Close Yet Far

Children - Social Issues
226 Pages
Reviewed on 04/22/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Essien Asian for Readers' Favorite

Interesting times lie ahead for the staff and students of Bay Vista Middle School. A wealthy son of a recently deceased staff member sees fit to make a substantial financial contribution to the school as a form of tribute to his late mother, but the generous donation comes with stipulations. Principal Delgado devises a brilliant idea to set up a competition between the students whereby the winner ends up with a chance to speak on behalf of the school and win a whopping sum of money. Shay O'Brien knows that if she wins, the money will go a long way to turning things around for her and her mother but she realizes she will be going up against one of the favorites, class president Coral Robertson. With so many vested interests at stake, who will come out on top in Roberta R. Carr and Sierra Treewater’s Close Yet Far?

Lingering social issues and the inadequate responses of society establish the theme for this collaboration between Roberta R. Carr and Sierra Treewater. The characters in the story are well fleshed out with adequate attention paid to their origin stories to give the novel the aura of a true-life account. Principal Delgado’s diplomatic dance with the education authorities while trying to keep the teachers in the school on his side serves as an interesting subplot that is as realistic as the world of education administration can be in modern times. Carr and Treewater spare no effort to make the reader aware of the harsh realities of being homeless in America without deviating from the feel-good tone of an unusual story. The speeches are unique and educative while the fairytale element is a masterstroke in comic relief. Close Yet Far is a thought-provoking novel in a class of its own.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

Shay and Coral are eighth graders with very different home and school lives. Coral lives in a house with her parents and brother, while Shay and her mother stay at a campground delegated for homeless people. Her teachers and close friends hold Coral in high esteem, but Shay feels ostracized. A speech contest with a significant award places Coral and Shay in a competition, and they discover more about themselves as they write and recite their speeches. Each girl has a chance to win and take the prize, but one of the girls may have a little magical help along the way. You can learn more in Close Yet Far by Roberta R. Carr and Sierra Treewater.

Roberta R. Carr and Sierra Treewater have written a fantastic tale. Treewater is a seventh grader, so her contribution to the story is impressive! The authors share just enough about the characters to grab our attention and immerse us in the story. It moves along at a medium pace, and Meli’s appearance, though startling, provides some comic relief and encourages Shay’s confidence. Sensitive subjects like the dangers associated with homelessness, bullying, and gun violence are touched on, but the story remains appropriate for the targeted age group. The actions of the principal and Shay’s circumstances would make great conversation-starters, and the guided questions for book clubs are helpful. Close Yet Far is an excellent gift for a preteen, and it will make a lovely addition to any middle school library.

Pikasho Deka

Close Yet Far by Roberta R. Carr and Sierra Treewater is a coming-of-age story about two eighth-grade girls from widely different backgrounds coming head to head under extraordinary circumstances. Thirteen-year-old Coral Robertson is the leader of the most popular clique of Bay Vista Middle School, the Fab Four. Meanwhile, Shay O'Brien and her mother live in a tent at a camp for homeless women, somehow surviving one day at a time. When Principal Miguel Delgado organizes a speech contest, the winner of which will represent the school at a tech billionaire's company, together with winning prize money, Shay's and Coral's lives intertwine in ways neither could have fathomed. The prize money would make Shay's and her mother's lives easier, but with Principal Delgado scheming, how will Shay and Coral perform in the worst run contest in middle school history?

With the constant rise in the cost of living all over the world, millions of children are facing homelessness. Roberta R. Carr and Sierra Treewater shed light on this increasingly relevant topic with their gripping young adult novel Close Yet Far. This slice-of-life story touches on some vital social issues while following the lives of two middle-grade girls from contrasting backgrounds. Creating well-developed characters with layers of depth and a thoroughly riveting plot, the authors keep your eyes glued to the pages. The book includes some dramatic scenes you rarely see in stories with teenagers as protagonists. Shay's story will break your heart, but somehow, you end up finishing the book on a positive note. This is an inspiring tale about resilience and having the courage and tenacity to overcome the odds. I highly recommend it.