Far From You by Tess Sharpe ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
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.