After reading the incredibly powerful novel Heroine last year I was interested in seeing how Mindy McGinnis tackled a completely different topic in her most recent release, Be Not Far From Me, about a girl who gets lost in the Tennessee wilderness. In this story, Ashley discovers her boyfriend cheating during a party in the woods and drunkenly stumbles off, injuring herself and getting left behind by her friends. Normally, Ashley is the wilderness expert, but when she wakes up, alone, injured, shoeless, and off-trail, she has no clue where she is. What follows is her journey to survive–both mentally and physically–and her attempt to find her way back home.
With such an exciting premise, I really expected more intrigue from Be Not Far From Me. It’s actually a kinda boring book. First, Ashley starts off as an unlikeable character, the kind who loves to remind you that she’s “not like other girls” because she’s not into makeup and she likes to be outside. Then, she does something incredibly stupid by wandering drunk into the woods while being too stubborn to call for help. The rest of the novel is very slow-moving and filled with description, which is sometimes quite graphic and did successfully make me feel a little nauseous when it discussed some of what happens to Ashley’s foot. I’m impressed that McGinnis went so dark at times, but the book as a whole just lacked the kind of intensity I expected. There were some powerful moments within the novel and I enjoyed the way McGinnis captured the woods, but ultimately the story left me wanting me more. Although Be Not Far From Me was disappointing, McGinnis is definitely still an author I’d read from again.