4 out of 4 stars
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"Depression was like a game of Russian roulette. I never knew how I was going to feel."
As anyone knows, navigating life through the eyes of a young adult can be confusing. Throw depression and anxiety into the mix, and things can go south very quickly. Feeling detached from his life, 20-year-old Drew Thomas withdraws from college and heads home on a midnight train. Unfortunately, he does not receive the warm homecoming he'd imagined. Instead, he is met with outrage by his father, who believes mental illness is a hoax. He demands that Drew start making changes, or he will find himself homeless.
After several suicide attempts, Drew is admitted to a psychiatric hospital where he will spend an undetermined amount of time. He is hesitant about the process and wants nothing more than to be left alone in his despair. Will he become another casualty of depression, or will his stay at the facility give him a new lease on life?
Far From All Else by Tom Lally is a YA book about self-discovery, adversity, and pushing through when life seems impossible. It is told from the first-person perspective and follows Drew on his journey to recovery. The author addresses weighty issues such as suicide, psychological abuse, and the reality of living with depression. Readers are pulled into Drew's world through the emotional transparency that jumps off the pages. The writing is expressive and cohesive, and readers can expect to be fully immersed in the story.
My favorite aspect about Far From All Else was the connection I felt to the main character. From the first page, Drew's voice resonated with me, and I was transported back to when I was a teen who was struggling to make sense of the world. Adolescence is one of the most challenging times in a person's life, and it can often feel as if you are a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Drew lacked a sense of belonging, and this was shown through his suicide attempt.
Throughout the book, I was introduced to several secondary characters that made a significant impact on Drew's road to wellness. Though several members of his family wrote him off, his sister, Riley, supported his road to recovery. Her weekly visits to the facility reminded him that he was loved. Another person who made a profound impact on him was Dr. Phillips, who encouraged him to pursue his passion for writing. She said, "You are talented, and while I cannot promise you accolades or success in your future, I do know that if you never try, I can promise you will never have a chance of succeeding." Finally, Leighton, another patient in the facility, sparked his interest and made him feel needed by pouring her heart out to him.
While the book had a few minor grammatical errors, they were not exhaustive, and it didn't take away from the reading experience. The story was easy to follow, and the author wrote with precision and eloquence. I chose to give Far From All Else a rating of 4 out of 4 stars.
The book contains some profanity and graphic scenes of attempted suicide that may be a trigger for some readers. Far From All Else would appeal to teens and adults; it is impactful and will surely strike a chord with you. I found myself thinking about Drew's character long after I had finished the book. For readers who enjoy character-driven stories, you won't be disappointed!
Far From All Else
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