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As Far As You'll Take Me

av Phil Stamper

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293645,600 (4.1)Ingen/inga
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Visar 3 av 3
As Far As You'll Take Me is a YA contemporary novel by Phil Stamper, about seventeen year old Marty, a gay teenager brought up in a strict religious household. He leaves Kentucky for London, to live with his cousin and play music. He is finally free to be himself and fully come out of the closet. But things are never that easy, and leaving everything behind is harder than he expected.

I wanted to read this because I absolutely adored The Gravity of Us, and with this novel Phil Stamper has done it again, writing something really moving and poignent and real. The book deals with the trauma of a religious upbringing, of being gay and straddling the line between being closeted and out, and coping with a family that loves you (and you love them) and yet wouldn't accept such a large part of you. Stamper explores unhealthy friendships and relationships, personal growth, finding your real friends, learning from mistakes and building new bridges all through the eyes of a sensitive, vulnerable teenager trying to make his own way in the world. There are realistic portrayals of mental health problems, including anxiety and panic attacks, and disordered eating, issues that are highly prevelant amongst LGBTQ youth. The plot of the novel is angsty, but also heartfelt, and I was rooting for Marty the whole way through.

I do feel that a book aimed at teenagers and featuring such difficult themes should have had a content warning in the description somewhere. Or even just a hint at what was to come. Any book that deals with disordered eating or eating disorders, especially when aimed at teenagers, needs to tread carefully. Forewarned is fore-armed, and even just a mention in the description would have been better than nothing. There is a list of phone numbers at the end, but in my opinion this isn't good enough, because the damage has already been done.

I also didn't really appreciate Welsh being referred to as 'straight up gibberish'! Maybe a minor quibble, but still, given the history of the Welsh language, it bothered me. ( )
  crimsonraider | Apr 1, 2021 |
A young adult novel geared for a pretty narrow audience - that being young members of the L, B, G, T, Q community who are struggling to find there way in life. Marty is seventeen and lives in a small town in rural Kentucky. and is not feeling the love from the locals and his family. He plays the oboe and gets a chance to go to London to look for opportunities there. There is, of course, a love interest that quickly grows in England. So here is the problem for me. The main character is too neurotic, blushes too much, hugs too much, cries too much etc. His personal drama crowds out the story for me. ( )
  muddyboy | Mar 21, 2021 |
Literary Merit: Good
Characterization: Very Good
Recommend: yes
Level: High School

This is a tough book to review because while it got a lot right, I think it skimmed over some areas where it should have gone deeper which gave a bad impression. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings after reading it that I'll try to explain. The main character, Marty, is escaping his life with religious parents and intense best friend in Kentucky to start over as an out and proud gay man in London, England with his cousin. He lied to his family to say he was accepted into a summer music program, but really he is moving there with no real plan other than to use his musical talent at playing the oboe to get jobs to be a professional musician. Right away, you can see how Marty's privileges allow him to make this life change with a better cushion than a lot of other people would have, yet there is never any acknowledgment of his sufficient funds in his bank account, family who already lives there to stay with, dual citizenship status because his mother is from Ireland, and musical ability that allows him to play in parks and immediately earn money. That lack of acknowledgment kept me at a bit of a distance when being asked to empathize with Marty.

However, his anxiety was so much like mine that I didn't have trouble relating to him as a character. I've had so many of his exact thought processes in new situations. Even though the author is from Ohio, I also liked how he described Kentucky as a place that can feel like home but have aspects that mean you have to leave it to fully be yourself. Being LGBTQ in Kentucky isn't easy or even always safe, and the religious community can push people out more than it brings them in. I knew exactly what the author was describing when Marty would talk about the state and his family.

The other big aspects of the book in addition to moving away to live in a new country were the travel once there, Marty's unhealthy relationship with food, and the new friendships, and even a first boyfriend. Though the travel was fun, this is not a road trip or travel story because the other issues of Marty's story go a lot deeper. The friendships and romantic relationship were done really really well. They felt like relationships teenagers would actually have, good and bad. The toxic aspects were handled well and I think would help teens identify the toxic behaviors in their own lives that might otherwise get excused or overlooked as Marty did at first. Marty also developed dangerous eating habits of skipping meals to always want to lose more weight. I thought this could have been handled better in the end when it seemed too much like a switch he just turned off to wrap up the ending. The ending overall felt this way and was too rushed to give the more complex understanding the author had been going for in the rest of the book. It was a good story with important discussions and representation, but it was also missing some additional focus and discussion that holds it back from being fully realized. ( )
  SWONroyal | Feb 23, 2021 |
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