Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller | Diversity: bisexual + chronic pain | My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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?
When her best friend, Mina, is murdered and the cops find drugs in Sophie’s pocket, she’s forced into rehab, despite the fact that she’s been clean for six months. No one believes her when she insists that Mina’s murder wasn’t about drugs, so when she’s released from rehab, Sophie sets about to find out the real story—because it’s the only way she will be able to move on. Going back and forth in time, Far From You shows the depth of love, the obsessions that drive Sophie, and the constant struggle to deal with chronic pain and keep from a drug relapse.
I first read this book when it came out in 2014 and I remember absolutely flying through the story. I wanted to know what really happened when Mina was murdered, but I also was drawn into discovering how Sophie came to be the hardened, bitter, drug addict that we meet in Chapter 1. This is one of those rare books where no sentences are wasted. The first-person present-tense narration that has driven me insane in other books is perfect in this story; we spend just enough time in Sophie’s head to understand the extent of her chronic pain and her Oxy addiction, but not so much that it feels like too much.
complex female characters
One thing Tess Sharpe does so well is constructing Sophie and Mina’s characters through the flashbacks. I appreciate Sophie’s character so much: yes, she has made some awful decision in the past—decisions she will live with for the rest of her life—but she’s real. And as much as she loves her best friend Mina, she recognizes that Mina’s imperfect: she’s secretive, manipulative, and often downright bitchy. The two girls show that nobody is perfect, that teenage girls are often complicated, torn between what they want and what they feel they should want, and it’s refreshing to read. I loved the comparison between Mina’s obsession with the mysterious disappearance of Jackie three years ago, and Sophie’s addiction to pain meds—it shows that drug addiction is just one form that obsession can take.
amazing on-the-page bi rep
Slight spoilers here, but I feel that it needs to be said: Far From You is one of the first books I read with on-the-page bi rep that doesn’t fall into biphobic stereotypes. I can’t express how wonderfully refreshing it was for me to read a character who says “I’m not gay, I’m bisexual” and her statement is taken as a fact. I stopped even telling people I’m bi because no one ever seems to believe me. I thought it was interesting that Mina, the lesbian character, felt that Sophie had a choice, that she could choose to be with a guy and it would solve everything. I thought Sophie did a good job of showing that, while being bisexual means you can be attracted to people of both/any genders, the way you feel about a person has a lot to do with personality—and the way you feel about guys is always a little different from the way you feel about girls.
chronic pain & prescription drug addiction
Due to a car accident when she was 14, Sophie’s been dealing with serious chronic pain ever since. This isn’t just something that’s thrown into the story as background once or twice either; Sophie’s constantly referring to her level of pain that day, and she has to always deal with the fact that her one leg is bad. The disability isn’t just thrown in there for brownie points—it’s part of who she is, something she constantly deals with. I really enjoyed (particularly on this re-read) the discussion of yoga. It seems like the last thing a bitter girl like Sophie would end up doing, but she relies on it as a way to ground herself as well as coming to acceptance of her body and dealing with chronic pain. It’s just beautiful.
Same thing with the drug addiction: it doesn’t just appear once. Sophie’s constantly reciting to herself how long she’s been clean, a constant reminder of what she’s fighting against. What people often don’t realize about addiction is that it isn’t something you recover from and then that’s it; it’s something you’re constantly in recovery from, something you have to keep dealing with for the rest of your life. At the end of the story, having solved the murder mystery, Sophie has to keep fighting even harder, now that she doesn’t have the mystery obsession to keep her clean. The story is over, but hers will keep going. I’ve never had an addiction, but I can relate to Sophie’s recovery process in terms of my Depression: it’s something I just have to keep on living with, and that’s okay.
overall: highly recommend
If you’re in the mood for a mystery, a character-driven story of redemption, and a girl who never gives up, check out Far From You if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.
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Have you read Far From You? What are your favorite mystery-thriller books? What was the first book in which you saw yourself represented, the way I saw myself in the bisexual rep in this book? Let’s talk in the comments!