BE NOT FAR FROM ME by MINDY MCGINNIS
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
Be Not Far from Me is Mindy McGinnis’s latest release, and the third book I’ve reviewed for the library. It’s safe to say that I enjoy Mindy’s books and never pass up the chance to read what she has to offer. None of Mindy’s books are the same in terms of concept, but their intensity never wanes. This latest offering is no different, a harrowing survival story of one girl versus the woods she thought she loved. It’s a relatively short book, and I read it in the span of two days—which is pretty quick for me, considering.
I’ll spoil things for you now: I loved Be Not Far From Me. I loved it so much
and wouldn’t mind seeing it be made as a Netflix movie one day soon.
Here’s why it’s earning so much praise:
Be Not Far From Me has that classic Mindy McGinnis setup to it. One rough-around-the-edges girl and her friends go camping in the Tennessee side of the Great Smokey Mountains. One night, our main character, Ashley, gets a little drunk and finds her boyfriend, Duke, cheating on her. Rightfully horrified and not entirely in control of herself, Ashley flees into the wilderness wearing nothing but jeans and a t-shirt. She ends up falling down a ravine, cutting her foot in the process. The story that follows is Ashley’s mission to survive despite starvation, infection, and the elements.
One thing I loved about this book was how compulsively readable it was. Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. Split into days as opposed to chapters, the novel chronicles the whole fifteen days Ashley is missing. Her survival is never pretty, and McGinnis doesn’t hold back when it comes to the gory details. Ashley’s mangled foot is a major part of the story, and there’s even a portion where she has to cut pieces of it off. I cringed reading every word, but I couldn’t look away, too enraptured by the story McGinnis had weaved. If you’re looking for an escape, this book is perfect. It utterly transports the reader to the woods where Ashley wanders, and the thing about this story is that you never quite know how it’s going to end. It’s written in such a way that a happy ending isn’t guaranteed. Is Ashley going to make it out of the woods or no?
Ashley herself is another reason why I enjoyed this book. She’s poor and lives in a trailer with her dad, and much of her character development comes from the fact that she’s not well off. I enjoyed this different perspective on a YA heroine, and admired and rough Ashley is. She’s not nice and not particularly “feminine,” making her a fascinating and refreshing change of pace.
Be Not Far from Me is a beautifully written novel and a terrifying story, and I loved every second of it.