human elements in this short but powerful novel. Recommended for most fiction collections.--Starr E. Smith, Fairfax P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Part One We've come out here to fish, me and Quincy and Daphne and Aunt Glo. Daphne's got her lunch box filled with rotten chicken necks, the rottener the better for the crabs. So I move upwind, past the stench. I've got my daddy's old rod and reel, the red one with the soft cork handle. It's got dents from where his fingers used to go. It's September now, and we've come out here to fish. But Quincy brought his skateboard, and he's riding it all the way to the end of the pier, pissing off the heron who was catching a nap. Quincy's wheels thrum-drum through the cracks between boards, and that heron stretches out and takes off. If I could fly like that, I wouldn't even mind looking so prehistoric. The heron settles on a channel marker out there in the bay and pulls his head into his shoulders like somebody cold. Aunt Glo helps Daphne tie her chicken necks with string and dangle them down into the water. Daphne sniffs her fingers and says, "Ugh," but she must like the smell, the way she sniffs them over and over. "Ugh," she says and scrunches up her nose. I've got my own cooler, and stashed inside it there's a can of soda, a pack of saltines, a plastic bag with my still-frozen squid, and an army knife sharp enough to cut it. So I dig out a piece of squid and saw it right there, add my slashes to the thousand already carved into this wood. I choose a good-size hunk, the head, and hook it to my line. I hook it three times, through the flesh and through the eye, black juice squirting out at me, and when I cast, my line zings high and plops hard in the bay. Now it's the wait, the knock-knock of the line and deciding whether it's a crab or something bigger, the reeling in sometimes, the breeze on my face, my face in the sun. It's September, but the sun's still hot, and when I close my eyes, I can pretend I'm on a boat sailing off to somewhere else. On that boat, heading north with my face in the wind, I can forget the sounds I heard last night: the banging around, the giggles and high-pitched "shits!" I thought at first it was just a dream and those girls were at my door and making fun of me. It was late in the night, and when I woke up, I figured somebody was pulling a prank on old Jarvis Stanley right next door. But that was yesterday. With the water slapping soft against the wood, I pretend I'm a tugboat captain, pulling a barge loaded with gold all the way up to Annapolis, and I wonder if barges ever carry anything besides gravel or coal, if barges go to Annapolis at all. Annapolis is the farthest I've ever been, but someday I'll go farther. I'll go someplace where crazy things don't happen, where girls don't die like that girl died last night, right there in Jarvis Stanley's living room. Today I plan to catch a flounder. Maybe two. This morning when the school bus came, we were all in our pajamas. Aunt Glo said, "Well, I swannee," and waved the driver on. Weren't none of us ready, not even me, and I've always got my book bag packed and sitting by the door. Aunt Glo made us jelly toast and sat there looking at the jelly knife for the longest time and shaking her head, and I couldn't stop thinking how jelly tastes sweet but blood does not. When I saw that dead girl, I bit my lip and didn't even know it until I swallowed. My blood went down, her blood ran out, in the grooves of the floorboards behind Jarvis Stanley's couch where she fell. We didn't get much sleep. It was four in the morning, and the banging came first, then the giggling, then the sound I found out later was a window forced up. Then there was the hot sound, a shotgun cracking. And after that, the screaming, or maybe the screaming started Excerpted from The Sweet In-Between: A Novel by Sheri Reynolds All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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