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Why in 5: Far from You by Tess Sharpe

Far From You by Tess SharpeFar From You by Tess Sharpe ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion
Pages: 352
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: investigation, mystery, friendship, secrets, LGBTQ
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: Back from an unnecessary stint in rehab after her best friend’s murder is labeled “a drug bust gone wrong”, Sophie is determined to find out WHO killed Mina no matter what. Her parents no longer trust her, Trev (Mina’s brother and her best friend) can’t figure out whether to hug her or push her away, and Sophie discovers depths to her relationship with Mina that she never expected.

1. Back in January, I made a shelf on Goodreads called “Top Notch Female Leads” so I could keep better track of, well, top notch female leads. Sophie fits the bill. Not only is she working hard to maintain her sobriety (made especially difficult because no one believes her that rehab worked the first time) but she is bravely crossing into unknown places (having to access painful memories) to get to the bottom of Mina’s murder. Sophie is gutsy, smart, unrelenting, focused, and also allows herself to go through all the motions of grief.

2. I very much enjoy books that shift back between past and present, and Sharpe does a sharp (ha) job here. In books like How to Love by Katie Cotugno and Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas (two very different picks, I realize), the timeline is carefully crafted to reveal little by little as you move forward in the book. Things gradually begin to click and it makes for an effective read. Sharpe’s backtracking spans a few years but I thought the scenes worked not only placement wise but also emotionally. As we were roped in to Sophie and Mina’s story, I felt Sophie’s loss even more and just how traumatic all of this has been for her.

3. After I fell long and hard for Dangerous Girls, I’ve been more focused on finding a YA thriller that throws me into a reading tizzy. Far from You is the ONLY one I’ve read that comes close. The mystery of Mina’s death, which morphed into a whole other story, kept me guessing until the very, very end. It was totally suspenseful, without being overly dramatic, and explained very well.

4. At the core, Far from You is a love story — but it’s a complicated one. Sophie has been in love with Mina forever. Not only did she lose her best friend, she lost the possibility of what they could be in the future. It was heartbreaking to watch Sophie come to terms with this, but I’m glad we were also given an opportunity to meet Mina through the flashbacks. She was a caring and fun friend who wasn’t afraid to be honest (especially when Sophie’s drug addiction was at its worst). There was also a lot of fear here too. Mina wasn’t sure she could commit herself to a relationship with Sophie and continually paraded boyfriends around and tried to set Sophie up with her brother, Trev. This was a tough one for me because as much as I loved Mina and Sophie, I was rooting for Trev a lot of the time. He was obviously devoted to Sophie, though unaware of her secrets, and their chemistry was so apparent. Was it a love triangle? Maybe, kind of? (You’ll have to read to find out…) Bravo to Sharpe, who impressively and honestly tackled the layers of these relationships.

5. This last one goes out to the supporting characters. An aunt who goes out on a limb for you and a new friend who believes in you when no one else does — having characters like these folded into the story makes Sophie’s journey more than a solo trip. No matter what she had to work through herself, she still needed people to lean on and Sharpe’s commitment to a solid supporting cast only made Far From You that much better.

Final thoughts: In addition to all the above, I loved that Far From You contained two elements I haven’t seen much in YA: a recovering addict + bisexual main character. Those two qualities might seem too much for one story but Sharpe balanced out each part of Far From You so well; the book was well-paced, dark, suspenseful, and a really strong tale of friendship, learning to believe in yourself, and what it takes to move on.

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June 1, 2014 - 5:12 am

Judith - My favorite part of this book is, hands down, the romance. I love love love reading LGBTQ books, because diverse books FTW, and this one was just amazingly done. Furthermore, I think Tess Sharpe’s writing was beautiful and I can’t wait to read more from her. Interestingly enough, I didn’t like the timeline. It confused me SO MUCH at first, and once I got used to it, I still didn’t really like it. That just doesn’t always work for me, I guess.

May 22, 2014 - 10:24 pm

brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - WHAT. I love carefully crafted timelines and a really good YA thriller? You know I am ALWAYS looking for those! I’ve heard a few good things about this so looks like I need to add this one to my list too!

May 22, 2014 - 7:34 am

Leah - I keep hearing such fantastic things about this book, but something kept me from paying attention (the cover maybe? I feel like it looks similar to a cover of a book that had crappy reviews..)

This sounds like such a Leah book: complicated love, kickass female lead, thriller – last year I was on a HUGE YA Thriller kick and I’m craving more! I really have no idea why I’ve been dragging my feet for so long. This is definitely a book I could get into!

May 20, 2014 - 1:12 pm

Ellice - I think we discussed this book on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, and I STILL haven’t read it. I have it on my Kindle, so hopefully I’ll get to it soon. I’m very curious! You know how much I adore How to Love, so just the fact that Far From You has one tiny little thing in common with it makes me want to read it even more 🙂

I love the name “Why in 5.” You ladies always have the best ideas for features or review styles on this blog!

May 19, 2014 - 3:26 pm

Summer - I have no idea why, but I remember skimming the synopsis and cover and going, “Eh, maybe someday.” Now, after reading this, I WANT IT SO BAD. I love those types of writing styles and timelines where you’re given it piece by piece. It makes for a really interesting read.

May 19, 2014 - 2:39 pm

Liz (Along for the Read) - Yay I’m glad you weren’t disappointed! Definitely agree that she did the alternating time lines very well, it reminded me of Dangerous Girls a lot in that respect. It is a risky move doing alternating time lines like this because it can go very wrong but I think this is probably one of the best examples of it done well that I’ve seen.

This story had SO MUCH going on that it should have been a complete mess, yet somehow it wasn’t.

May 19, 2014 - 12:12 pm

Candice @ The Grown-Up YA - Very interesting! I’ve had my eye on this one for a while – I even have a copy – but had no clue what it was really about. Other than the short blurb. I think is the push I needed to make a point to give this one a try! Glad you liked it so much!

May 19, 2014 - 11:51 am

Alexa S. - I’m thrilled you enjoyed Far From You! It’s seriously a really great debut. I loved how deeply drawn into the story I was, and how I didn’t figure out anything at all until the end!

May 19, 2014 - 10:38 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I’ve been curious about Far From You for awhile now. I just went to the Rochester Teen Book Festival and I heard Tess Sharpe speak, and I got even more excited for Far From You. I’m glad you liked this, and I definitely need to read this.

Also, if you do like YA thrillers, have you even read or looked into I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga? That is a great thriller, but it is definitely dark and even a bit spooky. I loved it and the sequel though.

May 19, 2014 - 10:36 am

Carly - I have had this book on my to-read list for a while now! I keep checking my library to see if they have it in e-book format yet! I think I might also look into Dangerous Girls as well!

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