A World Between Us is an epic romance and historical adventure set during the Spanish Civil War, a period of history I am ashamed to say I knew almost nothing about. It was something I certainly hadn’t come across before in young adult fiction. I am all for fiction that provide us with an educational experience as well as tell us a compelling story. I think it’s essential in books if ‘the whole world’s inside them’ (Cornelia Funke, Inkheart); not talking about history does not mean that it didn’t happen.
A World Between Us takes place between October 1936 and April 1939. Felicity, or Felix, as she likes to be known, is training as a nurse, unaware of what impact Fascism will have upon the world, until she meets a young rebel called Nat in the East End of London. Felix is captivated by Nat’s relentless passion for justice. During a trip to France with her brother Neville and admirer George, in a fit of unusual spontaneity, she follows Nat to Spain, where she begins her new life surrounded by chaos and war.
Felix is a complicated character. I was frequently frustrated by her inability to make decisions – her inability to choose between the familiar long-time family friend and the mysterious boy who changed her world view. Even at the end (don’t worry, I won’t ruin it for you!), I’m not entirely sure she fully knows what she wants. Yet I couldn’t help but find her to be a convictive character. Felix did something that most of us wouldn’t have done – leave her relatively safe, sheltered existence to work in a battlefield, constantly at risk and saving lives. But she’s often naive and lacks curiosity, struggling to see the bigger picture, even though her defiance against the Fascists and determination to save complete strangers is unwaning. Throughout the novel, we feel Felix’s inner turmoil as she switches between both stances, and it certainly is an eventful journey.
A World Between Us is full of passion and fight – shattering, heartbreaking, and immensely enjoyable. A compelling love story, but one that never takes priority over showing the realities of civil war – the tragic violence and what it’s like living in the unknown, showing how life can change in an instant. It’s a wonderful addition to the historical fiction genre, a brave tale of triumph over adversity, but never making it look easy, that I hope more writers will tackle.
You can read the first chapter here.
Thank you Hot Key Books for providing this book for review!