Penguin acquires 'affirming and authentic' depiction of chronic illness

Penguin acquires 'affirming and authentic' depiction of chronic illness

Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Children’s, has acquired The World Between Us by Sarah Ann Juckes, author of YA novel Outside (Penguin, 2019).

Carmen McCullough, editorial director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Sallyanne Sweeney at MMB Creative. Translation rights have already been pre-empted in Italian (Rizzoli), German (CBJ Random House) and French (Pocket Jeunesse). 

The World Between Us is inspired by the author's work with Creative Future, an arts organisation supporting underrepresented UK talent, including those with issues around mental health, disability, identity, or other social circumstances, as well as by her long-term partner’s experience of living with chronic illness. It is billed as "an affirming and authentic depiction of chronic illness which explores how modern technology, such as live streaming, has changed the lives of those who live with a chronic illness". 

The synopsis reads: "Alice may be bed-bound, but every day Stream Cast brings the world to her. From the streets of Tokyo to a masterclass in video games, she experiences other people's wild and exciting lives, all without ever leaving her room. But everything changes when Alice is introduced to a new streamer. Rowan encourages Alice to stop watching, and start taking control. But Rowan has a secret he's trying to hide from Alice—and from himself."

McCullough said: "With shades of Five Feet Apart and All the Bright Places, Sarah has created a story that is powerful, revelatory and ultimately life-affirming. I learnt so much from Alice and Rowan and their wild beautiful love story. We can’t wait to share this important and uplifting book with the world."

Juckes commented: "This is a real passion project for me, and I’m thrilled to be working with such a brilliantly supportive team at Penguin once again. It’s incredibly important for young people to see themselves represented in books, and disabled main characters are unfortunately some of the least represented in children’s literature. This story was inspired by real lives—particularly the ones in my immediate family. It tells the joy of finding love in an online space, while not shying away from the difficult reality of chronic illness that one in 10 teenagers live with on a daily basis."

The World Between Us will be released in paperback, e-book and audio in the UK in March 2021.