Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal

Far, Far Away is a Stand Alone-YAY!!!

4/5

Quick Overview

far far awayJeremy Johnson Johnson lives with his father above their Two Book Bookstore in the little town on Never Better.  He’s smart, shy, and has a ghost for a best friend-Jacob Grimm.

One day, Jeremy meets Ginger, a spunky classmate, and the two of them and Jacob get involved into a bit of trouble.

The Good News

  • Jacob Grimm is the ghost of one of the Grimm brothers and their tales run rampant throughout the book.  It is a good story to introduce tweens/teens to the Grimm tales especially the ones who are all hopped up on the Disney fairy-tales.
  • The story is told by Jacob and he has a “sit back and let me tell you a story” sort of voice.  It’s very calming. But in true Grimm fashion, it turns very dark.
  • There is a villain and McNeal holds nothing back.  I love this because if you are going to have a villain, don’t sprinkle sugar all over him; make his truly evil.
  • All of the characters are likable.  There are a couple of the run-of-the-mill characters such as:  a flirtatious girl and her cronies and a bully but they aren’t stereotypical.
  • The story was a bit predicable but I felt like McNeal knew this and added twists.
  • This is a VERY good discussion book for 5th-12th grade.  It can be fun trying to find all the Grimm tale references and morals to stories.

The Bad News (nit-picking)

  • You don’t learn Jeremy’s age until page 141.  It’s hard to picture the characters when you don’t know how old they are.
  • It says that they are in America but they say university instead of college and they have a vocabulary class.  That doesn’t sound like America to me.
  • Jacob could’ve left Jeremy earlier. (You’ll have to read it to find out. I don’t want to spoil it.)
  • It dragged a bit in the middle.

Overall

It was an interesting take on Grimm. It wasn’t particularly deep but it had enough for a good dialogue.

Book Clubs for Tweens/Teens-

Please stop reading if you don’t want to see spoilers!!!

I do this b/c I am a librarian that runs a book discussion group for 5th-7th grade. Parents of younger teens are expecting librarians to pick clean books and it is helpful to know if the book is okay for middle school.  Otherwise, I am all for Intellectual Freedom.

  • No language
  • There are a couple of reference to Ginger’s attractiveness and some subtle references to sleeping over one’s house.
  • Appropriate for 5th grade but not too simple for high school
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