Between Me and You by Allison Winn Scotch
Published by Lake Union Publishing, January 9th 2018
Genre: Adult, Romance, Fiction
Between you and me, Between Me and You leaves something to be desired.
You see what I did there? I know it’s not funny BUT I CAN’T HELP IT.
From New York Times bestselling author Allison Winn Scotch comes an honest, touching, and funny exploration of falling in and out of love, told from two perspectives—one rewinding history, one moving it forward—and each with bias and regret.
When their paths first cross, Ben Livingston is a fledgling scriptwriter on the brink of success; Tatum Connelly is a struggling actress tending bar in a New York City dive. They fall in love, they marry, they become parents, and they think only of the future. But as the years go by, Tatum’s stardom rises while Ben’s fades. In a marriage that bears the fallout of ambition and fame, Ben and Tatum are at a crossroads. Now all they can do is think back…
A life of passion, joy, tragedy, and loss—once shared—becomes one as shifting and unpredictable as a memory. As the pieces of their past come together, as they explore the ways love can bend and break, Ben and Tatum come to see how it all went wrong—and wonder what they can do now to make it all right.
I want to start with the writing because this is undoubtedly my favorite thing about this book.
Between Me and You has alternating timelines but with a very interesting take: our two narrators are telling the story in different directions. We have Ben, husband, telling the story from 2016 backward to 1999. And Tatum, wife, telling the story forward from 1999 to 2016. This is what I was most intrigued by even before reading the novel, and it’s what (mostly) kept my interest throughout. I think it could have been a complete disaster, but it is pulled off well and easy to keep track of.
My one problem with the writing is that both stories are told in first person, present tense narration, and they were not different enough. At first, for instance, we read a chapter from a 40 year-old man, immediately followed by a 23 year-old woman, and there’s no notable narration difference. This is just not what I expect going into a double narrative like that, I really need unique voices.
For me there are also some definite pacing issues. It starts off interesting enough, but toward the middle it becomes pretty slow and just kind of blah? This had to do a ton with the characters.
Oh. Boy. I wish I could share my notes with you guys. OH WAIT I CAN!
Okay whenever I start a new book I open up a laptop post it and write my notes so I don’t forget as I go. These are my notes for Between Me and You:
So. I mean. It’s not great. There are a lot more, but these are the ones I felt I would share. So characters, here we go.
Tatum. Tatum actually does not bother me. She definitely has some selfish attributes, she puts work before her marriage and sometimes before their child. These things aren’t cute. But she does genuinely love Ben and Joey and she tries so hard. So much of the time she takes the brunt of their issues, even though from my perspective, Ben is a giant douche canoe.
Ben. Well, you can tell from my notes that I’m not a fan. I think a big part of it is that Ben reminds me very much of a very real, very particular type of person. A toxic man baby. One who can’t handle his wife’s success, resents her for it, doesn’t particularly love being a husband or father but blames his wife for not being a better wife and mother. He’s the very stereotypical, mentally vacant husband. Obsessed with himself and how to further his career and jealous of his own wife.
Now, I don’t need to like characters to like a book. HOWEVER. When the book is possibly about reconciliation between our two narrators and I’m yelling, “DON’T GO BACK TO HIM, TATUM. YOU CAN DO BETTER, GIRL.” I am obviously not getting the full beauty of their love/loss of love/possible lean toward getting their love back.
A HUGE theme in the book is grief. Ben loses several people close to him, but we cannot go one. chapter. without hearing about what his dad would be doing. Keep in mind that these chapters are almost all entirely spaced a year apart. So we’re talking over a decade where Ben cannot stop. Of course I don’t expect grief to disappear overnight. What I do expect is that you move on and not let it affect every other relationship in your life.
All of these things made it very difficult for me to enjoy the book, because the entire book is about these two people and their marriage. Their marriage, for me, is not believable, and because of that, I can’t root for them.
I so wanted to love Between Me and You. I wanted to root for Ben and Tatum, I wanted to be excited for them. Unfortunately I was mostly bored or actively irritated, and the most emotional I ever was in the story was about an incident involving their dog.