Book: Far From Xanadu
Author: Julie Anne Peters
On a scale from one to ten, Mary-Elizabeth “Mike” Szabo’s life is somewhere in the negative 300’s. Her father killed himself, her mother hasn’t spoken to her in two years, and the family plumbing business is so far in the toilet it’s taken up residence in the S-bend. But then exotic, alluring, damaged Xanadu comes to town, and Mike falls for her before they ever exchange a word. Unfortunately, Xanadu’s straight. But maybe love really does conquer all . . .
I almost put this book down. I meant to, and then I looked up and realized I was on page 74 and someone would have to hit me with a hammer to get me to turn it back in before I finished it.
Refreshingly, this is not a book about a girl who Realizes She’s a Lesbian and the Hideous Angst of it all. Mike knows that she’s gay and is comfortable with it, as is the town. I thought that element was a little fairy-tale--it is a small town in Kansas--but really, Mike’s sexuality is not the focus of the book, so I was able to forgive it.
It’s pretty clear that Xanadu is bad news, and I didn’t much feel like reading a book about a bad-news girl. But then I realized: this isn’t Xanadu’s book, it’s Mike’s. It’s a story about that first time you fall so hard for somebody that even the certain knowledge they’ll break your heart and stomp on the oozing pieces with soccer cleats isn’t enough to slow your descent.
At the same time, this is a story about a young woman slowly returning to life and hope after a tragedy that’s turned her inward like a turtle retreating into its shell. Like it or not, her passion for Xanadu is one of the catalysts that brings her back. But what keeps her on the path back to life is the love that others have for her. Her friends, her neighbors, and even part of her shattered family are there, whether she wants them or not.
In this book, love really does conquer--almost--all.