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Be Not Far From Me, by Mindy McGinnis.


5 stars

Be Not Far from Me by Mindy McGinnis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just… WOW!

Re the title of this book:
Being a bit rusty on my bible, I had to look up Psalm 22 and, I must say, the excerpt is a very apt title for this mesmerizing story about a young teen having to stay focused and use all of her wilderness skills to survive in an Appalachian forest – and plenty did happen to this incredibly brave, resourceful girl!

For sure I would have been howling “Why have you forsaken me?” on a daily basis in this young woman’s place, but Ashley Hawkins put aside her fears and lamentations and went to work to “save herself.” (Hence the title: Be Not Far from Me” – in this case meant: help me to help myself, which is exactly what Ashley sets out to do once she realizes she has been abandoned in the woods by her friends.)

Ashley awakes the next morning after a party in the woods. Enraged and drunk, she had run blindly into the forest, then stumbled off the path and fell down a steep ravine.

She is alone and severely injured and soon realizes that it will be days before anyone in her group notices that she did not get home at all.

As the story unfolds, we see, via flashbacks, that Ashley’s world is one of generational poverty: there seems to be no way out of her run down trailer in small town Tennessee. This struck me as appalling. It also broke my heart to read that Ashley and her father (who often worked double shifts at a factory) usually went hungry – and yet Ashley fights with everything in her to survive and get back home. Her track and field scholarship was her one way out of that life, but the injury to her foot may have put an end to all of her chances of a better life.

Ashley is beleaguered by constant bad luck, but she rallies every single time! Go, Ashley!
I get what the author is saying here: it takes a certain kind of grit to endure the norm of deprivation, domestic violence and little or no health care. The pervading sense of hopelessness in Appalachian communities made it difficult to believe that anyone could escape from poverty’s clutches: there were so few opportunities available to these people.

The last few chapters were incredibly suspenseful and tense. There was no way I was going to get any sleep until I found out whether Ashley makes it out alive after enduring so much hell! I could not put this book down and I read it all in one day.

I highly recommend this awe-inspiring novel: a solid 5 out of 5 read. I will definitely be searching out more titles by Mindy McGinnis!

View all my reviews5 stars

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