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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away is a coming of age story written by Trisha Slay. It takes place throughout the summer of 1977 in small-town America. Erika is fifteen and a freshman in high school. Her best friend is Cassie, a beauty queen and local teen celebrity, who has run away again, this time for good. Cassie’s father, Fire Chief Abbott, has made life pretty intolerable for Cassie. Erika has photos of Cassie taken after one of those brutal beatings, which Erika is holding onto ... just in case. Erika’s mother, otherwise known as the Mother Monster, is also scary at the best of times and makes her feel fat and unwanted. Erika is totally on her own once Cassie leaves, and she tells her story through a series of letters to Cassie which she hides in a box. A mean girl at school starts the rumor that Erika snitched on drug use by upperclassmen at parties, and now she cannot walk through the halls of school without hearing pig noises directed at her.
Trisha Slay’s coming of age story is a grand adventure back to high school in general, and to the late seventies in particular. Erika is funny, wise and self-deprecating, and her letters to Cassie are marvelous. The summer she chronicles is momentous, both for her and for science fiction fans all over the world, as it is the time when the first Star Wars movie hits the movie theatres. Erika is entranced by it and volunteers to work at the local theatre for free in exchange for getting to watch the movie every day. Somehow, while she cleans the sticky floors underneath the seats and trades barbs with co-workers Sonny and Jeff, Erika discovers herself, and it’s really cool to watch. Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away is a snapshot of the not so distant past that never seems dated or out of style. It’s a wonderful romping story with an underlying mystery as Cassie’s whereabouts and well-being are up in the air. I had a great time reading Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away and highly recommend it.