As Far As You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper is a story all about found family and finding where you belong. I loved the parts of the book that feature music, especially since the oboe is a pretty unconventional instrument in YA, and the main character is realistic. What I wasn’t expecting was the book’s darker tone compared to Stamper’s debut, but while this wasn’t exactly what I was looking for at the moment, I would still recommend it to those looking for a more serious contemporary.Title: As Far As You'll Take Me
Author: Phil Stamper
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Publication Date: February 9, 2021
The author of The Gravity of Us crafts another heartfelt coming-of-age story about finding the people who become your home--perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli
Marty arrives in London with nothing but his oboe and some savings from his summer job, but he's excited to start his new life--where he's no longer the closeted, shy kid who slips under the radar and is free to explore his sexuality without his parents' disapproval.
From the outside, Marty's life looks like a perfect fantasy: in the span of a few weeks, he's made new friends, he's getting closer with his first ever boyfriend, and he's even traveling around Europe. But Marty knows he can't keep up the facade. He hasn't spoken to his parents since he arrived, he's tearing through his meager savings, his homesickness and anxiety are getting worse and worse, and he hasn't even come close to landing the job of his dreams. Will Marty be able to find a place that feels like home?
❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃
Review: As Far As You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper
Sick of having to hide his true self in his conservative hometown, Marty travels to London to escape it all. What his religious parents don’t know is that instead of just a trip, Marty has decided to stay in London permanently, planning to join an orchestra and explore his sexuality without their disapproval. I loved the musical aspects of the book, and I actually learned more about the culture of music school and orchestras than I was expecting. This, combined with the descriptions of London had to be my favourite elements.
❀ Marty is a Strong Character
I really felt for Marty, and he is such a strong character. He has a lot on his plate with his parents who don’t accept him, a toxic friendship back home, and homesickness. Marty’s struggles are so real, and I enjoyed how the author doesn’t shy away from his more heartbreaking conflicts. Eating disorders in men are severely underrepresented in literature, and I particularly appreciated this presence.
❀ Heavy Themes
I’m still not entirely sure what it is about this book that didn’t hook me. I think what it comes down to is the fact that it is much heavier than I was anticipating. There are many serious topics including anxiety, toxic relationships, outing, and eating disorders that are depicted, and I was surprised at the darker tone this one has compared to Stamper’s first novel. This doesn’t mean that it’s a bad book–I actually found that each of these topics are handled with sensitivity and care–but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for at the moment. I would still recommend this one, although please be aware of the heavier themes.
❀ A Heartfelt Story
As Far As You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper is a heartfelt story about finding yourself and your home. I loved the musical elements, and the main character’s strength is admirable. However, this book is heavier than I was expecting, which wasn’t for me right now. Despite this, this is a realistic story that I’m sure many others will love.