When I was seventeen years old there were only three things that I knew for certain: I was a mixed up mixed kid, with weird hair and an unhealthy love of comics; I wanted to forget I’d ever heard the words depression and anxiety; and I was hopelessly in love with a girl named Annalise who was, in every way that you can be, a goddess. What can I say about Anna? She wasn’t the prom queen or the perfect girl from the movies, she was my weird, funny, messed up goddess. The girl of my dreams. The reason I’m writing these words.
I’d loved Anna from a distance my junior year, afraid to actually talk to her, but then one day during lunch my best friend threw a french fry at my face and changed everything. The rest, as they say, is history. Our History. Our Story. Annalise helped make me the man I am today, and loving her saved my teenaged soul from drowning in the depths of a terrible Bleh, the worst kind of sadness that there is, a concept Anna taught me about a long time ago, when we were younger than young. So flip the book over, open up the cover and let me tell you Our Story, which is like Annalise, herself - complicated, beautiful, funny, and guaranteed to teach you something by the time you’re through. Maybe it’ll teach you the complexity of the word potato, something I never understood until the very last page.
I almost made this my first vlog book review but I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep my composure with this book. And becoming a rambling crazy woman on video is not my idea of fun lol. I pre-ordered Away from Here because it sounded good and because I like the author, Christopher Harlan. Yet, it has taken me this long to actually be able to read the book. I have to be honest what I read was NOT what I expecting to read. I thought (or rather assumed) that it was going to be a generic love story. Truly, I should have known better. What I got was an amazing eloquently written book about first love, first loss, and dealing with mental illness.
Logan is your typical high school boy, from the outside anyways. He feels like he’s a mixed up mixed raced kid. He has a crus on the hottest girl, Anna. Has only one true friend, Pete. What many don’t know is what his family life is like. It’s actually probably more typical than what anyone knows. Logan’s mom deals with depression.
Anna is the girl of Logan’s dreams, if he could only work up the nerve to talk to her. Yep, typical high school stuff. Then Anna and Logan are assigned to work on a group project together. Thus opening up the communication between Anna and Logan. I’m not going to reveal everything about their relationship. Anna is struggling with her own demons. Demons that are dark, deep and hard for an adult to handle, much less a teenager.
Harlan brings a light to mental illness and dealing with loved ones who have it or dealing with having it yourself. I know those struggles all to well. Which is why I said I couldn’t do this as a vlog without rambling. I have dealt with depression since I was young. Depression runs in my family sadly.
We (meaning society) don’t talk enough about depression. It’s taboo, a secret. While it needs to be brought to the light. Christopher Harlan does this beautifully in Away from Here. Having just finished reading AFH I am in a reflective mood. Growing up I never knew that having to pretend that I was happy 24/7 was not normal. I didn’t realize that most kids don’t have to be in counseling by the 4th grade. I could tell my story but that’s not what this post is about.
This book will open your mind up and let you into the mind of a young man as he deals with not only his mothers illness but his first love, who also deals with the blehs (as Anna calls it). This is a perfect read for a teenager who needs to know that they are not alone. It reminds you that there are people out there who will just listen. And who knows you may just end up with #potato.
Life and love is not always about the happy endings. My favorite quote from Away From Here is “It was totally meant to be. But not everything that’s meant to be is meant to last. Everything ends. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t the best thing that ever happened to me.” Just because a happy ending wasn’t given doesn’t mean the experience and the moment wasn’t beautiful and to be treasured.
I know I haven’t done this book the justice it deserves but this is a must read for all people in my book. Eye opening, thought provoking, and heart embracing.