Author: Gwendolyn Heasley
Publication: HarperTeen (June 5, 2012)
Description: For too long, Kitsy has had to satisfy her dreams of becoming a real artist by giving her friends makeovers before prom. So when her best friend Corrinne's family offers to sponsor her for a summer art course in New York City, Kitsy bids a temporary good-bye to Texas to say hello to the West Village.
Between navigating the subway and the New Yorkers—namely, the Art Boy who has a nice trick of getting under her skin—Kitsy knows that this summer is going to be about a lot more than figure drawing.
My Thoughts: I don't read many young adult contemporaries but, if this is what is out there, I really need to start. A LONG WAY FROM YOU was a story with heart and has a main character I fell in love with. Kitsy Kidd is from a small town in Texas. Her mom smokes and drinks too much and leaves the responsibility for her little brother Kiki to Kitsy. She has long been the parent in their relationship. She is also captain of the cheerleading team and the girlfriend of the quarterback. They have have been dating since they were both in sixth grade. And Kitsy is also an artist who has the wonderful opportunity to attend a month-long summer class at Parsons in New York City. She will be living with the parents of her best friend Corrinne even though Corrinne will be away working as a camp counselor.
We get to experience Kitsy's culture shock as she learns her way around New York. Kitsy makes friends with a couple of the kids in her art class including Iona and Ford. Before she left town, Corrinne encouraged Kitsy to star away from Iona but Kitsy does her own judging of people. Kitsy also meets Tad who is a native New Yorker and who is in a band along with Rider, another person Kitsy knew from home. She also meets Annika who is now an actress but who is a small town girl from Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
Kitsy has a lot of deciding to do. The whole question of running away from something as opposed to running toward something is something she has to figure out. Annika and Rider are definitely running away. Kitsy is doing it differently. She has a really strong sense of who she is and where she wants to go. She did grow up some during her summer of art and meeting new people but she didn't change who she essentially was.
This was a great story about following dreams. I think fans of contemporaries will fall in love with Kitsy as I did and will love spending a month in New York with her. Readers who want to know more about how Corrinne and Kitsy became best friends should be on the lookout for WHERE I BELONG which tells the story of how the girls met. The writing style is engaging and the characters well-drawn in a few deft pen strokes that reveal them to us. This story is highly recommended and is immediately going on my next Media Center book order for my students to enjoy.
By coming to New York, I got to realize my fantasy: to escape and end up someplace magical. But after living my own fairy tale, I don't think of Cinderella as a hero. Instead of confronting her evil stepsisters and stepmother, she hightailed it to the palace and left her father and friends behind. In a sense, she left Cinderella behind, like Annabella did with Annika. What's so heroic about running away?I received this ARC from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. You can buy a copy here.