This book is typical of the coming-of-age narrative, with a teenager: experimenting with love and sex, feeling physically inadequate, struggling with peer friendships and having parents that don’t understand him. The main character, Marty goes through this rather painful process in a country other than his own, as he doesn’t feel able to be himself in small town America. Very few teenagers survive adolescence without a few scars and because Marty is gay with conservative and religious parents, his experience is more complex than most heterosexual adolescents.
The narrative framework is a bit irritating with the intrusion of diary entries from a year before, interleaved with Marty's present experience. Because so much of the story is focused on Marty’s internal dialogue, the reader can start to wish that Marty would just get out of his head and actually do something. The diary entries can feel like just more obsessive thinking. On the other hand, this is probably very realistic and many young adults would be able to relate to his emotional and mental state, and particularly LGBTQ youth, who often do not feel validated by mainstream society. This book earns its place in school libraries, even if only to help those teenagers, who struggle against prejudice in the world, to live their truth.
Title: As Far As You’ll Take Me
Author: Phil Stamper
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
ISBN: 978-1-5266- 3072-8
Age Range: Young Adult
Advisory warnings: Sexual relationships, homophobia, eating disorders, toxic relationships - mostly handled very well
Reviewer: Carola Crawford, English teacher, Karanga Mai Young Parents’ College
How are you recommending this book? Recommended
Opening sentence: As it turns out, I am pretty good at lying.
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