FICTION

Be Not Far from Me

HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Mar. 2020. 240p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062561626.
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Gr 10 Up–Seventeen-year-old Ashley is comfortable in the Tennessee wilderness, having grown up camping, hiking, and hunting in the Smokies. Her mother left when she was young, and while her father could not always afford to buy food or clothes, he did teach her survival skills. In Ashley’s own words, she’s on everyone’s apocalypse-survival team. One summer night, Ashley and her friends hike into the wilderness to throw a party deep in the Smokies. In their remote small town, friendships are based more on geography than common interests, and Ashley quickly becomes annoyed by and insecure about the actions of some of the people at the party. When she stumbles upon her boyfriend having sex with his ex-girlfriend in the woods, Ashley takes off running. Drunk, devastated, and shoeless, Ashley sustains a serious injury before passing out. When she wakes, she realizes that she is lost in the wilderness without any supplies, and it will be days before anyone realizes that she’s in trouble. She begins the journey to find her way home, contending with infection, starvation, thirst, and wild animals along the way. McGinnis is known for writing tough female protagonists and gritty realism, and she holds nothing back in this latest novel. Ashley is angry, vulnerable, smart, and compelling, and her journey is marked by setbacks, terror, and plenty of gross-out moments.
VERDICT This captivating, fast-paced novel is Hatchet for an older crowd. Highly recommended where adventure and survival fiction are popular.

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