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Far from Xanadu
by Juile Anne Peters
Book Review by Amy Coffin
Mike Szabo (don’t call her Mary Elizabeth) has grown up quickly in her sixteen years. It has been two years since her father jumped to his death from the town water tower. Mike tries to forget that fact by keeping busy with weightlifting, school, softball and work each day.

The monotony of Mike’s life is interrupted by the arrival of a new student in class. Her name is Xanadu. She has long red hair and she’s beautiful. For Mike, it is love at first sight.

The girls become fast friends and share their troubles. Mike wears her family woes like a weight, making every day a struggle in small Coalton, Kansas. Xanadu is sent to the rural town by her parents in Denver. She brings a police record and personal tragedy with her.

Far from Xanadu tells the heartfelt story of Mike Sazbo. She’s been forced to grow up too quickly. Her daily life leaves little time to be a typical teenager, if that’s even possible to do as a lesbian in rural Kansas.

Mike falls hard for Xanadu, who is in love with a local boy. Fellow homosexual Jamie provides support for best friend Mike and many funny one-liners for the story.

Julie Anne Peters has written another compelling novel for teens. Mike is an extremely well developed character that is easy to admire.

Far from Xanadu tackles real-life issues. Sexuality is addressed, but is just one subject of many. Peters provides an honest and moving portrayal of first love and heartbreak in a novel with wide appeal.

Highly recommended.

JulieAnnePeters.com

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