I was so psyched to dive into Tess Sharpe’s Far From You. At the Fourteenery retreat, I heard Tess read a little aloud and her writing blew me away. Add that to the fact that she’s weaved a compelling mystery and touching relationships, and Far From You is a must-read. A little more in depth as to why this should be on your pre-order list:
I have major respect for anyone that can pull of a good mystery. Tess definitely delivers in that department–I spent a lot of the book thinking “Oh, I bet it’s this person…but what about this person?” (This was especially exciting after reading Gone Girl and figuring out the ‘twist’ on the first page.) When the reveal came at the end, it felt earned based on the clues Tess places throughout, but still dramatic and compelling.
2. Then and Now
Chapters alternate between Sophie’s life before Mina’s death and rehab and after returning home again. Not only does this enhance the mystery part of the novel, but it also lets us gradually see how Sophie’s relationships with Mina and Trev develop and how Sophie’s addiction to pain medication begins. Plus it totally kept me flipping pages–I’d finish a chapter and think “But what happens next?!”
3. Small Town Life
Tess totally creates the sense of small town life, and it never feels cliche or cloying. There’s major pressure on Sophie, since everyone knows about her addiction problems and since many people believe she’s to blame for Mina’s death. She can’t escape her baggage. But the small town atmosphere also means Sophie knows the people around her, and makes the murder feel that much more personal and intense.
After a bad car accident, Sophie becomes addicted to pain medication. I can’t think of another YA novel that deals with this kind of addition, and it feels so genuine. I also love Sophie’s determination to stay off pills once she gets clean, even while dealing with the major emotional pain that comes along with trying to solve Mina’s murder.
5. The Ones You Love
Tess develops Sophie and Mina’s relationship in a touching, sad, beautiful way. They’re deeply devoted to each other and capable of causing each other great love and pain, which makes both their friendship and their relationship so genuine and heartbreaking. Similarly, Sophie’s friendship/relationship with Trev feels genuine and heartbreaking in its own way. In the hands of a lesser writer, these relationships could have come across as false or contrived, but Tess makes each one lovely and sad and true.
Representations of family life in novels are a bit of a pet peeve of mine (in case you couldn’t tell) so I was really pleased to see that the Winters family is just as layered as any of the other characters in Sophie’s life. Her parents love her but are concerned about her and don’t really trust her–aka, they feel like real parents who have seen their daughter go through tough times. Also, Aunt Macy is pretty much the best and I want a spin-off about her.
Sophie Winters of my new favorite protagonists. She’s dealing with the murder of her best friend, getting framed for said murder, getting clean, etc. and still manages to be super badass. While I was reading, I got a great Veronica Mars-ish vibe from FAR FROM YOU, but Sophie might actually be more kickass than Veronica. Guys, that is major praise from me.
Obviously Mina is a huge presence in the book, but one character that stood out for me was Sophie’s friend Rachel. In a book that has a lot of (earned) intense emotional relationships, Rachel serves as a breath of fresh air. She’s smart and thoughtful and I always enjoyed her scenes.
9. The Last Line
Kill me with the feels, why don’t you Tess?
10. Tess Is Made of Awesome
Tess is the kind of person I’d meet and think “Oh, man, look at how awesome she looks. She’s going to be way too cool for me. No way could we be friends.” But then of course she’s open and wonderful and passionate and of course you’re friends. She cares deeply about others and wants to make the world a better place, and also runs around with her beautiful dogs and chops vegetables as stress relief. This is a writer you want in your life.
Far From You is out in less than a month, so put it on your to-read/pre-order list now!