Author: Marina Gessner
Find the author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads
Publication date: October 20th 2015
Source: Penguin Canada (thank you!)
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.
The Distance From Me To You is a book for people who like no-nonsense writing and fast pacing. It’s a straightforward look at stubborn, independent McKenna, a 17-year old who decides to hike the entire Appalachian Trail after high school. Without her parents knowing, McKenna decides to go it alone after being abandoned at the last moment by her best friend. Along the way, she meets and falls in love with thru hiker, Sam, who is trying to outrun his very broken home life.
The bulk of this book deals with Sam’s and McKenna’s relationship and his belief that McKenna is too much of a good girl for him, while McKenna, a pretty unemotional person, is dealing with the fear of being in love for the first time.
I found the relationship between McKenna and Sam to be too much insta-love, and not strong enough to carry the story. Part of the issue was the writing, which was mostly in declarative sentences (“She did this. Then she did this”). The lack of variation in the writing made me feel like I was being told, not shown the relationship, and that made it difficult to believe in the romance.
Because of the declarative nature of the sentences, I found it hard to connect with even the characters on their own. Both were prickly and hard to read (which I think was an authorial choice to show how they only opened up with one another) and that left me feeling unengaged.
I didn’t feel any real depth or real character development until the back third of the novel, when Sam and McKenna are faced with real dangers. I was truly frightened for them at the end – I whipped through the last 150 pages, terrified, but also frustrated with the lack of plot up until that point. This feeling was exacerbated by the author introducing other viewpoints into the narrative randomly towards the end. It was often jarring for me to get those viewpoints in the middle of what was really Sam and McKenna’s story at that point.
Hiking & Outdoors-y-ness: I love hiking, and the descriptions of the Appalachian Trail really made me want to go get a pair of hiking boots – it felt realistically difficult and rewarding. That said, I don’t think I could take on six months of hiking without my family and friends!
The Final Word:
The Distance From Me to You was a page-turner, but not a memorable read for me. The trail and hiking information was interesting, and the conclusion was realistic and well done. But with so much riding on the characters, and not enough development, The Distance From Me to You was definitely just a pass for me.
THE DISTANCE FROM ME TO YOU comes out on Tuesday. Are you interested in reading it? Have you seen Wild or read other wilderness adventure books? What was your favourite?