Thursday, July 30, 2020

Be Not Far From Me, by Mindy McGinnis

When Ashley gets separated from her friends and then lost, she has to survive in the wilds of Tennessee for days.  With no proper equipment (and not even a pair of shoes), she stumbles about rushing from one catastrophe to the next.  With some cunning, a great deal of skill, and some luck, she stays alive.  The solitude gives her the opportunity to reflect on her life and the choices she has made that have ended her up in this mess.

I found the circumstances of her predicament utterly implausible.  Childish jealousy drives her into the deep woods without any shoes and she manages -- without footwear and utterly intoxicated -- to wander so far away that in spite of being a trained woodsman she can't find her way back.  She subsequently manages to stumble from Tennessee to Georgia on foot for fifteen days without running across any sign of human (no roads, trails, cabins, powerlines, etc.). 

If you accept those strained premises for an adventure, you get an unusually gritty and intense adventure.  If things like that are to your taste then read away.  I personally don't know if scenes of self-amputation are my cup of tea, but don't let me stop you if you need that in your life.  I admired Ashley's tough and complex personality, but she's not the type of character who is going to let you get too close.  Authentic but the result was no one I really wanted to get to know.  Well-written, but not a story I was ultimately drawn to.

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