Saturday, March 21, 2020

"The Between"

David Hofmeyr was born in South Africa and lives in London and Paris. In 2013 he graduated from Bath Spa University with an MA in Writing for Young People. The Between is Hofmeyr's second novel. His first book, Stone Rider, was published in 2015 and was shortlisted for the prestigious Branford Boase award for first-time novelists. He divides his time between writing and working as a strategist for Ogilvy & Mather.

Hofmeyr applied the Page 69 Test to The Between and reported the following:
Is page 69 representative of the book?

Yes, I think so.

It begins with the lead character, Ana, in a world that looks and feels like her own but is not. We’ve plunged into a mirror world, a parallel universe. Everything is familiar but different, charged with a primeval energy. Ana is afraid. And yet Malik, the mysterious boy pacing her room, is full of ease and swagger. And danger:
“Where are you from?” I demand, trying to look unimpressed, but my stomach is in knots and I feel a cold sweat coming on.

“Out there,” he says, waving a hand at the window, sauntering through the room, looking at my bookcase, tilting his head to examine the spines.

“Out there ... where?”

“Many places.”

He moves on, scanning my shelves. He lifts a tome. Philip Pullman. His Dark Materials. He knocks it back between the others with a smile. He’s calm, in control and cool, but not detached. Beneath it all, I sense a hum of raw energy. Here is someone who isn’t afraid. Who doesn’t know the meaning of fear.
I enjoyed going meta in this scene. This is a story about a multiverse. So, I like the idea of Malik finding His Dark Materials and smiling to himself. Yes, we imagine him thinking. There are worlds out there, beyond the known.

The page concludes with Ana threatening to go to the police and this marks a shift in attitude from Malik. He switches from aloof to forceful. The feeling of the scene tilts. This is not all fun and games. It’s serious.
“Look, I’m gonna call the police. If you don’t—”

“The police?” He laughs. “Gimme a break ... the police don’t matter, Ana. Not now. Not here. They can’t help.”
This quick turn of emotion is a hallmark of the story. The aim is to unsettle the reader. To throw them into limbo, to make them feel the range of emotions they, or anyone else, might feel waking up to a strange reality that is not their own.

The Between is about a girl who feels lost. She navigates her life between divorced parents, trying to find her place in the world. That’s the real story here. It charts the aftermath of divorce. The damage wrought. A loss of identity. The idea of crossing multiple universes is simply a metaphor for this feeling of limbo.

This is a story about friendship and finding courage and identity in a world that can seem utterly beyond our control. It’s about taking back control. It draws on all the sci-fi elements I love in films like Inception and The Matrix. And if you detect any undertones of Steven King in The Between, then we’re definitely on the same page...

Which, in this case, is page 69.
Visit David Hofmeyr's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Between.

Writers Read: David Hofmeyr.

--Marshal Zeringue