Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis
For me, this was a passionate one day read. I couldn’t wait to reach the end.
It reads like a detailed fever dream. I was at once racing to finish, savoring every word, and scared to turn the page! Ashley is our teenage main character. Raised by a single father in poverty, she grew up spending a lot of time playing outside. Wilderness survival is her hobby. Cross country running is her sport. When a camping trip with her boyfriend and friends goes terribly wrong, Ashley runs drunkenly into the dark woods and falls over. When she wakes up she’s all alone, the bones of her foot are exposed, and she doesn’t know which way the campsite is.
The vast majority of the story is focused on Ashley alone in the forest, near death almost the whole time. We are with her as she tends to her wounds, tries to feed herself, and reflects on her life.
It’s a quick read, under 250 pages, but the journey feels so much longer. Ashley’s character develops immensely over the course of the story, and you can’t help but feel a little changed as the reader too.
All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban
The perfect readalike for fans of One of Us is Lying. It’s instantly gripping, easy to read, and brimming with twists. A legitimately good YA thriller/mystery.
Five senior students find themselves tricked into psychotic real life escape room. There’s a syringe with lethal poison, a bomb counting down the minutes, and instructions to pick one person to kill or else they all die. The whole time I was wondering: who put them in the room? What are their “twisted secrets?” And who are they going to chose to kill?
There’s romance, accurate representation of teenage friendship, and over-the-top drama. At points it was emotional, at points fun, but the whole time it was exciting. I will say as a trigger warning: in one of the flashbacks there is a detailed scene depicting teen suicide.
Overall I really enjoyed it, and was highly motivated to get to the end quickly. I have already started promoting this novel at high school book talks, and the response has been incredible! More than any other book I talked about, this premise sparked enthusiastic discussion – especially among reluctant readers.