Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Joy Ride + a Fair Day = Something Much More

The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson
4Q 3P; Audience: J/S)

October 19th has always had a special significance for Destiny Faraday. It's her birthday. It's her mother's birthday, too. It's the day she first got sent away to boarding school (that was ten long years ago). It's the day that her aunt always comes to visit her. Since her family has virtually ignored her for all of those ten years, the visits from her aunt are highly anticipated events. Or at least, they're as anticipated as Destiny will allow herself to be, since she's practiced for years not to let herself expect or hope for anything. But this year, her aunt can't come, and Destiny lets herself get angry enough to wish, just for once, for one fair day, a day where everything happens the way it should happen. When a pink convertible with keys in the ignition (and money in the glove compartment) appears on the school lawn, it seems as though it's practically inviting her to jump in. The problem is, she can't drive. But she knows somebody who can, and he's already in trouble. So...

And thus begins an unplanned and unauthorized car trip. Just Destiny and three of her classmates: the new boy who intrigues her, the always-rational boy who exasperates her, and the too-cheery dormmate who is always friendly despite Destiny's attempts to push her away. They, too, feel a need for one fair day. What they get is a day full of surprises, some small and some shocking. At the end of the day, what Destiny gets is more than she dared let herself hope for. From now on, October 19th will be the day her life started again.

This was a quick read, but I think that's a little deceptive. This is probably a book that would be worth going back to read a second time, just to notice the small details and nuances that were easy to miss the first time through. Like Christopher Wooding, there have been times when I just haven't gotten Mary Pearson (David v. God and Scribbler of Dreams). But The Adoration of Jenna Fox deserved most of the acclaim it got, and I absolutely loved (and cried over) A Room on Lorelei Street. I'm becoming a convert.

Who can't relate to wanting a day that everything goes right, especially when so much is actually going wrong? The book has a good hook right there. I liked the feel of this book. I really enjoyed some of the quiet moments, particularly those when Destiny and Seth were beginning to connect. The lamb (oops, my bad: the lambadoodle) purely and simply made me smile. And I thought the gradual bonding, coupled as it was with Destiny's gradual realization (mostly through watching Aiden and Mira interact) that her perceptions of the way things are may need to be adjusted, was well done. Those lighter moments were nicely interwoven with darker tones. It's clear that there's something disturbing going on in Destiny's life. What, after all, could a seven-year-old girl have done to make her parents send her away and refuse to let her come home for all these years? Why is she so overwhelmingly guilty and so desperately determined not to let herself get close to anyone? To be honest, I was ahead of the game figuring out at least some of that. But seeing how it all played out was still quite satisfying and cathartic. I appreciated how everything that went into this one fair day, whether it was something as big as meeting the President or as small as a touch of a hand, helped bring Destiny to the point where she could begin to accept the truth and move on in a healthier direction.

While I'm going to tag this as realistic fiction, that's not strictly accurate. There's just enough of a hint of the supernatural, or something akin to it, to intrigue. At the very least, destiny is at work in this story of the carefully-named Destiny Faraday.


  1. I'm with you that this is a special book. Not so much in the story, though that's well done, but in the "Feel" of the book. I cried at the end and thought how it wasn't what I expected but I liked it anyway!

  2. Yes, it's definitely the feel of the book that has stayed with me the most. I suspect when I booktalk it in years to come, I may struggle with that a bit. It's hard to put that feeling into words!

  3. Exactly. I keep trying to find the right teen to give this book to, and it's kind of difficult. When the time is right, I suppose...


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