Author: Tess Sharpe (Twitter)
Publish Date: April 8, 2014
Genre: YA, Mystery
Source: Personal Copy
Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice. The first time, she's fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that'll take years to kick.The second time, she's seventeen, and it's no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina's murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina's brother won't speak to her, her parents fear she'll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina's murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.
When a mystery novel is truly done well, it works hard to transcend the genre and leave readers with a lasting impression that goes far beyond the normal "whodunit" routine. Novels that succeed in doing so are extremely rare though, so when you find that one-off, you make sure to hold it close and savour every last page, if only hoping to immerse yourself just a little deeper in the story. Far From You is exactly that type of story, creating a world in which we can all see little pieces of ourselves. Showing readers the depths of despair, as well as the wildly optimistic beauty of the future, author Tess Sharpe weaves us into a web from which we hope to untangle ourselves, but never truly hope to be free of.
I very seldom read novels with story lines that alternate between past and present that actually work, but I have to say that Far From You does this with expert ease. By offering us both tragic past memories, as well as tales of happier times, we are able to see our heroine, Sophie in multiple lights, which makes her more sympathetic and, ultimately, far more real. It's important to note that this story rotates between these POVs seemingly at random, offering us tidbits of hope when we need them most, and tempering them with gravity and reality, as well, never straying too far from the actual message and theme of the story.
What I love about the mystery aspect of Far From You is that nobody appears to be entirely ruled out from the start. In most murder mysteries, we see a bait and switch sort of tactic, whereas this novel gives us a little dirt on everyone, making certain that we're never one hundred percent certain that anyone is innocent. While it makes for a slightly less breathtaking reveal, it certainly didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story, and I thought it was extremely clever how intricate Ms. Sharpe's details were when scattered throughout the story with great care.
My only real issue with the novel was the drug addiction storyline. I never felt as though it was really explored in depth to warrant it being such a poignant part of the novel. Drug addiction, in and of itself, is vastly complex, and I would have loved to see it portrayed in deeper shades of grey than we saw. Throughout the novel, it was presented as almost a character roadblock, but we never really feel or experience the ramifications through Sophie's eyes, which lessened its impact in the end.
Overall though, Far From You definitely exceeded my expectations and offered me everything from love, to mystery, to tragedy and personal triumph. It's the type of novel that has a little bit of everything for everyone, and it embraces its genre fully. I give this novel a strong 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary novels and mysteries.