Review: As Far As You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper

As Far as You'll Take Me by Phil Stamper

As Far As You’ll Take Me
Phil Stamper
Bloomsbury YA
Published February 9, 2021

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

About As Far As You’ll Take Me

Marty arrives in London with nothing but his oboe and some savings from his summer job, but he’s excited to start his new life–where he’s no longer the closeted, shy kid who slips under the radar and is free to explore his sexuality without his parents’ disapproval.

From the outside, Marty’s life looks like a perfect fantasy: in the span of a few weeks, he’s made new friends, he’s getting closer with his first ever boyfriend, and he’s even traveling around Europe. But Marty knows he can’t keep up the facade. He hasn’t spoken to his parents since he arrived, he’s tearing through his meager savings, his homesickness and anxiety are getting worse and worse, and he hasn’t even come close to landing the job of his dreams. Will Marty be able to find a place that feels like home?

As Far As You'll Take Me on Goodreads

My Review

I have mixed feelings about this one. Mostly, I think, I have mixed feelings about Marty as a character.

He has anxiety– and I thought that part was really well crafted. I felt like I was experiencing it with him, and definitely felt for him. I tend to love angsty musician characters, so I figured Marty would be a sure win.

Plus the oboe holds a special place in my heart, since I’m practically surrounded by oboe players. (My sister, my daughter, my former roommate, and my cousin all either play or played the oboe. Actually, both my sisters played, my youngest only briefly.) So I was super excited to see an oboe player. In a YA novel! Yay!

And I loved that the story featured such complex, twisty friendships. Marty and Megan is a great example. I feel like a LOT of people have had the experience where that one super close friendship we thought we couldn’t live without has some real, undeniable toxicity to it. Marty’s wrestling with how to feel about his friendship with her and the way his new friendships put that relationship into context was SO. Well. Done.

Despite that, I struggled with some feelings about Marty. He stressed about money and agonized over whether he’d be able to land gigs and stay in London, but then off he’d go with his friends and chasing down potential romance. He ignored his friends when they tried to tell him things he didn’t want to hear and seemed pretty comfortable using them. I thought he made a lot of selfish decisions.

Some of that made sense in the context of his being totally swallowed up by his romantic feelings, so I wanted to give him a break. All the breaks.

He does grow a lot through the story. I kind of wanted some of his epiphanies to happen earlier. Some things felt a bit crammed in to the last few chapters, and that didn’t really give me a chance to see him walk things out, which I think would have been really satisfying.

As Far As You'll Take Me on Amazon

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Representation
Marty is gay and has anxiety. His mother was born in Ireland. He comes from a conservative Christian family. Marty’s friend group is a pretty diverse group.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used roughly a few times per chapter.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between two boys. Brief touching. One scene shows them undressed and leading up to sex. Brief kissing between two girls.

Spiritual Content
Marty’s parents are deeply religious Christians. Marty is pretty disparaging of their faith, for two reasons that are pretty interconnected. One is that he just doesn’t believe in God anymore. He also feels it’s been pretty hammered into him that who he is is a sin, which has been pretty damaging.

Violent ContentTrigger Warning for Homophobia
A person Marty cares about outs him as gay to people in his hometown. His parents offer support to him personally, but display some homophobic behavior to the LGBT community at large.

Drug Content
Marty and his friends drink alcohol together. Marty and another group member are underage at seventeen.

Note: I received a free copy of AS FAR AS YOU’LL TAKE ME in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog.

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About Kasey Giard

I'm a mama, reader, and writer. Passionate about peppermint (it's not just for Christmas, okay?!), fly fishing, and movie night.

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