Neither Here Nor There

The Inn Between, by Marina Cohen, (Roaring Book Press, Macmillan), 208 pages, release date 22 March, 2016, recommended by the publisher for ages 8 to 12

The Inn Between is an unsettling tale. Quinn’s life is full of disappearances. Her little sister Emma disappeared while walking home from school. Her best friend Kara might as well be disappearing: she’s moving from Colorado to California. Quinn travels with Kara’s family when they drive to California, squeezing in a few more days with her friend. Then after they check into a rather unsettling inn, the Inn Between (their motto: “We’ve been expecting you”) first Kara’s parents, then her brother Josh disappear as well.

The Inn Between is a sort of “Hotel California” story. The girls find themselves unable to escape the Inn Between, even as the disappearances continue. The hotel’s pool may be harboring a monster (“it’s deeper than you’d think”), visitors all have a strange lightlessness to their eyes, and those who take the inn’s elevator up never appear again. To add to all this, Quinn is convinced she’s seen Emma in one of the inn’s windows.

Quinn and Kara, tied together by their friendship bracelets, swear they’ll stay with each other forever, but doing that turns out to be difficult—and not because Kara’s family is headed to California. This is a dark novel, but a dark novel with light, the sort of story that will appeal to younger readers beginning to wrestle with difficult questions of life and death, love and forgiveness. Once they begin reading, like Kara they’ll want to stay firmly tied to the story’s courageous center, Quinn.

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