Be Not Far From Me
By Mindy McGinnis
The world is not tame. Ashley knows this truth deep in her bones, more at home with trees overhead than a roof. So when she goes hiking in the Smokies with her friends for a night of partying, the falling dark and creaking trees are second nature to her. But people are not tame either. And when Ashley catches her boyfriend with another girl, drunken rage sends her running into the night, stopped only by a nasty fall into a ravine. Morning brings the realization that she's alone - and far off-trail. Lost in an undisturbed forest and with nothing but the clothes on her back, Ashley must figure out how to survive despite the red streak of infection creeping up her leg.
Regardless of my opinions, I want you to read this if you haven't and make your own judgment of it.
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! ABORT IF YOU HAVENT READ IT YET!
Okay, let me explain once again my rating for this book. See...I have a love-hate relationship with Mindy McGinnis books. Meaning that I either absolutely adore them or absolutely hate them. Or just, eh. Take, for instance, A Madness so Discreet, I loved that book. And Not a drop to drink duology? Best books ever. But on the other hand, take This darkness mine. That book frustrated the life out of me and left me feeling angry at the world. So, yes I do admit I was a bit prejudiced but also my expectations were very high for this book. Like, verryyyy high. Okay, Ashley. You’re in the middle of nowhere for a party full of drunkards where your boyfriend and his ex-girlfriend see each other again and sparks fly between the two. You know that those sparks took fire but were too dang naïve to think, “ They would NOT cheat on me”,
"Duke loooves me too much.” Girl, you literally claim (plenty of times) you are more sensible and clear-headed than most like no, no. And then (being as ‘sensible’ as she is. Pls don’t drink, kids) dear Ashley bumblebee here decides to ‘turn up’ IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS. In what part of the forest survival manual did she get the idea to do that? After alllll that, she goes to sleep and lo and behold she needs to go pee. Whilst being drunk. Don’t worry, it gets even better. While she is in the woods doing her thang the author continues to implement memories of how to act and how to do your thang in the forest. So, yeah. She cleans out her tank (metaphorically. Oh and don’t forget, she’s in her period.) Ashley starts to trek back into her tent when she hears a couple of sounds. Sounds she know quite well. Sound she knows that the woods did not create. Cue scene of dear Duke having a situation with Nicole. She intervenes, gasps, get her heartbroken. (You know, the usual things that happen when you walk in on your boyfriend and another chick) Nicole escapes faster than the rabbit in Looney Tunes and leaves Duke to handle it all on his own. Baby boy gets his face punched in. Cue passage of how he was abused by his dad and he knows he deserves it, so he sits there waiting for the rest. Ashley runs. She literally runs. With alcohol in her system. Knowing she is wrong. She runs. Lord give me strength. Another day, another frustrating chapter where she inspects her wounds and realizes half of her foot is a mangled mess. She has a tiny existential crisis but no, she is strong, she is smart (sooo smart) she will get out of the woods. So starts the beautiful background music added by moi.
“One way or another, I'm gonna find ya
I'm gonna get ya, get ya, get ya, get ya
One way or another, I'm gonna win ya
I'm gonna get ya, get ya, get ya, get ya an infection. That’s what miss smart is gonna get. An infection, that's what she's gonna get. Other than that, I actually really appreciated her will to stay alive but it mostly depressed me. Her morose view of life, her disregard for the people she has around her. Ugh. Trust me when I say I unquestionably admire book protagonist that are independent warriors but like, her insane sense of pride got on my nerves. One of the many awesome book protagonists that make me feel proud about being of the female population is from the book 'Silverlegs 1: Seed of Rage' ( seriously, you gotta read it.) Dear Ashley suffers, bleeds, suffers some more. She eats maggots and worms. She tries to digest a fish she didn't bite and later on it literally flops out alive. *full-body shudder* She is desperate for shelter and actual food that you can properly decompose in your belly not mentioning she still has her period (which in and of itself is brave. I would've been curled up with an imaginary hot water pack) and her leg is hurting something fierce. I know, I thank books that I'm so antisocial you'll not find me even 5 meters from a forest unless it's in my backyard and even that has its limits. As the book progresses she remembers all the lessons Davey Beet bestowed upon her when she was a puny middle grader. Obviously, later on, we find out that she had a major crush on him. Davey Beet got lost in the woods a couple of years back too after getting his heart pulverized by the supposed 'love of his life', so she wondered if she was ever going to see him again. Call me a lovesick mutt but forgive me if I thought they were going to find each other and fall in love. It was the perfect scenario, okay? Lost in the woods, no food, no water, a half emaciated foot, and all of a sudden a flash of blinding white fur. A beautiful wolf. But wait were those eyes, Davey Beets? Was that the smell of his body wash? And so begins an epic werewolf romance. Full of gore and lovely smells. * Cue maniac laugh* Oh gosh, what is WRONG with me?! Okay back to the book. Ashley finds a meth lab. A stinky, disgusting meth lab in which she later decides to amputate part of her foot with a piece of lint. She does that. Gets high on oxy. Puts the amputated part in a Ziploc bag. Uses that to attract a mama possum which she kills. And gets on her way. She is determined to survive. Great for you, girl. In the next few chapters, any hope I had for romance was eradicated when she found Davey Beets's tent. Long story short... he was dead. Amazing. She moves on...walks and walks and walks some more until she finds cables. Electric cables! She starts screaming and yelling for help. And she is rushed to the hospital where she grows stronger and becomes a little nicer. Enter Duke. He literally visits her and has the NERVE to have tears in his eyes. Ashley tells him to go where the sun doesn't shine and all is well once again.
Her resilience was astounding. It truly was inspiring.
The seemingly seamless way the author integrated memories with the present.
And finally, the end. She went back to the forest in search of Davey Beets's body. Such a sweet outcome of her tragedy.
I would like to mention once more that it wasn't that the book was necessarily bad it just wasn't as good as I hoped. But I really don't know why. Maybe I wasn't in the mood.