Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away

Young Adult - Coming of Age
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 05/25/2014
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Trisha Slay grew up in a haunted house ... now she writes about restless spirits.

When she's not hunched over a computer, she enjoys hiking with her husband and rescue dogs, hunting down new ghost stories, exploring historic cemeteries, sampling red wine, and flying her Star Wars geek flag.

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    Book Review

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.

Kathryn Bennett

Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away by Trisha Slay introduces us to Erika who is struggling after her friend Cassie disappeared. The police are hammering Erika and her life seems to be spiraling. She knew Cassie had been trying to escape, but there seems to be so much that she didn’t know. Then she finds Star Wars and does chores for a theatre so that she can have access to the film and feel like she has friends again. What will Erika do to help herself? To help the theatre she cares about? Moreover, what lessons did she take away from her favourite film, Star Wars?

I admit I am a Trekkie. I like Star Wars but prefer Trek, so I was not sure what I would think of a book where the main character was hooked on Star Wars. I thought, well, I would give it a try anyway because I really do enjoy a good coming of age story. I am glad that I did because this is a true coming of age with heart. Erika has to contend with a lot and I don’t envy her feelings, especially when things start to get bad over Cassie. We all need to find something and she found Star Wars. Trisha Slay has written a compelling novel with a main character that any of us could be and that many readers from the Star Wars era are going to relate with. It is well written with a pattern of writing that flows nicely with the plot. I found it enjoyable from cover to cover and I would recommend it.

Lit Amri

Author Trisha Slay introduces readers to Erika, who helped Cassie Abbott, her teen beauty queen best friend, escape their "Nowheresville" town of Ohio. Cassie's father, the fire chief, was abusing her and Erika knew that it had to be done. However, the investigation into Cassie’s disappearance troubles and confuses Erika. Does she really know everything about her friend? I was intrigued by the cover art right away. It made me wonder what Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away was really all about. Why Star Wars?

A ‘life-changing event’ is happening to the protagonist in the summer of 1977; the movie Star Wars comes to theaters. Erika starts volunteering at the Bixby, a gorgeous, older theater in town, where she can watch Star Wars as much as she wants. She also develops friendships with the theater’s motley crew and a love for film-making with a Super 8 camera. As the scrutiny on her regarding the missing Cassie gets heavier, Erika draws her strength from Star Wars, ready to fight for herself and her beloved theater.

I’m not an avid fan of Star Wars (although I enjoyed all its movies) and I never experienced the ‘70s. Yet, the time setting for this story easily evoked a nostalgic feeling, making this book much more pleasant to read. I also liked the first person narrative of the story where Erika writes letters to Cassie, letters that she would never mail. You don’t have to be a Stars Wars fan to love this story. This coming-of-age novel is compelling and charmingly quirky.