Book Review: Far From Here

Far From Here

Author: Nicole Baart
Publisher:  Howard Books
Release Date: February, 2012
Pages: 352
Genre: Fiction

Danica Greene has always hated flying, so it was almost laughable that the boy of her dreams was a pilot. She married him anyway and together, she and Etsell settled into a life where love really did seem to conquer all. Danica is firmly rooted on the ground in Blackhawk, the small town in northern Iowa where they grew up, and the wide slashes of sky that stretch endlessly across the prairie seem more than enough for Etsell.  But when the opportunity to spend three weeks in Alaska helping a pilot friend presents itself, Etsell accepts and their idyllic world is turned upside down. It’s his dream, he reveals, and Danica knows that she can’t stand in the way. Ell is on his last flight before heading home when his plane mysteriously vanishes shortly after takeoff, leaving Danica in a free fall. Etsell is gone, but what exactly does gone mean? Is she a widow? An abandoned wife? Or will Etsell find his way home to her?

Danica is forced to search for the truth in her marriage and treks to Alaska to grapple with the unanswerable questions about her husband’s mysterious disappearance. But when she learns that Ell wasn’t flying alone and that a woman is missing, too, the bits and pieces of the careful life that she had constructed for them in Iowa take to the wind. A story of love and loss, and ultimately starting over, Far From Here explores the dynamics of intimacy and the potentially devastating consequences of the little white lies we tell the ones we love.

Initial Thoughts: This was acquired through an acquaintance who recommended it. I trust her judgement.

My Take: Danica met handsome and charismatic Etsell in high school. We learn that she gave up any ambition beyond living in Blackhawk, Iowaa when Etsell proposed. She effectively tied herself to his life, but Etsell was not tied to his home the same way she was.  As a pilot, he was a man of land and air and Dani’s fear of flying cut her off from that part of his life. (I also have a fear of flying, so can’t imagine ever tying myself to someone like Etsell even if he was the hottest guy in the town.)

We learn that Etsell’s plane is missing in Alaska. Our viewpoint of Etsell is entirely filtered through Dani’s perspective. Her flashbacks are meant to provide a window into their love but Dani most times comes off as dependent on Etsell. No wonder he felt compelled to escape to Alaska.

Dani and Hazel (Etsell’s mother figure) decide to travel to Alaska just to make sure that yes, his plane really is missing. They learn that another person named Samantha may also have been in the plan with him. Dani begins to question his fidelity, asking around about this mystery woman. Once again, Dani is ineffective, trapped by her grief. While I’ve never been in this position myself, reading a female character with little to no conviction can be frustrating. Sam is found and questioned but they leave Alaska knowing little to no more about this woman or where Etsell may have gone down.

With Etsell’s death pretty much settled, Dani must wade through her grief with a dysfunctional family by her side. The mother and sister characters were my favorite simply because their love for Dani seemed in earnest. This is when we come to know Benjamin, her neighbor a little better. If you’re going to introduce a potential love interest to a mourning woman, it needs to be done carefully. Their friendship is centered around the garden- a good metaphor for the time and love that must go into creating something new.

Dani’s deals with her grief in many ways through the novel, and I liked the many outward steps that she took to begin her new life. From the garden and her hair salon to Dani’s refurbishing a trestle table. Baart showed us instead of telling us about her journey. The reappearance of Sam later in the novel provides a revelation that will test Dani who is trying to move forward.

Overall: A young widow must confront not only her husband’s death, but her future without him. Her journey to discover herself outside of her husband’s love serves to strengthen the bonds of family. With a great supporting cast of characters, the dramatic scenes between mother and daughters ring true. If you can get over Dani’s lack of independence, you will enjoy this book.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

“When she was seven, Dani had rescued a stuffed seal pup from the secondhand store in Blackhawk. She never named him, but her seal’s pebbled fur has been loved smooth in a decade of nighttime cuddling. Before she happened across the sleek pup, Dani hadn’t known that she forstered an enduring affection for animals who could live on and and sea, effortlessly part of two wholly different worlds. She would have loved to see a seal in real life; to touch the glass were water and air were divided in half in perfect cross section.”

About The Author:

Nicole Baart lives in a small town in Iowa and is the mother of three young sons. After the adoption of her second son from Ethiopia, Nicole discovered a deep passion for global issues and co-founded a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, that works alongside a church and orphanage in Monrovia, Liberia. An accomplished novelist, she was a 2009 Christy Award finalist for fiction.


*This book was acquired on my own. All thoughts are my own.


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