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Parents' Guide to

As Far As You'll Take Me

By JK Sooja, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

U.S. teen boy falls for Londoner in first-love gay romance.

Book Phil Stamper Romance 2021
As Far As You'll Take Me Poster Image

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Is It Any Good?

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Phil Stamper's delightful second novel features an awkward but confident gay teen boy who bravely moves to another country in hopes of a freer and more comfortable life performing music. As Far As You'll Take Me is brave for championing a lead character who suffers from social anxiety that causes him to hide if things get too crazy, as well as from an eating disorder that causes him to pass out, nap constantly, and fret over the dietary info of everything he eats. (Hopefully, in the future, Stamper will be able to offer more in the way of how to deal with these conditions better, talk about them more, and live a better life despite them.) Still, Marty is incredibly self-reflexive and thoughtful about the ways in which others are feeling and thinking, for better and for worse. These ingredients make for a strong but unconventional lead character who's easy to get behind and root for.

The depth and fullness of the characters (including London itself) Marty encounters also impresses. There are varied characters who have clearly different personalities, backgrounds, and histories with other characters, which leads to different friendship dynamics and believable social politics. Add in the music school's politics of chair positionings and student "value," notable descriptions of London, Cardiff, Florence, and other locations, and character arcs that matter, and you have a deep and robust world for Marty to discover. Also, the book directly comments on anti-gay sentiment and policies, traumatic coming-out stories, social anxiety, eating disorders, toxic relationships, and respecting your body. Marty endures a painful first love but handles it remarkably well, which also represents a model way of handling disappointment in the game of love. The novel could have had a more frank discussion of the need for consent, but the character's reaction to an unwanted advance is convincing and shows resilience.

Book Details

  • Author: Phil Stamper
  • Genre: Romance
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
  • Publication date: February 9, 2021
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
  • Number of pages: 320
  • Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: June 5, 2022

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