Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Far From You by Tess Sharpe
Series: Standalone
Published: March 10, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
pages (hardcover)
Genre: Contemporary young adult/mystery/LGBTQ
Acquired this book: From the library
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

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.

Far From You is one of those quietly powerful books that deals with big issues and leaves you feeling a mixture of emotions. It was heartbreaking in so many ways, but also inspiring and hopeful.

Sophie has been through a lot. She’s been torn apart physically and mentally, but she’s a fighter. When her best friend is murdered and it’s covered up to look like a drug deal gone wrong, Sophie is sent to rehab, where she’s forced to bide her time until she’s free to investigate Mina’s murder herself. Despite being clean for months, no one believes Sophie when she swears she hasn’t relapsed, and they blame her for Mina’s death. I felt horrible for Sophie and the injustice of what she had to go through. I can’t imagine watching someone you love be murdered right in front of you and then being blamed for it and having no one believe you. I also appreciated that she was different, having gone through a terrible car accident and being left with physical side effects and chronic pain. I liked Sophie a lot and admired her strength. 

The story was told alternately between the past and the present. I liked this for the most part, because it was an interesting way to get to know Mina, plus Sophie’s history with her and with other side characters. Their relationship was easy to imagine. They had the type of close friendship where they depended on each other, would do anything for each other, and seemed to share everything, but they both held tightly to secrets, big and small, and sometimes dangerous. They were best friends, but they were also so much more. They loved each other and hurt each other and needed each other. Reading about the past, knowing Mina’s fate, was bittersweet. Everything in Sophie’s life was tied to Mina, and knowing everything she’d already gone through before losing Mina was just so heartbreaking.

But...because of the way the story was told, it was hard to get truly invested in their relationship. Maybe it's because we know going in that Mina dies, or maybe it's because we see a lot of the negatives of their relationship, the unhealthy parts that make it hard to imagine them figuring things out in order to be together openly. If this had been a regular contemporary, minus the murder and the subsequent mystery, I think it would have been easier to want to see them together. In theory, I appreciated it - falling for your best friend, wanting more, being unsure, wishing things could be different, loving someone so deeply - but we only see bits and pieces of it. The whole thing left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was hard to look past how unhealthy their relationship was, but on the other hand it was a realistic portrayal of teenage love, and of bisexuality, which is often either glossed over, ignored, or changed into something different and often inaccurate.

Overall, I had mixed feelings about Far From You. Part of me really enjoyed it, but I did have some issues with it. The mystery was interesting, but for the most part, the book was really slow and I felt like I spent a lot of time waiting for something to happen. Despite that, the story kept me wondering, and I think I suspected just about everyone and yet still ended up mostly surprised when the mystery was resolved. Toward the end, it got really exciting, and I liked how everything was resolved.

Far From You is a story about love in its many forms, friendship, loss, and perseverance. It’s emotional and bittersweet, and deals with a lot of serious, real-life issues. While I didn’t love it, I’d recommend it to fans of contemporary, mystery, and LGBTQ books.

Have you read Far From You? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Let's talk here or on Twitter

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