Monday, November 23, 2009


Peters, Julie Anne. Far From Xanadu. Little, Brown, 2007 (c2005). 282 p. PBK $7.99 ISBN 978-0316159715

SUMMARY: "Sixteen-year-old Mary-Elizabeth 'Mike' Szabo, struggling to understand her father's suicide and her own homosexuality, reaches the breaking point when she falls in love with Xanadu, an exotic girl who has moved to small Coalton, Kansas, from the big city."

RISKS: Homosexual characters, substance abuse,

EVALUATION: I love this book and I hate it. Though Peters is adept with her humor, it is not always easy to appreciate it amongst the sadness. Mike Szabo is dealing with enormous burdens during the course of the novel, which sometimes made it drag a little. But there are the gems that make me love the book, including the character Jamie, Mike's moments of self-confidence with softball and with plumming, as well as the mending of her relationship with her brother. Despite the novel being chock full of problems (if there were ever a quintessential problem novel, this might be one), there is a hopeful ending and a refreshing depiction of an accepting, loving small town community. In addition, this book is filling a need in teen literature with the common topic of unrequited love, but in this case, specifically between gay and straight characters.

READER'S ANNOTATION: Her father's death was complicated. Her own life is complicated. Will her new friendship with Xanadu help to clarify her feelings or only make them worse?

TOPICS: sex & sexuality; homosexuality; lesbians; suicide; death; love; obesity; alcoholism; substance abuse; depression; high school; softball; Kansas

AWARDS: 2005 Rainbow Reads, selected by the American Library Association’s GLBT Round Table; Finalist for the 2006 Colorado Book Award in Young Adult Fiction; New York Public Library Books for the Teen-Age List 2006; Booklist Top 10 Romance Fiction for Youth; An American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults, 2006 Nomination; An ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2006 Nomination

Ages 12-17

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