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Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away

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When Erika helps her best friend, teen beauty queen Cassie Abbott, escape their “Nowhere, Ohio” town, she promises to keep all of their secrets safe, but then the days stretch into weeks with no word from Cassie. Worse, the sheriff’s investigation into Cassie’s disappearance is making Erika doubt she ever really knew Cassie at all. Under the weight of scrutiny and confusion, Erika struggles just to breathe…until a new movie called Star Wars transforms her summer with a new hope.

For Erika, Star Wars changes everything! She volunteers to do chores for a local theater owner just to gain unlimited access to a galaxy far, far away from her current reality. At the Bixby Theater—a beautiful but crumbling movie palace from a more civilized era—Erika discovers new friendships, feels the crush of first love and starts an exciting new romance with Super 8 film making. But she can’t hide in a darkened movie theater forever.

316 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2013

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About the author

Trisha Slay

7 books7 followers
Trisha Slay grew up in a haunted house ... now she writes about restless spirits.

Her White Crow Mysteries are filled with supernatural suspense. Her debut novel — Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away — is a quirky coming-of-age story with an underlying mystery.

When she isn't hunched over a computer, she enjoys hiking with her husband and dog, hunting down new ghost stories, exploring historic cemeteries, sampling red wine, and flying her geek flag.

Connect with Trisha:

Receive updates and FREE White Crow eBooks via email:

Check out her Haunted Haiku (and other visual stories) on Commaful and Instagram:

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Sometimes she Tweets ... usually by accident:

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5 stars
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13 (40%)
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Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
26 reviews
October 8, 2013
I really enjoyed "Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away." The book is very vivid and takes you right there to the little town and the worn-out movie theater and the hot summer days and the pain of lost friendship and the excitement of first love.... I enjoyed the author's format of using letters together with narration. The letters help the reader understand the heroine and allows us to see her growth in character and self worth. I think the book is very readable for both adults and young adults.
Profile Image for OldBird.
1,534 reviews
May 4, 2019
A gorgeous, slightly geeky coming of age/slice of life tale for anyone who's ever felt like like they never quite fitted in.

Let's get this straight: it is not a story about Star Wars, nor is it a slavish love-letter to the fandom. You could read and appreciate it knowing very little about cinema or American pop culture of the 1970s (although if you do I'm sure the references would raise a smile).

This is the story of a 15 year old girl named Erika; she's not one of the popular kids, nor is she a down-and-out bullied geek. She hovers somewhere between the two, always in the shadow of her glamorous best friend Cassie. Only now at the start of summer 1977, Cassie's run away. Erika saw her the night she left, and now has the whole town breathing down her neck. Combined with the casual bile of her dance mom Anita, it's left her feeling more alone than ever. That is until she discovers Star Wars. It ignites her imagination, and leads her to join a volunteer crew at her local theater where she discovers awkward friendships and alliances that she never expected.

It's a really beautifully told story, drifting between Erika's narration and letters she writes to her missing friend Cassie. Erika's a great unreliable narrator, telling us how she sees things while logically we know there's more going on. It's amazing how well Cassie's character is woven throughout, how well we get to know her despite her being absent from the story itself. The colourful cast of gawky teens and adults with issues keeps you guessing just how everything's going to pan out. It's fairly gentle drama, but the twists are no less interesting for it. There's also a lot of heart to the story, though (thankfully) no overblown romance. Erika's flip-floppy teenage hormones are entirely relatable rather than jarring as she comes to terms with who she is and how she feels.

I'd recommend this one for anyone from fairly young YA audience up - there's no graphic violence, sex (though it's implied that people may or may not have at some point) or swearing (unless "good grief" counts!) There's something nostalgic about it, even if it's not your era/fandom. A small-town mystery with a big heart.

-I received a free ARC copy of this ebook from the author-
Profile Image for Elle.
993 reviews82 followers
May 13, 2019
** Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in return for a fair review. **

Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away by Trisha Slay was a fabulous surprise of a read. I was not expecting to love this as much as I did. The synopsis intrigued me enough to pick it up, but I was expecting an okay read...not a stellar one. Well...I was wrong. Despite the fact that I am not a huge Star Wars fan (sci-fi isn't largely in my wheelhouse), this plot was stupendous. Slay's writing is perfection. She drew me in with her development of an amazing character in Erika and then hooked me so well that I stayed up late into the night in order to finish. I couldn't put it down!

This will be a book that I purchase for my own library and one that I will be reading over and over again. It's a huggable book. In my literary world, that means a 5-star read.

