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Very Far Away from Anywhere Else

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  2,396 ratings  ·  294 reviews
Owen is seventeen and smart. He knows what he wants to do with his life. But then he meets Natalie and he realizes he doesn't know anything much at all.

A slender, realistic story of a young man's coming of age, Very Far Away from Anywhere Else is one of the most inspiring novels Ursula K. Le Guin has ever published.
Paperback, 133 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published July 1st 1976)
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3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,396 ratings  ·  294 reviews

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I always expect the best from Ursula Le Guin but considering story of this book is set roughly 50 years ago half the world away I didn't expect it to be so relatable.

No big WOW moments or plot twists just realistic and relatable coming of age story written in Le Guin's beautiful prose.
Nov 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: I is for intellectual
Recommended to Mariel by: D is for decide
Have you ever walked down an empty street at night and not be able to help noticing the bright lights inside of the warm houses? It's a cliche but people look sad, or happy, or anything else there is to feel. It's that feeling of knowing that people are feeling something and it's got nothing whatsoever to do with you. You're outside, alone, and no one notices you, or your freaking cute dog. Other times are the best. Listening to music on headphones and getting goosebumps from favorite songs. Eve ...more
Dec 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
The emotional experiences described in this book rang poignantly true and familiar even if a few superficial details didn't. I have great admiration for the author's boldness and skill in articulating the "fog" of teenage psychological turnover without being vague, indirect, or simplifying it out of recognition. I didn't read this when I was a teenager, and I'm not sure what it would have meant to me then, because I hadn't yet really had the experiences it describes. Reading it now, I was able t ...more
Cheryl Klein
Jun 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
And this is my favorite YA novel ever -- when it was out of print, I went to the New York Public Library and copied every page of it just so I'd have a copy for myself. There's very little story to it, and it's not for everyone, certainly, but if you were a "sensitive" teenager who loved reading and thinking and felt a little out of step with everyone else, THIS IS THE BOOK. It's criminally underknown.
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: coming-of-age
"If you'd like a story about how I won my basketball letter and achieved fame, love, and fortune, don't read this. I don't know what I achieved in the six months I'm going to tell you about. I achieved something, all right, but I think it may take me the rest of my life to find out what."

So begins this book by an author known for her intelligent adult science fiction novels and equally intelligent fantasy novels for young adults. But Ursula Le Guin has also written a few contemporary young adult
Sara J. (kefuwa)
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fiction
This book was a total cover buy (window shopping for vintage covers on betterworldbooks because I am miles away from a used books store). This was more or less on point with my approximation of what a YA romance coming from Ms Le Guin would read like. Poignant, wistful and really spoke to the heart (mine at least). And (in K. Le Guin fashion) somehow also manages to touch on some pretty hefty social issues right alongside those growing pain issues without any weight throwing whatsoever and witho ...more
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
The scary thing about this story is the fact that Owen is a 17-year-old teenager from a time before I was even born and I perfectly understand his thought process; I can relate to him completely, despite of our age difference and the general time difference. It surely says something about this book, the fact that I found myself in it. Or it says something about me...or both. But whether that is a good thing or not, I'm still not quite sure.

"We talked about life....And the sea was there, forty f
Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, I subscribed to a literary magazine called Cicada that mixed realism and genre, stories by teenage authors with stories by professionals. (It's still in print, apparently. Good for it.) Every two months issues appeared on my doorstep, introducing me to new works by Neil Gaiman, Patricia McKillip, Naomi Shihab Nye. I didn't love everything they printed, but I loved a lot of it--and I fell particularly hard and deep for "Very Far Away from Anywhere Else," whic ...more
A children's literature professor recommended this book in a class I took years ago, and I wish I had read it then. At first, I compared it somewhat unfavorably to newer YA novels I've read, perhaps because the plot starts out relatively slowly. I once took a personality test that determines whether you are a nerd, geek, or dork, and while I'm not going to disclose my results, I'm pretty sure Owen, the protagonist, would have gotten all of the above. And back in the seventies, before nerd pride ...more
Aug 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Very Far Away From Anywhere Else is written by Ursula K. LeGuin, best known for her fantasy/sci-fi books.

