Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

We still have a foot of old crusty snow in the woods with more snow due tonight.

In Far From You by Tess Sharpe a 17-year-old girl witnesses her best friend's murder, but no one will believe her story. The murderer cleverly planted drugs in Sophie's pocket to make the murder look like a drug buy that broke bad. Most people blame Sophie for Mina's death because Sophie was a junkie. The police shut the case with a shrug. As soon as Sophie is released from rehab, she starts investigating the murder herself.

The original set up drew me in immediately, and Sophie was a wonderful character, unlike any I've encountered before in young adult fiction. A car accident left Sophie with disabilities and an addiction to painkillers, but she learns to fight the pain and refuses to be a victim. Tough, smart and confrontational, Sophie is not the stereotypical sweet, helpless disabled kid. Her struggle with addiction was beautifully written, including the toll it takes on her friends and her family:
"Dad isn't disappointed in me like Mom is. He doesn't have that mix of anger and fear that's fueling her. Instead, he doesn't know what to do or how to feel with me, and sometimes I think it's worse, that he can't decide between forgiving and blaming me."
It was refreshing to read a book with a lesbian relationship that was just a part of the overall story and not the centerpiece. Sophie's obsessive passion and Mina's ambivalence were well rendered. The voice and dialogue were true to teens and sounded fresh, not formulaic.

As much as I loved the characters and their story, I had a hard time following it due to the narrative structure. The book unfolds in chapters alternating between the present day murder investigation and out-of-sequence flashbacks to the past. I got lost and confused and couldn't flip back easily because I was reading a digital galley. There was a lot of plot to follow: the car accident that disabled Sophie, her drug addiction, two rehabs, two possible murders, many suspects and two bisexual love triangles. The backstory was more interesting than the present day murder investigation, which took center-stage.

I'd recommend Far From You to readers aged 14 and older. The ebook will be released on March 27, 2014, but I'd advise waiting until April 8th for the hardcover version so that you can flip back if you get lost. It's worth the extra effort to piece the story together. I'm curious to see what Tess Sharpe writes next.

Reviewer's Disclaimer: I received a free digital galley from Disney-Hyperion via Netgalley but was not compensated for my review.


tina said...

It sounds like an intriguing story.

Gloria Baker said...

I love this review Sarah!!
Sounds good!

A Cuban In London said...

Another engaging review. You had me there, turning the (virtual) pages. I love the fact that the story concerns a disabled who doesn't come across as a hapless victim. I've had a few of those already.


Greetings from London.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Wow, that's a lot to pack in one novel, but it's also intriguing and sounds refreshingly different. Thanks for the review. (sorry for the loooong winter. I hope springs comes soon for you)

Carol said...

Your spring looks like mine Sarah. Thank goodness for good books to read. As always, your reviews inspire readers to want to order a copy — from their local bookstores preferably.

Sarah Laurence said...

All, thanks for sharing your enthusiasm. Carol, yay for indies!

Barrie said...

This sounds very intriguing. I think I'll take your advice and read it as an actual book. I'm amazing at how often I end up flipping back because I've missed something.

Alyson | New England Living said...

That does sound really interesting! I have a hard time find books my 16 year old daughter likes to read. It's a very specific type (doesn't like romance centered, silly novels). I'm going to have her look into this one!

Rose said...

This sounds like a very interesting story--you know I love murder mysteries! You mention one thing I don't like about my Kindle or Nook app: going back to check out an earlier page or chapter is much easier when all you have to do is flip through real pages.

Amanda Summer said...

And a debut novel to boot - impressive. For some reason I couldn't help but think of Lisbeth Salander when you described the protagonist.