Full gushing review at Erratic Project Junkie.
Profile Image for Bev.
2,777 reviews74 followers
May 25, 2019
Erika promised to keep Cassie's secret just that...a secret. So when it looks like Erika is the last person to see Cassie, things turn for the worse for her. She is trying her best to keep away from Cassie's father, and then all the bullying starts from others. With everything weighing heavy on her mind, she goes to the movies...Star Wars. For some reason, this movie gives her the break she needs. But she can't live in the movie theater, and someone thinks she knows more than she is telling. What will happen? You will need to read the book to find out. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.
32 reviews
May 30, 2019
I recieved a copy of this book for an honest review. I really enjoyed this book! It's a look into small town life and coming of age. What happens behind the scenes, the torture of school when you don't fit in, the secrets people keep, and how far they will go to hide them. How one movie changed a misfits life forever. I have enjoyed all of her books would recommend them for YA readers, and the young at heart.
Profile Image for J.C. Fuller.
Author 3 books38 followers
December 21, 2022
I absolutely LOVED this book! The Star Wars geek in me was thrilled with all of the references and quotes, the reader in me was intrigued and sucked into the story and characters. I was delighted with each page turn! Suspense, angst, laughter, tender moments, and a little romance. Five stars!
Profile Image for Annette.
1,710 reviews23 followers
May 3, 2019
I thought this book was really good! Great description and story! I remember when the very first Star Wars movie came out. It was wonderful!
Going to check out more of her books!!
Profile Image for Crystal Otto.
106 reviews15 followers
May 20, 2013
I don’t remember watching Star Wars and I was born two months after it was released in theaters, but novelist Trisha Slay made me feel as if I had been there in the theater taking in each frame of the film. Slay’s novel, Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away was so well written that I imagined myself a troubled teenager, coming of age and being transformed during the summer months of 1977.

Erika (the lead character) is the reason I loved this book, because she is every teenager girl; awkward in her own skin and unsure of herself. Not only does she struggle for acceptance, but struggles will self-doubt. Erika doesn’t see what the rest of the town sees which makes her character so real.

Erika had been the chunky side-kick to her teen beauty queen best friend, Cassie. When Cassandra disappeared, all the attention moved to Erika who had been plotting Cassie’s escape. Each question made Erika question whether she had really known Cassie at all. Erika even had her own doubts; she wondered if Cassie had arrived safely in Hollywood to live out her dream.

The summer was dragging on for Erika, with no word from Cassie. Erika would write letters to her friend. Letters she never intended to mail, but letters that helped her feel less alone, less like an outcast. Erika felt totally misunderstood and completely alone – that was until Star Wars was released. The movie and her summer cleaning at the Bixby Theater made all the difference in the world to Erika.

Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away is filled with interesting characters and even though the majority of the novel takes place at the Bixby Theater, Slay paints a lovely picture of the world surrounding Erika. The Bixby may be crumbling, but it is a lovely historical theater filled with plenty of rooms to explore.

Sonny and Jeff are fascinating characters, but the most intriguing character in the book may be the missing teenage beauty queen Cassie. I couldn’t decide if I loved her, felt sorry for her, or hated the way she seemed to leave her supposed best friend in her shadow.

Even though the story took place before I was born, you get the idea that parts of it happen every day in schools across the nation.

If you want to find out how Erika’s life was transformed, you’ll have to read Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away for yourself. I’m hoping Slay is working on a sequel because I can’t get enough of these characters and I want to know what happens next. I would definitely recommend this book to others; I give it two thumbs up!
Profile Image for Renee Roberson.
16 reviews1 follower
November 28, 2013
There were two specific reasons I was excited to read Trisha Slay’s young adult novel, Not So LongAgo, Not So Far Away. First of all, my husband is a huge Star Wars fan. And like Slay, he admits that the original Star Wars is not his favorite in the franchise, but rather, The Empire Strikes Back holds that place in his heart. Second, I am a huge movie buff and like the main character in the book, Erika, I too worked in a movie theater in high school. Mine didn’t quite have the historical charm of The Bixby Theater, but it was an amazing experience nonetheless and one I will never forget. It’s a fantastic backdrop for a novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed NSLA. The book is narrated by 15-year-old Erika Williams in the wake of her best friend Cassie’s escape from an abusive father and chief of the police. Hopeful that the beautiful and charismatic Cassie has made it safely to California, Erika also writes letters to her friend as she narrates a surprising turn of events in her small Ohio town during the summer of 1977.

