Thursday, 20 May 2010

Review: Far From You

Dear Blog,
I have to go out soon so this will be a quick(ish) review.
Summary (from Goodreads): Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but time hasn't quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can, by writing her music, losing herself in the love of her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife.
But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half-sister, she'll face issues she's been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful.
Perhaps she's not so alone after all...

Review: I am completely obsessed with novels-in-verse.  Far from You is one of the many aforementioned novels-in-verse I've found while trawling through Goodreads for hours on end for cool books I'd not have discovered otherwise.  So I worship Goodreads for opening me eyes to a wonderful world of books.  Even though I must spend much money on them. 

I wasn't very keen on it at the beginning. Alice was a typical angst-ridden teenager, and I thought she was selfish and whiny.  I know her mother died and everything, but that has nothing to do with her selfish-and-whinyness.  Except that the whole reason she's selfish and whiny is that her dad remarried after her mother died.  I wanted to yell, "get over it!  You've got a little sister.  Smile!  And better a stepmother than no mother!"  Which is true.  She wasn't an evil fairy-tale type stepmother.  Apart from when she burst into tears because she couldn't stop the baby crying, she seemed nice enough.
However, Alice and her stepmother both showed their true colours when they were stranded by the snowstorm, and I liked them both as they grew to like each other.  Ultimately I admire them both for their bravery.

I can't help but compare this with If I Stay.  Music.  Boyfriend.  Snow.  Sound familiar?  That's because, well, it is.  And, alas, I think If I Stay wins in most cases.  The music seems more alive, the protagonist more likeable.  But you've got to love Far From You because the characters change.  They develop.  They learn!  That's an essential part in any good story. And it's such a poetic book.  The poetry is wonderfully effective and really got you inside Ali's head.  I really felt her hopelessless when she started burning all the precious things they had with them, and when she was trying to get hold of the sweet that fell between the seats.

Far From You is the sort of book to read on a dark and stormy night, curled up on the sofa or in bed with a mug of hot chocolate.  The more safe you feel, the more effective the spare poetry feels.  You really feel the cold and the fear of being trapped in a car with a tiny baby, with nothing to eat or drink.

Summary: I'm so very glad I read this as part of my current poetry craze.  I shall definitely be reading Lisa Schroeder's other novels,  I Heart You, You Haunt Me and Chasing Brooklyn.  Rating: 4.5

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