Publishing Info: October 20, 2015 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 11, 2015
Wild meets Endless Love in this multilayered story of love, survival, and self-discovery.
McKenna Berney is a lucky girl. She has a loving family and has been accepted to college for the fall. But McKenna has a different goal in mind: much to the chagrin of her parents, she defers her college acceptance to hike the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia with her best friend. And when her friend backs out, McKenna is determined to go through with the dangerous trip on her own. While on the Trail, she meets Sam. Having skipped out on an abusive dad and quit school, Sam has found a brief respite on the Trail, where everyone’s a drifter, at least temporarily.
Despite lives headed in opposite directions, McKenna and Sam fall in love on an emotionally charged journey of dizzying highs and devastating lows. When their punch-drunk love leads them off the trail, McKenna has to persevere in a way she never thought possible to beat the odds or risk both their lives.
I don’t know if I’d go as far as saying I’m a nature girl but I’m definitely a camping girl! I used to go all the time with my family and now my husband and I go camping several times a year, always enjoying backwoods/primitive camping. When I heard about THE DISTANCE FROM ME TO YOU and how it took place on the Appalachian Trail, I knew I had to pick it up! Thanks to Penguin Teen, I obtained a review copy and immediately tore in!
THE DISTANCE FROM ME TO YOU was a really interesting book and it really made me think back on what kind of person I was at McKenna’s age. I definitely didn’t have the determination to do something like make a full hike from Maine to Georgia on the Appalachian Trail and I really didn’t have her drive. (I also wonder if I even have that drive as an adult.) It was so great to see McKenna’s determination to achieve her goals and I really admired how much it meant to her! That being said, I also think it’s kind of crazy to allow two seventeen-year-old girls to make that trip much less witnessing McKenna doing it by herself… Though I guess that was a serious point the book was making!
Many people along the trail wrote McKenna off as too young or because she was a girl hiking the trail alone and immediately assumed she needed help or couldn’t do it on her own. It was a really interesting thing to think about. If that was my kid, there’s no way I would allow them to go on that trip at seventeen — with or without a friend, male or female. I remember how I was at seventeen and I don’t think I was immature but I think that’s a really, really big thing for a teenager to take on. Like, I don’t know if I’d be ready for that now. We go camping and it’s a pretty big deal to make sure we make the proper preparations for possibly injuries, encounters with animals, and having enough food and drink. Having some of that knowledge already made it hard at times to see McKenna flounder or flub when it came to some camping and/or survival basics. Then again, she’s also pretty much staying on a trail and not venturing off into the woods so chances are that she wouldn’t run into too many actual survival situations.
Aside from experience in the wilderness, the book also addressed McKenna taking this trip as a young female on her own. I am all for girl power and McKenna taking this trip head on by herself and I loved how empowering it was too… But I wouldn’t want anyone to go on this trip alone. That’s a very long way and a very long time to be away from home if something happens — whether that’s animal or human encounter — and you open yourself up to those dangers by where you are and what you’re doing, it’s incredibly important to have someone by your side (and again, male or female, I don’t care. It’s always best to do things like this with a buddy, especially if you don’t have that experience yet). It just really made me put myself in that situation and wonder how I would do and what I might encounter. It was a great experience to put myself in McKenna’s shoes!
The book was in third person but focused strongly on McKenna for a few chapters until Sam’s POV popped into the book about 50 pages in! I was surprised and a little thrown to have a new focus but also excited because sometimes multiple POVs really bring something special to a book. I was really glad to have gotten to know Sam throughout the book from his perspective and I think that really helped me connect to him as a character!
The book overall was a good read for me but never quite hit amazing like I had hoped. The first quarter of the book felt like a lot of telling. There were a lot of details about McKenna on the trail but nothing was quite happening yet. Things started to pick up once Sam came onto the scene and then there was more of a dialogue going instead of just McKenna’s actions and thoughts. I felt like the book had a steady pace from then on and really started to take off after the first hundred pages. It took a while for me to warm up to it but I really enjoyed the second half and the ending quite a bit!
I was very on and off with the romance. I was really excited for McKenna and Sam to meet and I really enjoyed watching them get to know each other. Being two people hiking the trail solo, the ended up spending a lot of time together once they joined up but it also felt a bit awkward how quickly things escalated. I suppose being out there on your own and only having one other person as a constant companion really can do that for you but as much as I love camping and hiking, it’s not very sexy as you’re living it so it didn’t feel like a sexy situation when things started to heat up.
I really, really enjoyed how the book ended and it really pulled everything together for me. I wasn’t sure how everything was going to conclude (after a very suspenseful few chapters, I might add!) and how these two people from very different places would stay together… or drift apart. I was trying to think of a happy ending that allowed both characters to pursue their dreams, continue on with life, and not separate at the end of this journey, leaving me (and probably other readers) on a sad note. I won’t reveal how it wraps up but I really thought Marina Gessner did a great job tying it all together! I was very impressed.
THE DISTANCE FROM ME TO YOU didn’t quite pan out like I had expected but it was good read overall! Some things didn’t quite live up to what I was hoping and others exceeded my expectations to even out to an overall good book. I think a problem I have with books taking place in the wilderness/camping is a personal issue — it’s more fun for me to live it than read it! — so as much as I love it, maybe it’s not a subject I should continue to seek out in my reading. I hope readers enjoy McKenna’s journey as much as I did! I thought it was well-done and it really made me reflect on my own experiences all throughout the book.
“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!
McKenna // Character Obsessions: The trail, goals, completing her hike, romance.
I actually wasn’t a huge fan of McKenna. I didn’t dislike her but I just didn’t connect with her as much as I had hoped. She felt very naive in some ways and very mature in others but it was sort of in ways that are the opposite of me! Her character also fell a little flat for me.
Sam // Character Obsessions: Running, traveling, finding a place.
I think I connected with Sam a bit more than McKenna. He seemed a bit easier to figure out and follow. There were a few times I just wanted to shake him and he wasn’t as swoony as I had hoped but I really enjoyed getting to know him!
Kept Me Hooked On: Outdoor/wilderness reads. I honestly can’t tell if it’s the way the books are shaped or if it’s just me — I keep craving these books about the outdoors and hiking and camping but I never seem to quite click with them. It does put me in the mood for more though!
Left Me Wanting More: Feeling. For as much as was going on, I didn’t really feel personally invested like I had hoped.
This is a hard one! I really enjoyed the ending but I struggled with the pacing in the beginning and some in the middle. The characters were a bit middle-of-the-road for me. The action towards the end was great and I loved how the book ended. Would I recommend it? I’m not entirely sure! It was a good read but didn’t quite knock me over.
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(Click the cover to see my review!)