A Long Way from You by Gwendolyn Heasley ( website | twitter )
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Harper Teen
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: New York City, art, tourist, summer in the city
Format read: ARC from Little Bird Publicity (thanks!)
Summary: When Kitsy is offered a chance to spend a month in New York City during the summer attending an art program, she jumps at the chance to take a break from all her responsibility in Texas and do something for herself.
Some of my favorite times in college were taking out-of-towners to NYC for the first time and seeing their eyes just bulge out of their head because 1) they had always dreamed of this moment and 2) it’s always bigger, crazier, louder than it seems on TV and in the movies. NYC is fabulous and even after spending years in close proximity to the Big Apple, I still get a huge kick out of reading books set in my city. It’s like discovering it all over again with new eyes.
Kitsy is probably the cutest Texan I’ve met since Magan. She’s friendly, enthusiastic, and considerate; she’s passionate about art and people, especially her little brother, Kiki, her boyfriend, Hands, and her best friend, Corrinne. Corrinne is actually the reason she lands the opportunity to spend a few weeks in NYC. Her parents offer to sponsor Kitsy in an art program at Parsons. (Kitsy and Corrine met in Heasley’s first book, Where I Belong, which I haven’t read yet but is sitting in my Nook library.)
Despite what the cover art leads you to believe, A Long Way From You focuses more on a girl falling in love with the city and discovering great things about herself, than finding a boy. (Even though, there is a cute musician boy…) Heasley is spot-on with Kitsy bumbling through the streets of NYC, catching the wrong PATH train, manuevering around with a huge umbrella (a big no-no), and getting too distracted by the city to go to class. Those pretty much all happened to me when I started going to school here too. (At least I can laugh about those moments now!) Kitsy has a genuine love for the city, and it’s contagious. I was desperately ready to visit the MOMA, take a boat ride in Central Park, or go to a big fancy event.
While things might fall together a bit too perfectly in Kitsy’s world (with some drama thrown in for good measure), A Long Way From You feels like the quintessential New York fairy tale. Kitsy meets new people, visits the landmarks, and tries to find her corner of this big world. I did like how Heasley had her juggle a long distance relationship with Hands back in Texas. I could relate to her struggles to balance everything sparkley and new in NYC with her commitments and feelings of things that she left at home. With Kitsy’s upbeat personality and how deeply she cares and connects with others, you want nothing but the best for her.
A Long Way From You is a delightful, light-hearted read that does show its serious side at times, even if it never dwells on it. By the end of the book, you’ll be ready to hang out with Kitsy during her next trip to New York and buy her a cupcake while seeing the sights.
Need more convincing?
> Jess from Gone with the Words: “[Kitsy] is just such a genuine, likeable character. She’s sweet and kind and embracing. I just adore her.”
> Sharon from Fictionally Inclined: “In finding her way through this new adventure, Kitsy truly got to know herself for what was perhaps the first time. I really loved watching her develop through her interactions with others and her journey through her art.”