Title: Far From You
Author: Tess Sharpe
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Released: March 27 2014
Trigger Warnings: Addiction, homophobia, death, violence, murder
Representation: Chronic pain, disabled, recovering addict, lesbian, bisexual
Synopsis*: Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.
That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.
Forced into rehab for an addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer—but can she track them down before they come for her?
Why in the fuck did I not read this sooner???
Mina hides behind her secrets and I wither away my soul with pills, and we are Just Fine, Thank You. Reckless girls dancing down dirt roads, waiting to be saved from ourselves.
I don’t even know where to start??? Like this was just sooooo good??? I mean, the suspense, thriller, murder plot was average at best, and arguably that’s the whole point of this book, right? Wrong! That’s not at all what makes this book. What makes this book is literally everything else.
Far From You is this complex little book about drug addiction, bisexuality, best friends; what happens when you fall in love with your best friend, complex and messy relationships, grief, and what it means to try and be a better person, for yourself and for those who love you.
I’m quickly discovering that I really enjoy books with non-linear, broken up timelines. They excite me, and I’m far more likely to keep telling myself ‘just one more chapter’, especially when the chapters and quick and short.
Everything about me is tired and cracked and hungry. In more ways than one. In all ways that are bad.
Nine months. Two weeks. Six days. Fourteen hours.
Sophie is such an incredible, complex character. She’s so strong, and throughout the book, it is beyond clear that she tries her hardest to be the best person she can be.
Like, I love me a morally grey character, but sometimes I forget how much I love characters that are just trying their damnedest to be good. This book reminded me of that.
When we first meet Sophie, she’s getting out of rehab for her drug addiction that she already kicked, and is on the hunt for her best friend and love of her life, Mina’s, killer.
Don’t @ me. That’s not a spoiler.
She is constantly battling her addiction throughout the book, because when you get sober that hunger doesn’t just go away. It never does. It sits with you for the rest of life and you have to choose every day not to relapse.
Sophie also deals with chronic pain, and being disabled, after a car accident when she was young and you watch as she pushes herself, pushes too far, and has to suffer the consequences. The whole time I was like ‘Honey, no. Look after yourself, please’. But I’ve been there. Not knowing when to stop, because something feels so damn important, that, no, ‘I can’t afford to take a break right now.‘ It was so realistic, and honest, and as someone who has chronic pain, I thought it was terrifically done.
With my addiction tackled, now they’re setting out to fix me completely. A New and Improved Sophie. Whole and mended, with no jagged edges or sharp points. Someone who doesn’t look like she knows how death feels.
Sophie’s also having to face her family who all think she relapsed and is the reason her best friend is dead. Through that, we see how much addiction can fracture a family, which, speaking from experience, as someone who has been both the addicted and trying to help a loved one still in the grasp of addiction, that’ll fracture a family a fucking load.
Her parents are caught between tough love and soft love. Not knowing when to believe Sophie, and when to assume she’s lying. And that shit is hard, guys.
Sophie is just trying to prove that her parents can actually trust her; that she’s not as lost as her they think she is. But more importantly, she wants them to be supportive and for them all to just stop hurting each other. But she also gets it. She totally gets why her parents don’t know what to do and are trying and failing, to help her.
“It was Mina this whole time, wasn’t it?”
I give him the only thing I can: the cold, hard truth. The one that’ll rewrite every memory he has—of him and me, her and me, the two of them, all three of us: “It’ll always be Mina.”
This book kinda has a love triangle, and by kinda I mean not at all??? Like, it’s there, but it’s not the tropey kind. It’s, more than anything, just a bunch of complex and messy relationships that overlap and intersect, just like in real life. And this is what Sharpe does so well, she shows just how messy things get when people care about each other and that it’s still worth it.
She smiles, open and encouraging. “Best of both worlds, I guess.”
It makes me laugh, the sound bursting out of me like truth. It makes me want to cry and thank her. To tell her that I’ve never told anyone before, and to tell it and have it be accepted like it’s no big deal feels like a gift.
Sharpe also portrays bisexuality in such a positive light. Sophie uses the term herself, proudly. She’s unafraid to give in to the feelings she has for Mina, even though Mina is. It talks about homophobia but doesn’t make that the focus. This book celebrates the girl’s different sexual identities, without fetishizing them.
The best parts of this book, are any and all of the flashbacks of Sophie and Mina’s relationship. It shows how intense relationships can really be between girls (and honestly that’s the case whether it’s romantic or platonic). How easy it is to hurt each other and to keep hurting each other, even when you don’t mean to, don’t want to, but especially when you do.
Mina led, and I followed. She hid, and I was her shelter. She kept secrets, and I guarded them. Mina lied, and so did I. Sometimes we were downright ruthless to each other.
For once, it isn’t some cotton-candy idea of her; it’s who she was, in all her maddening, heart-squeezing truth.
It took me a little while to warm up to Mina, she felt a little flat, to begin with, but as the story progressed, as we were fed more and more snippets of her, she grew into her own fully-fleshed out character and I really felt for her. She’s confused and hurt for most of the book, and she has a hunger, much like Sophie, to know things. She is curious and dedicated.
“I’ll choose you,” I say. “No matter how hard it is. No matter what people say. Every time, I’ll choose you. It’s up to you to choose me back.”
I just really loved it. It wasn’t perfect, main-plot-wise, but I didn’t care, because that’s not what was important to me. Sophie and Mina were what was important and I enjoyed every second of it. Even when it was triggering, even when it hurt to read, especially when it hit too close to home.
I’m a queer (still figuring out my identities) woman, who has chronic pain and I have battled addiction, addiction brought on because of wanting to not be in pain. Do y’all know how rare it is to find someone this similar to me in books or T.V. or films??? That shit is nowhere! And yet, here I am, sitting with this wonderful, beautiful book, that gets me. Like really gets me. Wow, is this what it feels like to be represented well??? Amazing.
Mina likes to play with fire.
But I’m the one who gets burned.
*Taken from Goodreads.
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I read this book as part of my 2018 Library Love binge, where I read as many library books as possible to take advantage of my great local library network!
To follow my binge reading adventure just visit my 2018 Library Love shelf.
Or I’ll also be updating my 2018 Library Love Blog Post as I go!