River City Reading

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Far Far Away - Tom McNeal Jeremy Johnson Johnson has felt like an outsider most of his life. He’s been supporting his reclusive father ever since his mother left them and recently admitted to his classmates that he can hear voices. Though it causes the townspeople of Never Better to shy away from him, Jeremy knows that being able to hear the voice of Jacob Grimm, famous half of fairy tale writing pair The Brothers Grimm, is a gift. When Jeremy begins a friendship with popular Ginger Boultinghouse, she encourages him to take risks and break free from his usual routine. But these changes set off a series of events that will expose Never Better’s secrets in a tale dark enough to be plucked from the past.

Far Far Away is narrated by the voice of Jacob Grimm, who is charged with protecting Jeremy from an unknown person with evil intentions before he can transition to the afterlife. At the start of the novel Jeremy’s reserved state keeps the tone safe, as he and Jacob struggle to figure out who could be plotting against him. But as Jeremy's friendship with Ginger grows and he begins to experience the world around him, the book’s mood is altered in a way that masterfully echoes the work of the Grimm Brothers.

"I suddenly understood that, for Jeremy, the surprise of love would not arrive, as it does in the tales, with a strange enchantment or with a smiting glance or with a lilting voice riding the wind through the woodland. No, for Jeremy, the surprise of love would be carried on the lazy currents of friendship."

I tend to be overly picky with the YA novels I choose to read, but Far Far Away marked everything off my checklist and then some. The story is brilliantly original, with a dash of history and perfectly dark overtones. Tom McNeal has taken the heart of The Brothers Grimm tales and updated them, making Far Far Away a thrilling, relevant story for readers of all ages.

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