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Feb 20 2014

Review: “Far From You” by Tess Sharpe

Far From YouTitle: Far From You
Author: Tess Sharpe
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Format: ARC
Release Date: 08 April 2014
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Young Adult (YA)
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads | Amazon
Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.

The first time, she's fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that'll take years to kick.

The second time, she's seventeen, and it's no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina's murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina's brother won't speak to her, her parents fear she'll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina's murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.

Thank you to Disney-Hyperion and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Far From You in exchange for a fair and honest review.

My Review of Far From You:

I didn’t mean to read this because I usually hate murder-mystery books, but that cover. WOW. It pulled me in. I mean LOOK AT IT. I love white Christmas lights, and the cover was fantastically confusing and out of place right up until the very end, but it is totally fitting and awesome. Fist bump to the designer.

As a tribute to drug addiction (of the hooked-on-pain-killers variety) I thought that Far From You did a good job. Addiction is a powerful force, one that many people suffer with day to day. I loved how Sophie owned her battle. She didn’t say, “I was a drug addict. I’m in recovery.” She said, “I AM a drug addict. I’m in recovery.” She knew every day of her life that she was still fighting the urge to wipe away the pain of her loss, her injuries and her guilt by taking pain meds. I respected that strength in Sophie, and it helped me connect with her as a character and respect the fact that she wasn’t in denial, she wasn’t hiding anything, and she was going to stay clean. Her potential relapse was never really in question because of the strength of her character. Sophie’s struggles both hardened and strengthened her so much. She was so comfortable with herself because after everything she’d gone through with her injuries and subsequent addiction, what does it matter what some stupid kids at school think?

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The other struggle is very tastefully and poignantly done. I haven’t read very many books dealing with LGBT characters, but I have heard that bisexual characters in particular are often misrepresented or poorly characterized, and we’ve all ready books with an awkwardly written “token” gay character. Sophie and Mina’s friendship is powerful, and in their teen years, there’s been something else, a secret they keep, one that Mina isn’t comfortable owning up to. Knowing as we do that Mina is dead, it’s hard to read this with any kind of feeling other than “this isn’t going to end well,” but Sharpe wove in enough moments of true friendship and love that Far From You wasn’t entirely depressing.

As far as style, Far From You was pretty good. The writing was solid, with flashes of excellence prose and some really great quotes. At first, I wasn’t a fan of how the flashback timeline jumped around. Once you get into the middle of the novel, though, the flashback timeline is more consistently linear, which helps a lot both with watching how Sophie and Mina grew together and also the order of events leading up to the murder. I actually did like the dual timelines, because you didn’t meet Mina and then see her die. You already knew she was dead and that’s awful, so you want to find out who did it and why.

3.5 Stars

2 comments

  1. Stormy

    I laughed at how you didn’t mean to read this book. I agree about the cover, though. It’s so beautiful and it fits really well! I have to admit I definitely checked out your rating first before reading your review since I really liked this one–I had to know what I was getting into!
    This is one of the few books were the jumping around timelines really worked for me because of a reason you pointed out–Mina dies at the beginning, so exploring the back story becomes more poignant, almost? It was a little confusing at first, but I was quite glad by the end. I thought the addiction issue was handled really well and realistically from what I know. I felt so bad for Sophie because of what lead her there in the first place!
    I think I liked this one so much because it was a murder mystery. . . that wasn’t JUST a murder mystery. It was definitely a big part, but there were a lot of other things and issues addressed in the story too.
    Stormy recently posted…Re-Examining a Genre: HorrorMy Profile

    1. Terri

      Ha, totally understandable. When you like a book, it’s hard to read a critical review. I usually shake my fists, LOL.

      At first, the flashbacks were confusing and I hated it. Once it started going (mostly) linear, I settled in and started enjoying the flashbacks. I think the biggest issue I had was that it was all numbers – her age, or the number of months ago, and I tend to get numbers mixed up in my head. If it had said “October of last year” I would’ve been better off, but that’s not the book’s fault. I’m too right-brained is all!

      Murder mystery almost never works for me, because I usually don’t end up caring who murdered who. Humanizing the victim really worked in this case, even though I’m sure it’s not a revolutionary tactic.

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