Review: Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Obsession – is it ever healthy for you, and if so, at what point does it become dangerous?

For Sophie in Tess Sharpe’s Far From You, her obsession with finding out who caused her best friend’s death is dangerous from the beginning, because Mina was murdered. Everyone believes it’s because OxyContin-addicted Sophie was looking for a hit, and Mina was murdered by a drug dealer, but Sophie’s clean, and she knows the truth.

As Sophie struggles to find out who killed Mina, she must also piece her life back together – get her parents to trust her again, get Mina’s brother Trev to see her in a new light, and, most importantly of all, Sophie must learn to let go of Mina.

Far From You is a murder mystery brilliantly nestled in the centre of a book examining loyalty, love, friendship, guilt, and obsession. Sharpe takes us deeply into the world of a teenager who has suffered extensively – Sophie was in an almost-fatal car crash when she was 14, Mina’s brother was driving – and then piles some more misery on her protagonist. The result is a story about human resilience.

Sharpe structures Far From You with chapters told chronologically in the present, as Sophie leaves rehab and tracks down Mina’s killer, alternating with chapters told out of order from the past, covering the period after Sophie’s car crash to the period just after Mina’s death. Originally, I thought I wouldn’t have much use for the chapters from the past, but they actually give a huge insight into not just Sophie, but also Sophie and Mina’s friendship.

And goodness, is that friendship intense. It’s built not just on two girls getting on, but also on shared experiences (Mina was also in the car crash that hurt Sophie), possibly a bit of guilt, and a bit of possessiveness and obsession. As we flit back and forth through the lives of the girls, we see the things that bind them together, and the things that could possibly pull them apart, and come to learn why Sophie feels it is on her to find Mina’s killer.

Sophie is an interesting character. She’s likeable in parts, and in other parts just barrels into the reader with her forcefulness, so you can’t help but be swept along with her, and trust in her completely. She is, in some ways, acting towards the reader like Mina acted towards her. The times I didn’t like Sophie as much were when I felt she was hurting Trev, because I absolutely loved Trev. He’s a wonderfully sweet, vulnerable, secondary character, the complete opposite of Sophie. He’s suffered as much as she has, just in different ways, and his love for Sophie is built on a bed of guilt.

In addition to being a character study, Far From You is a deft murder mystery which had me guessing until just before the big reveal, when the pieces clicked in my mind as they did in Sophie’s. Sharpe weaves together two crimes and brings them to a satisfying conclusion, even as Sophie knows that finding Mina’s murderer does not give her the immediate closure that’s good for her.

Far From You is a very, very well-written YA book, which has depth of character and depth of emotion. It’ll leave you feeling a bit like you’ve been through the wringer and will stay with you, but, like Sophie, you’ll be able to take a deep breath at the end and start letting go.

How I got this book: From the publisher, Indigo. This did not affect my review.

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