Arminzerella's Reviews > Far from Xanadu

Far from Xanadu by Julie Anne Peters
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** spoiler alert ** Mike (Mary Elizabeth) Szabo is a hard-hitting fast softball playing teen dyke. She’s not at all comfortable with her sexuality, although she admits she’s falling hard and fast for Xanadu, the new girl in town. Mike has a host of family issues – her father committed suicide two years ago, her brother has run the family business into the ground (by not running it at all), her mother hasn’t spoken to her since the death of her husband, and she’s full of dreams and aspirations (and hormones) that she can’t do anything about. Then, it seems like she can forget a tiny part of that just by being friends with Xanadu. Xanadu is, of course, the quintessential bad girl. She’s been exiled to this podunk town because she was caught selling drugs – and some of the drugs she sold killed another girl. She’s a bit distraught over this, but she hasn’t exactly changed all of her ways. While she seems to honestly like Mike, she’s not a lesbian herself, and she seems to know all of the things to say and do to keep Mike strung along. Mike’s best friend, the flaming Jamie, can see this, but Mike can’t.

Mike’s coach thinks she’s a really talented player, and that her softball skills could get her out of that town and give her a better future. She doesn’t have to be stuck where she is. Mike is reluctant to take any charity from anyone – they want her to ask for money so she can go to a special softball camp where she’d be scouted for sure. Plus this whole thing with Xanadu is so frustrating. And, in addition to that, people have been asking her to look at their plumbing, so theoretically she could go back into the family business. Finally, someone writes an article about Mike that runs in the paper, and soon there are collection cans out all over town so people can donate to her camp fund. She’s pissed, but she can’t figure out who’s done this to her.

Meanwhile, Xanadu starts dating Bailey – a gorgeous, but brainless bohunk. And she really loves him. She’s nervous about telling Bailey about her sordid past. When she finally does get her courage up to tell him, he breaks up with her. That night she comes to Mike and they end up in bed together. Nothing too explicit (kissing for sure, but who knows what else). Mike has already professed her love for Xanadu, who says she loves Mike as a friend, but not more. Now it seems, however, like things have changed, and Mike wants so much to believe that. And then Bailey forgives Xanadu, and then Xanadu says that it was all a mistake between her and Mike.

It’s a story of longing and unrequited love, with a lot of family issues that need to be worked out. We learn that Mike’s brother Darryl is not the low life jerk that she believes him to be, that her whole family is wounded by the death of dad, but that they’re all dealing (or not dealing) with it in different ways. There’s a lot of pain and hurt to be explored. And Mike finally realizes (maybe too neatly) that Xanadu is not a possibility and that there are other girls like her out in the world, ones who could love her back the way she wants and needs. She also realizes that maybe her fate isn’t to be stuck in Colton the rest of her life. It ends optimistically with Mike having a heart-to-heart with her brother and imagining how she might be somewhere and someone different someday.

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Wow, I wrote this ages ago and it's ALL about the plot and there's nothing about what I thought of it. From what I remember, I really liked how capable Mike was - she was very independent, talented, and knew all of this stuff about plumbing. Useful skills. Get her out of Colton, PLEASE, so that she can be amazing somewhere where she's really appreciated and can find the community and love she deserves!
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