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Far from Xanadu

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  3,802 ratings  ·  195 reviews
From the author of Luna comes this heartbreaking yet hopeful novel about a small-town girl who falls in love with the cool, complicated, and sexy new girl in town, but who is just out of reach.

In this fresh, poignant novel Mike is struggling to come to terms with her father's suicide and her mother's detachment from her family. Mike (real name Mary Elizabeth) is gay and
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 15th 2008 by Megan Tingley Books (first published May 4th 2005)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  3,802 ratings  ·  195 reviews

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After reading a fascinating study of library services to GLBTQ teens for one of my classes ([]), I started reading more of the literature being written for this young adult population. Far from Xanadu is one of the most recent and possibly my favorite so far, largely owing to the unique voice of its narrator, Mike Szabo - a 16-year-old girl.

Nee Mary Elizabeth - but don't call her that unless you want a knuckle sandwich - Mike and her best friend, Jamie,
Pretend You Love Me touches on a lot of interesting and important topics, but I never connected with Mike at all, which is a huge problem for a character driven novel. Mike is just going about her life: work, school, trying not to think about her father's suicide. Then Xanadu transfers to her school, and Mike cannot keep her eyes or thoughts off of her. After a bit of an awkward first meeting (Xana thinks Mike is a guy), the two become fast friends, although Mike wants more and thinks Xana might ...more
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is freaking amazing. It is just the right amount of difficulty so that you have to use your brain powere to understand what's going on at first, but once you catch on it's not too difficult to keep up. It is a little sad... this is a trend of mine if you didn't notice, but the rest of the story made up for it. I don't wish to give anything of the plot away, and I warn you not to read the back to give it away. It's best to figure it out on your own. But it is amazingly written, and ...more
Jan 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
I would give this book a 3.5 if that were possible. Far From Xanadu has a different feel from Julie Anne Peters's other books. The writing seems more choppy, maybe? I thought this was better than Keeping You a Secret, not as good as Luna or Between Mom and Jo. I liked the emotional side of it and the pacing. It didn't seem as fast a read as some of her other books were.

Mike is a likeable narrator and main charactor. I enjoyed watching her develop as a character. Her brother, Daryl, also grows
Aug 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
This was a short coming of age story about a girl named Mike struggling with her Dad's suicide. I actually liked Mike a lot, she was very angsty but I felt like she was a complex character. I wasn't a fan of most of the side characters, except Jamie. Xanadu was incredibly annoying, and I could feel how everything she was doing was an act (just like Jamie said it was). I think the ending really highlighted the relationship Mike had with her brother, Darryl. She was very hostile towards him ...more
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
AAAA this book was so heartbreaking. I connected really well with Mike the main character because she also finds it difficult to give in and ask people for help. The tragedy of falling for a straight girl doesn't help matters for her, and reading it was a bittersweet experience (sometimes more bitter than sweet). It's emotional, moving, difficult in places, but ultimately so worth the read.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second Julie Anne Peters book. Pretend You Love Me is about a lesbian girl named Mike who loves to work out, play softball, and fix plumbing in her small Kansas town. She also has a best friend named Jamie who is also gay--but much more outspoken and flamboyant about it than she is. Mike is still dealing with her father's suicide and mother's detachment (and growing weight problem) when a new girl named Xanadu moves to town. Mike immediately falls for Xanadu and soon learns the ...more
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
I hate to mark a Julie Anne Peters novel so low, because I have a lot of affection for her work. Her YA novel, "Keeping You a Secret" is dear to my heart, and she's further shown her ability to write subtle, emotionally honest fiction in her shorter pieces. "Far from Xanadu" did not even come close to throwing me off the Peters bus, but something about it just didn't connect for me. The concept--LGBT youth falls for a straight girl--is intriguing; loving someone who cannot love you back is a ...more
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
While this book is a fast read it is also a serious read. Mike (born Mary Elizabeth) Szabo is a dedicated student, an outstanding softball player and a good friend to her best friend Jamie, the town's flaming male cheerleader. She is also tortured by her father's suicide, her mother's morbid obesity and refusal to acknowledge Mike's presence, and her brother's neglect of the family business. Enter Xanadu, a new girl (orientation? straight.) in school with a troubling past who sparks an immediate ...more
Kyle Moore
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being someone apart of the LGBT community, I really was excited to see this book. When I read it, I really thought that it was a page-turner, and I thought that there were some parts that were really cool. I loved the characters, I loved the character Mike and for the most part I could relate to pretty much everything that she was feeling. On the other hand, I hated Xanadu, she was the kind of person that I would never fall for, no matter what. I was actually appalled at how easily and how ...more
Jul 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
I agree with other reviews that this small Midwestern town is a little too good to be true. That said, this is yet another sensitive look at growing up queer from Julie Ann Peters. I don't want to mention my favorite aspect of the book because it's an absolute spoiler, but if anyone else has read past the first 50 pages or so, let me know and we can chat about it - because it RULES.
Rebecca Luebcke
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
The only character I liked in this book was the best friend. The other characters just made me so mad. And I know you aren't supposed to like every character in a book, I just happened to like most in this one. It was real. I just didn't like the characters reality.
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favoritebooks
I didn't relate to this very well, being that I've never had a crush on someone who didn't feel the same way, but the sad story of a reluctant lesbian with a crush on a straight girl was thought-provoking and inspiring as well. I thought Mike was a cool main character. :)
Ollie Bradshaw
Jun 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book will make feel for Mike as he goes for the Xanadu.
El Perry
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mike Szabo, teenaged baby dyke living in small town Kansas, is dealing with the suicide of her father, the rest of her fucked up family, and the fact that she'll be stuck in said small town for the rest of her life. The novel starts with the introduction of a love interest(?), a straight girl from out of town named Xanadu.

