The Line by Teri Hall

The Line by Teri Hall; read in January, 2010. ARC provided by Penguin at ALA Midwinter, 2010.

In The Line, Teri Hall has built a good framework for an interesting dystopian setting, but left me wanting more.  Not in a post-Catching Fire-I-am-dying-to-read-the-next-one way, but in a huh-that-was-really-facinating-but-it-felt-a-little-bare-bones, as if details were held back just to have more to flesh out in the sequel.

The line is the border around a future U.S.A. (or so I have assumed), and no one can cross the line and expect to return.  Throughout the book, the reader learns some of the history that caused the line to be built.  Rachel lives in a small house with her mother, on the property of her mother’s employer – an older, wealthy single woman known as Ms. Moore.  Rachel knows a little about why the line is there, and that her dad’s death is connected to that reason.  The line runs through Ms. Moore’s property.

Ms. Moore grows orchids in a greenhouse near the line, and Rachel gets involved in helping her.  Her frequent proximity to the line ripens the forbidden fruit aspect of it, and soon Rachel begins speaking to a mysterious boy on the other side of the line.  Just speaking to the boy puts Rachel in jeopardy, and then he asks for her help.  Can she risk it?

The Line is a fast read.  I had a hard time figuring out Rachel’s age.  At times, she felt nine or ten, and others she seemed fifteen.  I imagine part of her immaturity has to do with how she was raised in this society.  I wonder if this would confuse younger readers or help Rachel feel relatable.

I think this is a great addition to a middle school library, and a high school if you have reluctant readers who want shorter faster reads.  The ending will leave readers ready for the sequel.

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Filed under review, young adult lit

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