It's a terrible thing to live under a question mark. The lies and the truth keep getting tangled and twisted in my mind. That's why I can't stop examining every minute, every second, every breath of that last night, looking for some shadow or flaw that might reach out to drag Cassie back to this prison she fought so far to escape.
It's the summer of 1977, and Erika Williams has just helped her best friend Cassie escape their "Nowheresville" town of Ohio. Erika lives with her "Mother Monster," Anita, and misses Cassie like crazy, but she had to help her escape - Cassie's father, the chief of police, was abusing her. Erika is feeling lonely that summer until two major things happen: the movie Star Wars comes to theaters and changes her life, and she starts "interning" at the Bixby, a gorgeous, older theater in town, where she can watch Star Wars as much as she likes.
When Erika helps her best friend, teen beauty queen Cassie Abbott, escape their “Nowhere, Ohio” town, she promises to keep all of their secrets safe, but then the days stretch into weeks with no word from Cassie. Worse, the sheriff’s investigation into Cassie’s disappearance is making Erika doubt she ever really knew Cassie at all. Under the weight of scrutiny and confusion, Erika struggles just to breathe…until a new movie called Star Wars transforms her summer with a new hope.
For Erika, Star Wars changes everything! She volunteers to do chores for a local theater owner just to gain unlimited access to a galaxy far, far away from her current reality. At the Bixby Theater—a beautiful but crumbling movie palace from a more civilized era—Erika discovers new friendships, feels the crush of first love and starts an exciting new romance with Super 8 film making. But she can’t hide in a darkened movie theater forever.
I was intrigued when I heard about this book because I'm a fan of Star Wars - as many of you may know, I'm also a movie blogger - and I was wondering how the author was going to integrate the movie within this book. Erika becomes obsessed with the film shortly after seeing it, and it defines her entire summer - it makes her take chances and become braver than she might ordinarily not have been.
I liked Erika overall as a character. She was a bit naive, but by the end of the summer I think some of that "naiveness" has gone away. The book is set up in that she writes letters to Cassie, which I presume she never mails because she doesn't have a new address for her, but within those letters, we get a sense of Erika and the relationship they used to have. She's definitely a typical teen:
But wait, it gets even better. Jeff still works at the Bixby. So this means I'm going to be seeing Jeff and talking to Jeff every single day all summer long.
Oh my stars! I think I might die of happiness before this summer is over.(Jeff is a boy that Cassie went out with a few times, but on whom Erika has a major crush)
Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away juggles a lot of plot points throughout, and I think that's what helps make it the book that it is. Erika is juggling the "loss" of Cassie along with being teased at school, yet she's able to carve out a niche for herself at the Bixby, and even try to help save it from being repossessed when she finds out that Nick, its elderly owner, is behind on the Bixby's bills. I'd recommend this novel for anyone who is a fan of Star Wars or who has ever had a summer or an event that was life-changing; baby boomers who grew up in the '70s will surely enjoy all of the references (they drink Tab!) in this book as well.
4 stars out of 5.
*Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.
I have one copy of Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away to give to a lucky reader. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. The contest will end next Wednesday, July 10, at 11:59pm EST, and the winner will be emailed on July 11 and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen. U.S./Canada only, please.
I'll also be hosting another guest post by Tricia Slay on my movie blog next Wednesday, July 10th, and you'll be able to win a copy of the book there too - so check it out and double your chances of winning.
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