“Far From You” is far from originality
Tess Sharpe’s debut novel provides another cookie-cutter read. | goodreads.com
Tess Sharpe’s “Far From You” is like any other novel in the Young Adult genre. It has a woefully misunderstood protagonist wronged by her parents and oblivious to the boy who loves her as well as the impending mystery she needs to solve. On top of all this, the main character has a huge secret no one knows about.
The reason each of these elements remain common throughout YA literature, and a lot of literature for that matter, is because they can work so well when constructed properly. “Far From You” lacks the conviction to do this. As a result, a potentially great story about acceptance of oneself ends up a trite compilation of go-to plot lines.
The story follows Sophie Winter’s struggle of kicking her oxycodone addiction while simultaneously grieving the death of her best friend Mina, who was murdered right beside her. “Far From You” begins with a flashback to Mina’s death before picking up in the present with Sophie in a therapy session on her last day in rehab. Typical banter between the ignorant therapist and Sophie ensues, revealing how Sophie ended up there. Both her parents and the police held Sophie responsible for Mina’s murder and wrote it off as a drug deal gone wrong — even though Sophie had been clean for six months at the time. As a result, Sophie was court-ordered for three months in rehab and counseling sessions upon her release.
REMAINDER OF THE STORY
At this point, “Far From You” still held promise for me and the remainder of the story. The narrative quality plummets when Sophie goes to her first post-rehab counseling appointment. When the therapist asks Sophie why Mina’s death upsets her so much, she begins remembering what their relationship was like. Within the first couple chapters, the giant secret Sophie has kept becomes blatantly obvious to any reader who can put two and two together — she was in love with Mina.
A MYSTERY ELEMENT
From there on, Sharpe introduces a mystery element to the story and Sophie becomes a detective as she tries to figure out who murdered Mina. She receives help from Mina’s older brother, the boy crazy in love with her, and the two eventually find out the shocking truth behind the murder. While murder mysteries need the element of surprise, “Far From You” somehow ended up out of left field and painfully obvious at the same time. The motivation did not seem believable because the suspects were made clear from the start. This lack of cohesive story development seemed to be the common thread through the novel.
I was sorely disappointed with the lack of depth with which Sharpe wrote her characters. I honestly believe if each was more complex and not as shallow as a kiddie pool, “Far From You” could have made a gripping and beautiful story. The book was a page turner, not because I could not wait to find out what happened, but because it was so simply written.