Be Not Far From Me – Mindy McGinnis – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 3 March 2020
The world is not tame.
Ashley knows this truth deep in her bones, more at home with trees overhead than a roof. So when she goes hiking in the Smokies with her friends for a night of partying, the falling dark and creaking trees are second nature to her. But people are not tame either. And when Ashley catches her boyfriend with another girl, drunken rage sends her running into the night, stopped only by a nasty fall into a ravine. Morning brings the realization that she’s alone – and far off trail. Lost in undisturbed forest and with nothing but the clothes on her back, Ashley must figure out how to survive despite the red streak of infection creeping up her leg.
Mindy McGinnis has once again crafted a thrilling, edgy, and confrontational book that is as scary as it is compelling. When a girl is pushed to the very limits, what will she do to survive? Unlike many other survival adventure novels that I have read where the protagonist seems to have excellent luck and a natural ability to survive, Be Not Far From Me holds nothing back. Ashley faces everything from betrayal, to serious injuries, and the harsh realities of life and death. You need a strong stomach to read this book, but its brutal honesty is refreshing.
Ashley knows how to survive. Unlike her friends, she knows what it is like to go hungry, hunt for her food, and heal injuries without trips to the doctors. Walking through the woods gives her freedom. When Ashley and a group of her classmates hold a party in the woods, she has a bad feeling. But nothing could prepare her for seeing her boyfriend in the arms of another girl. Drunk and upset, she runs. Separated from the group, injured and outside of the area she is familiar with, Ashley knows it will take everything she has to survive.
Be Not Far From Me feels like it could be a true story. It has the sort of events that are so extreme and so brutal that it feels like it could only be real. Ashley faces some pretty touch decisions as she tries to make her way back to safety.
As Ashley fights to survive, as she drifts in and out of consciousness, she remembers sections from her past. So, while the book is set entirely in the woods, the reader learns a lot about her home life, friends, family, beliefs, relationships and even hopes for her future. Be Not Far From Me is a sad book, but there is no denying Ashley’s strength and resilience. And talk about girl power. She is not afraid to correct her mistakes or stand up for herself.
Perfect for readers looking for a female-driven YA adventure novel.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Genre: Adventure, thriller.
Themes: Survival, family, relationships, dating and sex, cheating, hunting, friendships, survival techniques, injuries.
Reading age guide: Ages 14/15 and up. (Publishers say 13 and up)
Advisory: Strong sexual references, references to sexual relationships, cheating and sex with some details. Frequent coarse language, f*** (31), sh** (52), as***** (3), bit** (9, pi** (17), di** (1), wh*** (1). References to injuries, death, hunting.
Published: 3 March 2020 by Katherine Tegen Books.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 240 pages.