Jo Knowles’ new novel was apparently inspired by a real-life incident in which the author and her family were given the finger by another driver, even though he was in the wrong. This episode prompted her to think about the aggression, power and even hatred implied by this small gesture.
Read Between the Lines is a series of linked short stories set over the course of a single day. Each chapter focuses on the private life of a student—from cheerleaders and bullies to those they overlook or prey upon—and includes “the finger” in some way. Each can be read and appreciated in isolation, but readers will enjoy piecing together the stories and the accompanying relationships.
The novel’s most profound revelations belong to the final chapter, when one of their teachers shares her own secret stories: “Just like there is more to her than what they see, there is more inside each one of them.” It’s a message that may inspire readers to consider the lives of strangers before rushing to pass judgment—or flipping the bird.