But she also writes other material, and this slight novel (a bare 87 pages, more of a novella) is really good. I first read it in 1981, 27 years ago. But time has not diminished this story of a young man who feels different that other high schoolers, and feels quite alone. He finds a friend in a headstrong young woman...someone he really feels himself with. But by his actions, he messes up th
Feb 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
I thought I might have read this already, but picked it up in the Amnesty bookshop anyway. Turns out I had. Very dated and remarkably heavy-handed message for the woman who wrote so eloquently that books should be about story, not message. But it's a good message and there's a lot to like in the book despite the preaching. Its being so short helps enormously too!
Dec 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ursula Le Guin has a knack for writing books and having their themes rediscovered (in someone else's hands) 30 years later. Example - Earthsea series - Harry Potter; this book - Eleanor and Park. This book does an amazing job of highlighting the expectation and frustration that young adults feel - caught between their dreams, their parents' expectations and the social norms of what they "should do". It's striking to me that Le Guin can write across so many genres - Science Fiction, Fantasy, Youn ...more
Nov 06, 2011 rated it liked it
I love Ursula Le Guin's writing, usually. Maybe I came to this one a bit too late: maybe it would have said a lot more to me when I was a teenager myself. I think she's got the type of teenagers she's going for down well: so terribly serious about themselves and their relationships and their careers, close to flying the nest but not ready yet.

The problem, I think, was that even though she wrote in first person, her prose always has a slightly distant quality. Often, it works, but here, I expecte
Feb 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance
The characters – Natalie and Owen, the narrator – are a bit. . .incredible. Well, not really incredible. Natalie’s focused in a way that most teenagers aren’t, and Owen – Owen’s very, very smart and very, very stupid.
The story is very beautiful and almost tragic, but not quite. Le Guin captures the confusion and uncertainty of adolescence but the story lacks intensity. It’s told with too much detachment. Le Guin develops this voice of detachment in many of her stories with great effect, but with
Vita Mia Orfeo
I did absolutely jot like this. It didn't make sense to me, I don't what happened when I read it, but I really didn't like it.
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
For such a little book, it was a really heavy read. Owen had a lot going on in his head, but I feel like the conclusion came on too suddenly and too easily solved. Also, why was he recording things? Why was he going to type it all up? I feel like I get the gist of what he was going to do, but if he decided not to, where was that moment where he's stopped recording?

Very quotable and I could really see the ideologies and diction of the 70's in there.

Happy reading!
Oct 12, 2008 rated it liked it
First of all: the cover on this edition is total bullshit. LeGuin goes out of her way to describe the main character as having messy hair and Natalie as err "stocky." The two kids on the cover look straight out of the O.C., which is exactly not the kind of people the book is about.

The problem I have with this story is that it doesn't feel like a teenage boy speaking (at one point, he claims that he is speaking the text into a tape recorder and then typing it out), it feels like an older woman's
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, fiction, young-adult
I don't read a lot of regular fiction, but this book appealed to me for several reasons:

1) It's by Ursula K. Le Guin.

2) It's super short.

3) It was a discard from the library I used to visit when I was a kid, the one where my grandmother volunteered as a front desk person for 20 years.

4) I needed something the complete opposite of a depressing vampire/zombie post-apocalyptic story.