The book showcases a colorful cast of characters, from Erika’s “Mother Monster” Anita to the corrupt members of the local sheriff’s office to the endearing yet tough motley crew at The Bixby. I especially loved the Bixby employees Sonny, also a student at Erika's high school, and Alex, the mysterious female theater projectionist and Vietnam vet. Throw in the enigmatic Cassie and a blockbuster summer movie that changed the lives of many fans all over the world, and you’ve got a recipe for a page turner. So many times the members of our workplace become like a surrogate family and this holds true in Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away. The pop culture references in this book added to the charm, from the bottles of Tab to the record players to the Super 8 video camera. I loved watching Erika transform from a scared young girl living miserably under her domineering mother’s roof to a blossoming filmmaker who stands up for the things she holds most sacred, including her self worth and the theatre that helped her reclaim her identity.
Profile Image for Cathy Hansen.
1 review
July 31, 2013
I was curious about this book for a couple of reasons: Much of it takes place around the time I was born, and I was curious to see how Star Wars tied in to the story. I was not disappointed!

I read a few chapters very late on the day the book arrived in the mail. I woke up the next morning wanting to know how things turned out for Erika, and I couldn't put it down until I'd turned the last page, less than 24 hours after the book arrived in my home!

A timid and awkward young Erika is the main character. She deals with the investigation into the whereabouts of her best friend, Cassie, all the while awaiting the postcard from Cassie to let her know she has safely 'escaped' their small town and the abuse she endured there. That said, the book does more than just tell the reader how Erika spent a few months of her life. Though set in the 1970's, significant issues that still apply to young people today are also explored. Erika faces cruel bullying at school and a less than ideal home life.

I especially enjoy the way the author describes a wide-range of characters. All of the stereotypical high school 'roles' are there, but in a very tasteful manner. I appreciate Erika's struggle as she learns from her own experiences and seems to make an effort to treat others kindly.

This is a story of a girl growing up, growing in confidence, and making her own way. It's also a suspenseful tale that makes you wonder what (or who) is around the next corner.
Profile Image for Lisa Eckstein.
509 reviews18 followers
July 1, 2013
Erika is a shy, awkward teenager in a small Ohio town in 1977, and her already crummy life has just gotten worse. Her best (and only) friend runs away from home, leaving Erika to deal with the fallout. Her controlling, criticizing mother is treating her more awfully than ever. And the kids at school taunt her through the final days of the school year. But everything changes for Erika when she sees the hit movie of the summer. Star Wars gives Erika a new hope, and all she wants to do is watch it over and over, so she volunteers at the local theater in exchange for unlimited viewings. There she meets the band of rebels who will become her friends, learns that some of the problems she's facing are more complicated than she thought, and also discovers that she has the power to fight back.

Erika and the other characters in this book are wonderful and multi-dimensional. I felt great sympathy for Erika in her struggles and kept rooting for her to recognize her own great qualities. Her emotions often seemed excessive to me, but I think it's an accurate portrayal for an adolescent character. The story has several subplots that work well together, including some romance and a bit of a mystery about what's going on in Erika's town. It always kept me engaged. The book is written for teens but can be enjoyed by anyone.
Profile Image for Cathy Hall.
Author 4 books16 followers
June 25, 2013
Erika’s summer starts dramatically when her best friend, Cassie, disappears from their small Ohio town. Dramatically for everyone except Erika, that is. She knows her friend has been planning her getaway—and she knows why. But as the summer progresses, Erika learns disturbing secrets about her missing friend, and she begins to wonder if she knew Cassie at all. When Stars Wars comes to town, Erika yearns for escape into the fantasy on the big-screen. She finagles a job at the Bixby, a run-down local theater so that she can watch Star Wars as much as she likes—and find her own getaway. But as the summer continues, Erika finds much more than she bargained for, hanging out with a ragtag group of theater employees.

She finds herself.

Admittedly, Trisha Slay had me with Star Wars. But NOT SO LONG AGO, NOT SO FAR AWAY is so much more than fangirl fic. Slay pulled me into the summer of '77, pulled me into these characters' lives, and made me care enough to keep the pages turning. The perfect summer coming-of-age for teen readers.

Though honestly, it was kinda perfect for this reader who grew up during a Star Wars summer, too.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Naranjo.
Author 2 books199 followers
February 28, 2014
Loved it. I'm a big Star Wars fan, although you don't need to be one to enjoy this book. The main character is endearing, and I was genuinely surprised more than once by turns in her story. The relationship between her and her mother seemed over-the-top at first, but it led somewhere believable.

I read an interview with this author where she talked about her struggles finding an agent because her book is set in the 70s. I'm glad she didn't change that; it's a big part of what makes this novel so charming.

Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

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