My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Reviewer’s note – I am an independent writer. I am also a freelance reviewer for Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. What this basically means is that I am on an email list, and the publisher notifies me of new releases. If I see a book that I like, they will send me a copy. In other words, I choose the book that I wish to read and I write a review and post it on my websites. My reviews are based solely on the merits of the book, and I receive no remuneration from the publisher or author, other than a copy of the book, in exchange for posting a review on my blogs. I also post my reviews on GoodReads. The following is my review of Nicole Baart’s Far From Here. Thank you – vmls)
Nicole Baart has written an inspiring story of hope and human frailty, weaving a rich tapestry with the finely crafted, beautiful prose we have come to expect from this immensely talented writer, and the all too realistically drawn characters that can only come from someone with the unique and compassionate understanding of the human condition that Nicole has. If we at times are made to feel a bit uncomfortable at something one of her characters says or does, it is only a tribute to Nicole’s incredible skill as both writer and storyteller.
No spoilers here… I promise (well, maybe just a tiny bit). Far From Here is more than just a book of roughly 340 pages… it is an experience one cannot fully appreciate through the eyes or words of another. I do not use the phrase ‘must-read’ lightly, but never has it been more apt than with Far From Here. Nicole Baart’s latest novel will take you on a journey of joy, pain, happiness and sorrow… a journey of discovery… of revelation… that will leave you healed and renewed… with new hope and promise.
Okay, maybe I will ‘spoil’ it a little… this story is going to make you cry, so grab a big box of Kleenex!
What do you do when your whole world turns on one person, and one day that person is gone?
What do you do when your happy little, perfect world is tilted on its axis… and the life that you knew shatters into a thousand pieces… and you watch helplessly as all those pieces slide away.
Far From Here is a story of love and loss… the journey between the two and the journey through the aftermath… a search for truth… for redemption… a search for ‘self’, not the person we thought we were or the person [we let] someone else define us as.
Redemption is a journey for which the only roadmap is our heart. It is not always an easy journey, navigating around and through the scars and fissures the life lost has left behind. And as Danica will come to realize… you can’t find redemption in an ‘echo’ of the past.
But… I’m getting ahead of the story…
Danica Reese meets the ‘boy of her dreams’, the one who makes her soul take flight, when she is sixteen. Etsell Greene is a young man with an imperfect, through no fault of his own, past… not unlike Danica’s in some respects. But, broken families don’t always leave broken children… just imperfect children. Ell and Dani aren’t perfect, but in each other they come as close as two people can. Or, so Danica comes to believe.
The two seem oddly suited for each other, given Ell’s deep love for flying and Dani’s almost pathological hatred of flying. But… as some of us know all too well… the heart wants what the heart wants, and it won’t be denied.
Danica and Etsell are married three years later and for the next seven years build a life for themselves, settling into the ‘routine’ of married life. It’s not a perfect life, but love smoothes over the little bumps and detours.
Love is also at times, painfully blind.
One of those ‘bumps’ the two must work through is Ell’s decision to go to Alaska for a period of weeks to help out a pilot friend. The decision is a unilateral one, but not the first one in their relationship, and the two find a way to work through it.
Little do either realize that their little ‘Xanadu’ is about to be turned inside out.
Ell’s last flight turns into one of ‘no return’ and Danica’s life suddenly stalls, falling into a tailspin.
Over the next several weeks, Dani is forced to re-examine her marriage and try to come to terms with the almost unbearable questions her husband’s disappearance has raised. And when she learns that Ell was not alone on that last flight, Dani’s carefully crafted life is revealed to be little more than a house of sand, and the ‘wind’ of Ell’s disappearance scatters it… possibly irrevocably.
Out of the wreckage and all the emotions that come with loss – the loss of trust, fidelity, companionship, self – Danica slowly begins to rebuild her life, and in doing so reconnects with her mother and sisters, gaining new insight into herself and her family. Nicole narrates this in an incredibly profound and moving telling… the resilience of mother and daughters… sisters… the love that was always there and is now made stronger through their shared adversities.
One evening, with [almost] all of the women in Danica’s life gathered around her, a knock comes at the front door…
Who is at the door? Do they bring news… good or bad, it doesn’t matter… do they bring new hope, or only fresh pain?
You’re going to hate me, but I am stopping here. As I mentioned earlier, Far From Here is a ‘must-read’. Go buy the book, borrow it from a friend… write me and I will loan you my copy…
But… read this book!
Far From Here is about more than just the relationship between two people… much, much more.
I will close with this…
I met my [now] wife, Christina, on my 21st birthday… five and a half years ago. When we first met, my life was in tatters… I had no expectation of celebrating a 22nd birthday. But Tina didn’t see it that way. She was the gravity that pulled the torn pieces of my life back together and made me whole again.
Will Danica find her gravity?
Thank you.Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
11 February 2012
Cannon Beach, Oregon