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A Million Miles Away

Review

A Million Miles Away

Identical twins Michelle and Kelsey couldn’t be more different; Michelle is a moody artist and Kelsey is a popular dancer. As they prepare for the next stage in their lives, their most important constant is each other. But when Michelle dies in a car crash, Kelsey finds herself unexpectedly entwined in the life of the only other person who really knew her sister.
 
When Kelsey, who is shaken by her world breaking apart, falls into a state of detachment, she begins contacting Michelle’s boyfriend. Peter. He doesn’t know what’s going on because he’s been shipped off to war, and Kelsey is faced with a difficult choice: tell him and risk his heartbreak or start impersonating Michelle? It is blatantly obvious which she will choose, but that’s not the point. The real question is: is she doing it for Peter or for herself?
 
A MILLION MILES AWAY raises some interesting questions about the relationship between grief and action. 
 
Although Kelsey’s actions are shocking and frustrating, I like that that author Lara Avery provides some justification for them later on.  Also, because she is a high school senior, many readers will be able to connect to Kelsey’s personal fears, joys and hopes (especially dancers, who will relate to Kelsey’s passion).
 
A MILLION MILES AWAY raises some interesting questions about the relationship between grief and action. Most important of all: is Kelsey trying to actually become Michelle? Why?
 
However, the book also left me with some questions.  If Peter truly loved Michelle as he so poignantly stated on page 16, why is he not able to tell the difference between her and her sister? Are teenage girls in books always expected to have a fairytale romance, even when they’re recovering from a tragic life event? Lastly, why does Kelsey refer to the weather in Kansas as being “schizophrenic” and why does she then compare it to herself? Alas, I am afraid these questions will never be answered, but we must move on. 
 
One big thing I noticed is that Michelle is almost a manic pixie dream girl in her exaggerated wildness and edginess. She is supposed to be charming and unique --- she buys “elven-maiden” costumes. She is missed, loved and talked about. But in the end, she exists solely for Kelsey’s own development. Michelle’s death is of course terrible and damaging for Kelsey’s family, but as a storyline, it is brushed to the side to make room for the real goal of the book: developing Kelsey’s and Peter’s blossoming love story. 
 
A MILLION MILES AWAY is anchored on emotion and drama, but it tries far too hard to deliver as much “heartbreak” as possible and consequently comes off as melodramatic and overreaching rather than powerful and authentic. 
 
I would recommend A MILLION MILES AWAY to readers who just want a typical romantic story with lots of heartbreak and teen angst. 
 
On the bright side, I liked that Kelsey remembers specific quirks about people that she likes that aren’t always positive, just unique to the person. This was both realistic and thoughtful. 
 
I would recommend A MILLION MILES AWAY to readers who just want a typical romantic story with lots of heartbreak and teen angst. If you like reading about high school, art and forbidden love, this might be the book for you, if you won’t mind some cheesiness. 

Reviewed by Thien-kim H., Teen Board Member on September 2, 2015

A Million Miles Away
by Lara Avery