Be Not Far from Me
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mindy McGinnis' novel Be Not Far from Me is narrated by Ashley Hawkins, a tough, stubborn, don't-even-think-about-messing-with-me teen. Ashley and her friends are celebrating the beginning of summer break with a camping trip into the Smoky Mountains. That night, she overhears her boyfriend having sex with an old girlfriend, and after confronting them, Ashley bolts from camp and runs so far away that she can't find her way back. To make things even worse, she's mangled her foot in a fall. Ashley must now use her considerable outdoor skills to survive a harrowing 15 days lost in the mountains. There's a fair amount of profanity ("f--k," "s--t," "bitch"), and Ashley has a long history of punching people she feels have done her or someone else wrong. A character is shot with buckshot. Ashley's mother smacks her across her mouth, and a character is beaten unconscious by drug dealers. An animal is killed in a graphic way that might disturb some readers. There's a gory action taken in response to an injury. Teens get drunk on beer and smoke weed. A character is hired to guard her uncle's meth lab.
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What's the Story?
Ashley Hawkins, the narrator of BE NOT FAR FROM ME, lives in a trailer with a single father who works double shifts, and knows what it is to be hungry. But that's all about to change, as she's won a cross-country scholarship to college. To celebrate the end of school, she and several of her girlfriends hike up to a campsite in the Smoky Mountains for "boys and beer." One of those boys is her boyfriend, Duke. But Duke's old girlfriend has shown up as well, and later that night, Ashley overhears them having sex. Drunk and angry, she takes off running. She runs so far she has no idea where she is or how to get back to camp, and she's badly injured her foot in a fall. Fortunately, Ashley has grown up in the woods and has a serious set of outdoor skills. She knows how to start a fire, where it's safe to drink the water, and how to build a shelter out of whatever's nearby. Setting a goal of two miles a day, she fashions a crutch and begins walking as best she can. But her foot becomes infected, and as the days pass, she must take desperate measures to ensure she has even a slim chance of survival.
Is It Any Good?
This is a tough, gritty, and sometimes shocking survival story that, despite a few incidents that stretch the imagination, is certain to captivate fans of Hatchet and Wild. Most of Be Not Far From Me unfolds as an interior monologue, something that readers who might prefer the story to move along through dialogue may find tough going.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what it took for Ashley to survive in Be Not Far from Me. Have you or someone close to you ever been in a situation where you were lost and alone?
If you needed help and didn't have a cellphone (or access to one), what would you do?
How much of a role do you think drinking played in what happened to Ashley?
- Author: Mindy McGinnis
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
- Publication date: March 3, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 240
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: May 1, 2020
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