It was definitely a super-quick read. I liked Owen and Natalie, and was happy to watch their friendship develop. The
Carrie Smith
Nov 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I was very lukewarm on the book for the first 90 pages. An easy read yet distant and unfamiliar. You get a good sense of main character's struggles and personality but I didn't feel a true connection between him and Natalie. The last 40 pages really picked up nicely and made you stop and think about purpose, priorities and your place in the real world. Or in the world of Thorn. One young mans confusion on the ability to live life and life's purpose. Especially since he's only been listening to t ...more
May 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
When I first read this book, in high school, I absolutely loved it. I know I felt like it changed my life. Now, from the distance of something like 30 years, I can't remember what it was that was so great about it. But, I trust myself that if I thought it changed my ilfe, it probably did. It's a good enough book, a good story. Definitely for teenagers and other young people. :-)
Jan 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a super quick read and a coming-of-age novel. It's a bit dated, and lacks depth, but it has several memorable lines and could be a good read for intellectually advanced teenagers dealing with social isolation.
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is really beautiful - a novella more than a full novel, but so clean in how it describes the messiness of being a teenager who doesn't fit. Le Guin is just as exacting and loving toward modern-day human Earth teenagers as she is to any of her fictional species.
Lilly Hancock
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I though this book was okay, but not great. I liked it and enjoyed it enough to finish it, but I found that some of it just used confusing wording and was outdated. I don't mind that is was dated, but some of the things that happen seem a little unrealistic. I would give it 3/5 stars. Nevertheless, it was a sweet story and a quick read. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes romance, because it is a love story of sorts. I would also recommend it to people who like realistic fiction, bec ...more
Apr 14, 2017 added it
Shelves: favorites
I really enjoyed this book and here's why I added it to favorites:
-it's a ya romance which I actually liked for the first time after John Green
-it's by Ursula K. le Guin who is an amazing author
-it's not her usual genre which makes it even more crazy by how realistic the characters were
-it's an easy, quick read
-and in the end it's a page turner which I enjoy during the school year.
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing up from the perspective of a teenage loner.
Anxiety and misunderstoodism marbled with youthful hope of all the open doors and paths not taken.
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Im not crying you're crying
Hannah Nelson
Jun 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: second-10
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Larissa Cavazos
Nov 12, 2015 rated it liked it
He is weird. People don't like him ,and he doesn't like them. She is nice; an independent and ambitious girl. When Owen meets Natalie, their whole world crumbles down into a unknown, adventurous land. This is a 17 year old that thinks he has all figured out; actually, he has nothing.

(view spoiler) She is a talented musician that doesn't has friends; exactly what he needs to get his parents off his ba
Ursula K. Le Guin often spends great detail and time trying to build the worlds of her various novels. However this brief volume summarizes some of the best elements of her writing into a very "true" story, that explores great themes of the coming of age stories and psychology that she addresses in many of her works (especially Wizard of Earthsea), but in a real world setting.

I read this book in a single day, and plan to read it several times again. This book tells a story that I can equate to a
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
I liked this a lot. It felt very recognizable, in a way most YA I read these days doesn't. I talked like these characters did, dreamed like they did, FELT like they did. (And, well, that doesn't need to be past tense! I may be 10 years older than them, but it's still relatable.)

Slight spoiler! (view spoiler)
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Ursula K. Le Guin published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. She lived in Portland, Orego ...more
“I think what you mostly do when you find you really are alone is to panic. You rush to the opposite extreme and pack yourself into groups - clubs, teams, societies, types. You suddenly start dressing exactly like the others. It's a way of being invisible. The way you sew the patches on the holes in your blue jeans becomes incredibly important. If you do it wrong you're not with it. That's a peculiar phrase, you know? With it. With what? With them. With the others. All together. Safety in numbers. I'm not me. I'm a basketball letter. I'm a popular kid. I'm my friend's friend. I'm a black leather growth on a Honda. I'm a member. I'm a teenager. You can't see me, all you can see is us. We're safe. And if We see You standing alone by yourself, if you're lucky we'll ignore you. If you're not lucky, we might throw rocks. Because we don't like people standing there with the wrong kind of patches on their jeans reminding us that we're each alone and none of us is safe.” 15 likes
“Maybe when you meet the people you are supposed to meet you know it, without knowing it.” 12 likes
More quotes…