Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks, this breathtaking story of love and loss is guaranteed to break your heart and sweep you off your feet.
When high school senior Kelsey's identical twin sister, Michelle, dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. The only person who doesn't know about the tragedy is Michelle's boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan. But when Kelsey finally connects with Peter online, she can't bear to tell him the truth. Active duty has taken its toll, and Peter, thinking that Kelsey is Michelle, says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey has no choice: She lets Peter believe that she is her sister.
As Kelsey keeps up the act, she crosses the line from pretend to real. Soon, Kelsey can't deny that she's falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn't want.
“Permanent doesn’t always mean forward. Permanent doesn’t always mean with you.”
I love and hate reading books about familial relationships. I love the familiar drama and the realness of them, but I hate how much they can devastate me, because nothing gets to me more than family heartbreak. A Million Miles Away has elements of what I love and hate about these books.
This book is about a girl who loses her best friend, her sister, and the choices she makes to get over her grief.
Kelsey is a dancer, a partier, a girl who loves a good time, and during the summer before senior year she’s happy and loving life. Michelle is the more introspective sister, a painter, and she’s falling in love with a boy who’s heading to Afghanistan. As they grow apart and plan their separate futures, their bond still remains; they’re twins and they’re permanent. Until one day when Michelle doesn’t come home.
“There was a part of her that had wanted to cry, but it seemed like every time she moved, someone put their hands on her internal organs and squeezed. Why did it hurt to be alive?”
This was a sad book, but it wasn’t overwhelming. There’s a thread of melancholy that is deep throughout, but it wasn’t devastating. I liked that I was able to feel an almost cleansing sorrow, but still feel light as I was reading it. I think that Lara Avery portrayed Kelsey’s grief perfectly. I loved that she showed that sometimes it’s not a devastating crumbling of the heart and soul; instead it’s a quiet falling, a slow separation of you from the one you love. Her prose was soft and sorrowful and I felt an ache all the way through this book.
“She was putting it into the air, and realizing, then that each time she said the name was another time Michelle would never hear it. Each time Kelsey said it, a little more of Michelle was gone, and she would never come back.”
Kelsey does something destructive but understandable in order to hold on to her sister a little longer. She tells a lie and throughout A Million Miles Away we see how she lives with that lie. Kelsey lies to Peter to keep him safe. She also lies to him to keep Michelle safe in her memories. Peter is the only person left who doesn’t just have memories, but a living image of her sister. I loved watching Kelsey discover more about her sister and even more about herself as she falls in love with the boy a million miles away.
I was in love with these characters, the writing, the story. Honestly, there was a time when I thought this book would be a favorite, sitting on my shelf next to The Sea of Tranquility because it gave me that feeling. That was until I got to the inevitable climax when all the secrets came to light. I don’t think it was handled well. To me, the secret was the pivotal part of the story. I mean, it’s what sells the book, and the revelation was a let down. There were parts that confused me, and the ending left too many things unexplained. It all seemed a bit rushed and out of sync with the rest of the book, which was pretty perfect.
I still liked this book a lot. I might’ve liked it too much, which was why I didn’t like the ending. But endings are crucial to me, and if it sucks, then it’s hard for me to truly enjoy the story as a whole. That being said, I’ve reread this and I still enjoyed the parts I loved the first time, so I’m not writing this book off completely. My analytic brain has to write a critical review, but I’ll still recommend it, because it’s a great YA read that’s beautifully written, with a heartwarming story.