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4 Stars Out Of 5
Filled with vivid, unique descriptions
April 20, 2012
Far From Home is a poignant story written with grace and beauty. Nicole Baart has a wonderful grasp of the English language, and her descriptions are vivid and unique. Baart used an interesting writing technique in this novel that I haven't seen before, where she alternated between first-person and third-person for the same character. Although in theory this may sound confusing it actually isn't, and I found that doing so served the plot very well in that it kept the story moving along by alternating these points of view. As the book deals with deep themes like grief and loss, it had the potential to become slow moving, but I felt the plot unfolded at a nice pace. The characters are well-developed, and I enjoyed the interactions between Dani and her sisters and mother, which resulted in moments that were at times heart-breaking and others times humorous. The author leaves much to the imagination in how the story ends, and yet either way it is a satisfying conclusion no matter what you decide the ending implies (you will see what I mean after you read the book!).
My one disappointment is that the book seemed light on the spiritual themes. While I'm sure the author was trying to appeal to a broader audience, how beautiful it would have been to have seen the character interact with Jesus, who, when we are in the pit of despair, climbs down there with us, holds us close, and wipes every tear away. I never got the impression that Dani really had an encounter with the living God, though it's clear she was moving on her own journey towards the Truth. I should also caution that there are some swear words used in the story, and I can see from other reviews that this has offended numerous readers. While I don't like swearing, the reality is that people do swear - Christians and non-Christians - and so I wasn't bothered by their inclusion in the story. If this is something that does offend you, however, then I would steer clear of this book and pick up some of Nicole Baart's other books, which are also very good indeed.
If you are looking to pick up a well-written contemporary novel that will leave you moved, then this is the book for you. Overall, I give this book a solid rating of 4 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Howard Books, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
Much of Christian fiction's emphasis on sharing biblical truths and wholesomeness; i.e. avoiding 4 letter words, support of upstanding values, etc. has strayed from its strong beginnings 20+ years ago to the point that I was not shocked but was surprised when I came across the first "bad language" in this book. I then read some readers' reviews and found out this book is not technically "Christian fiction". Because Nicole Baart's other novels were Christian fiction and published by the same publisher I assumed "Far from Here" was Christian fiction, but that was a mistake. There are brief mentions of God and Christianity.
I enjoyed the way we learned more about the characters, through memory "flashbacks", but I truly did not like any of them. Definitely not one of them would I choose as more than an acquaintance.
Nicole Baart's trilogy, Threads of Change, is one of my favorite series, and I've re-read them numerous times. I was looking forward to reading her new novel, "Far from Here, but I was disappointed to find it is not what I expected, considering her previous writing. I will carefully research reviews of any new books Baart writes before I read.
Danica and Estelle had married young. He loved flying but it terrified her. They were full of love and dreams for the future and each thought the love would take them through whatever came. They formed their lives in northwest Iowa, he flying for his "adopted" mother, she owning a hair salon.
Eight years into their marriage, he has an opportunity to fly in Alaska and goes. Days later, Danica receives the dreaded phone call. Estelle is missing. Without results, the search is finally called off. Danica cannot stand not knowing. She has to go to Alaska to pursue looking for him. But what she finds there is not at all what she wanted.
Baart has created a well written novel of a young widow making her way through grief. Danica's memories flesh out the history of their early romance and years of marriage. Her sisters and quirky mother round out the process of grieving. Then there is the single pastor next door.
The plot unfolds as the story progresses. The reader becomes aware of issues just at the right time. And when the truth of what really happened in Alaska crashes into Danica, she must make a decision that will change her life forever.
I liked this novel. It grabbed me after a bit of a slow start and I felt compelled to continue reading. The way Baart wove the history of the relationship into the present was done well. Baart crafts her sentences with care. Reading her work was a pleasant experience.
A couple of things to think about, however, if you plan to read this novel.
First, the subject matter. I have a brother-in-law who flew for a lodge in Alaska, transporting hunters and supplies. This novel hit close to home. It could have described my sister's grieving. I am not sure she or any of her close friends could read this book. It would be just too painful.
Second, those who like to have the gospel presented somewhere in the novel will be sorely disappointed. The characters believe in God and have gone to church, but that is all. Even with the pastor next door, there is no talk of Jesus. God remains on the fringes of the story, never becoming a vital aspect of the mourning or healing processes. I like to see Christian fiction fill a role higher than entertainment and did not feel this novel rose to that level.
There is an extensive reading group guide at the back of the novel, making this a possible choice for reading groups.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Howard Books for the purpose of this review.
Captivating writing, solid story plot and characters that live on the page, are just a few things this novel hides between its pages.
The writing voice lives little to be desired. Strong and poignant, its literary quality does not lend that the reader's attention goes anywhere, but stays exactly where it should: with the book.
A heart-wrenching story of a woman who has lost her husband in a tragic accident and must move on with her life, but a hidden secret just might tear apart every good memory about their relationship. It's an age-old plot, but told in such a fresh way.
I can see where some readers might become frustrated with Dani's attitude, but to me, she was incredibly lovable and while I've never lost a spousal connection, I understood her pain through the high quality of the writing.
I do have a warning about this novel. Strong language, which did offend me and will most likely offend other Christian readers, should not pick this novel up assuming it to be geared for the Christian market as I did. It is not. It's a great story, but one must contend with offensive language. And I'll be honest, this lowered my opinion of the novel_and disappointed me.
The ending is incredibly strong for the tragic bent of the novel. But it closes the book with such hope, a hard thing to do. But well done.
This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the publishers for my copy to review.
Here is a romance with a twist. Through flashbacks, the author tells the story of Danica and Etsell (Dani and Ell)--meeting, falling in love, and marrying while quite young. Ten years into marriage, and Ell, a man who loves flying a small aircraft, leaves Dani, who has a white-knuckle fear of flying, for a three-week business trip in Alaska, and goes missing. The characters are fleshed out so well that connections are made with this reader. The author is adept in bringing characters to life.
The story is compelling; I became anxious to find out how the plot ends. The conclusion, although somewhat expected, felt abrupt. This is one of those books, the reader did not want to end.
Some profanity is used.
Reading Group Guide is included. If you're in a book club, this one will definitely help the discussion.
Thank you to Anne Staszalek from AuthorsOnTheWeb for my copy.