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Friday, August 1, 2014

First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day

US book cover for "Far from You"

by Dave Amaditz and
Marcy Collier

As summer is winding down, Marcy and I still have a lot more on our reading list. If you’re looking for a terrific debut novel, check out our post today for a book we couldn’t put down.

Welcome to August’s version of - First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day. In this monthly series, we ask five simple questions about a debut novel that will hopefully entice anyone reading this post to pick up the novel and read it themselves, and/or give them at a glance some insight into the author's writing style and voice as well as how some of the characters might think or act. We do this by presenting, first, answers to our Five Favorite Things, followed by the author's answers in a follow-up post.

This month we're pleased to highlight debut YA novelist, Tess Sharpe and her novel, Far From You. To describe the story in one word… Wow! To describe the story in a few sentences… It’s a love story, a murder mystery, and the quest for a young girl, Sophie, to begin the search for who she is - - without the help of her best friend, who has been murdered.

1) What is your favorite line or paragraph from the novel as it relates to the main character's development and/or growth?

Dave – As with Marcy (see her answer below) I chose a mantra that is repeated throughout the novel. To me, this is another thing that helped define Sophie… who she is and what motivates her.

This section comes from early in the novel when Sophie is riding with her aunt, Macy, a bounty hunter. Mina is the name of Sophie’s best friend who was murdered.

Macy taps her fingers against the steering wheel. She’s itching to get going, to chase down that guy and put him in jail where he belongs.

I know that feeling, that drive for justice. All the women in my family have it. Macy’s is wrapped up in the chase, in the hard and fast and brutal judgment, and Mom’s is wrapped up in rules and laws and juries, the courtroom her chosen battlefield.

Mine is wrapped up in Mina, magnified by her, defined by her, existing because of her.

Marcy – This mantra is repeated over and over (days and months changing and increasing) throughout the novel. For me, this helped carry Sophie and her story through the book. If she focused on how long she had been drug-free and stayed clean, she might be able to get through all of the awful things that were happening in her life.

Six months. Five days. Ten hours.

That’s how long I’ve been clean, and I repeat it over and over to myself. As long as I focus on that, as long as I’m committed to making that number rise, minute by minute, day by day, I’m going to be okay. I have to be.

2) What is your favorite chapter ending or cliffhanger?

Dave - I think I could’ve listed every chapter ending because they were all so tense and they all made me want to keep reading. Plus, there were so many cliffhangers throughout the story that made me sit on the edge of my seat. And yes, I had on my list the one Marcy picked below, so I won’t list that. And I won’t list the one that was my very favorite because it’s at the end of the book and will give away the story. So I’ll pick another. I think you’ll like it, too.

A click. It’s familiar. Dread surges through me. I’m blocking Trev. Maybe I can save him, like I should’ve saved her. I spin around, instinctually, toward the noise, and for the second time in my life, I’m looking down the barrel of a gun.

Marcy – Usually I go for the cliffhanger ending, but this time, I chose the tearjerker. I won’t go into details. You’ll have to read the novel to find out!

I curl my fingers around the ring so tightly, I’m surprised the word stamped into the silver doesn’t carve its way into me the way she did.

3) Who is your favorite secondary character and why?

Dave – There are so many great secondary characters in this story. All have such strong personalities. All are so believable in everything they do. I went back and forth between picking Mina and Trev (as well as Rachael for a while, too). In the end, however, I settled on Mina. I hope this short passage helps to explain why.

“Oh, Soph.” Mina practically deflates. She sits down next to me. “What happened to you was horrible,” she says. “Beyond horrible. And it isn’t fair or right that Trev and I came out of it fine and you…” She trails off. “But gross?” She presses her hand against my heart. Her thumb brushes up against the edge of the scar on my chest. “This isn’t gross. You know what I think when I see this?”

I shake my head.

Her voice drops. She’s whispering, a secret for just the two of us: “I think about how strong you are. You didn’t stop fighting, even when your heart stopped. You came back.”

Marcy – I chose Rachael as my favorite secondary character. Rachael is the one who finds Sophie after she witnesses the murder of her best friend Mina. Rachael is an offbeat character who genuinely wants to help Sophie. She always believes her new friend and is never judgmental. This scene takes place when Sophie comes to Rachel’s house and asks for help in solving Mina’s murder. These two paragraphs show how Sophie sees Rachael.

She smiles, a big stretch that shows all of her teeth, so genuine it almost hurts. I don’t think I can even remember how to smile like that.

There’s a determination in Rachael that I’ve never seen before. She has conviction. In herself, in what she wants, in what she believes. I want to be like that. To be sure of myself. Rachel had stuck around when she didn’t have to. When everyone else, everyone who’s know me forever, had turned their backs. That means more to me than anything.

4) What is your favorite line or paragraph of description?

Dave – Again, there are so many to choose from, but I picked this particular passage from early in the novel because it says so much about the conflicted feelings Sophie experienced. And for me, anyhow, and without giving too much away, was a much more powerful passage once I read further into the story. (Sophie is with Trev, Mina’s brother and close friend since early childhood.)

I let myself be touched. Kissed. Undressed and eased back onto the wooden floor scarred with the remnants of our childhood.

I let myself feel it. Allow his skin to sink into mine.

I let myself because this is exactly what I need: this terrible idea, this beautiful, messy distraction.

And if somewhere in the middle both of our faces are wet with tears, it doesn’t matter so much. We’re doing this for all the wrong reasons, anyway.

Later, I stare at his face in the moonlight and wonder if he can tell that I kissed him like I already know the shape of his lips. Like I’ve mapped them in my mind, in another life. Learned them from another person who shared his eyes and nose and mouth, but who is never coming back.

Marcy – This powerful paragraph left a punch and a strong image in my mind that haunted me until the end of the story.

The second time, I remember everything. The beam of the car’s brights. The shooter’s eyes shining at us through his mask. How steady his finger is on the trigger. Mina’s hand clutching mine, our nails digging into each other’s flesh.

After, I’ll trace my fingers over those bloody half-moon marks and realize they’re all I have left of her.

5) What is your favorite line of dialogue?

Dave – This line, well, actually two lines, are from the end of the novel. A short discourse between Sophie and her mom.

“That can’t be an excuse,” I say. “There can’t be any excuses. Every single therapist you’ve sent me to will tell you that. I’m an addict. I’ll always be an addict. Just like I’ll always be crippled. And you’ve never been okay with either. I am. It took me a long time, but I am. You need to be, too.”

“I’m okay with who you are, Sophie,” she says. “I love who you are. I love you no matter what.”

Marcy – Sophie has a strained relationship with her mother and isn’t afraid to be blunt sometimes when talking with her.

“You want me to play the gimp card?” I cut in, and she flinches like I’ve slapped her.

To read more about Tess Sharpe’s debut YA novel Far From You please go to:

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