Mike falls in love with Xanadu the moment she sees her, but throughout the novel, it's hard to glean the reasons behind this other than Xanadu being hot. She's not a
Linh Nguyen
In my humble opinion, this book was fascinating to read but the father I go the more downgrade it gets and should receive 3 out of 5 stars. My three main reasons for this rating is because of the prompt, the main theme, and how the writer expresses her writing.
If I were to rate just the first of the book, I would give that part 4 out of 5 stars mostly because of the first impression. The characters are Mike, Xanadu, Jamie, Darryl. They live in a small town name Coalton in Kansas. The way the
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book =/ I mean, who hasn't been there, falling for someone unattainable? I could understand the main character's nature, but her pride, and her outright meanness to everyone except her hopeless crush made me want to smack her upside the head and tell her not to be so delusional. Usually, I don't hate a character so much, but Mike, formerly Mary Elizabeth, out of Far from Xanadu, aka Pretend You Love Me? Yep. I hated her. XP

I mean, I get it. Her dad drank and
After her father's untimely death leaves so many loose ends that all threaten to strangle her, Mike is wondering how to believe in a future again. Is she relegated to staying in her small town, working at the Merc and sneaking in projects of fixing sinks and toilets as an unlicensed plumber for the rest of her life? Is her only chance at love with a wild, new girl who seems more interested in snagging the attention of the local "cowboy?" Or does being a star fast-pitch softball player hold the ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I adored this book when I first read it. It touched on so many themes and managed to subvert a lot of tropes. I was really impressed. When Mike debated what to do with her future, I rolled my eyes and muttered away, bossing around a book character. When that happens, it just means I'm really into a book and I really care. I was glad when Mike did what I wanted, although her method of reaching the decision broke my heart. I hated her love interest with a passion, but I wanted Mike to be happy. I ...more
Macy Davis
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
This story just didn't do it for me (except for a couple things about the ending which I really appreciated). I was excited going in because this story is set in western KS (theoretically in Wallace County which isn't too far from where I grew up), but I quickly realized that a lot of the little details that really would have sold this story for me (geography, culture, etc...) just weren't there or were just plain wrong. That was frustrating because there are next to no YA/Children's books set ...more
Isabella Jones
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've always been a fan of the true to life high school writing, and this book fit the bill. With realistic characters and a believable ending of the story. (Even if you're routing for Mike.) Really good story and writing. Easy to wrap your brain around and still provoke some emotions. Though the characters are a little stereotypical, they still feel real. Saying all this, I still wouldn't recommend it to anyone, more to people who feel like they can relate to a part of the story.
Samantha Marquis
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If someone asked me "how would you define this book with one word?" i would say, relatable.
Anyone in the lgbtq community has known what it feels like to have feelings for someone who will never be able to return those feelings. This book shows you that you can still appreciate what you cant have.
Melissa Kidd
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it
First love is always hard. I didn't love this book but I didn't hate it either. The story was good, the writing was good, but it is a young adult book and thus lacked as much meat on it as I always hope for. Regardless, I've always liked Peter's books. While I liked a few of her other books a bit more than this one, it was an entertaining read.
Linda Lorentz
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Finished this book about 2:30 AM this morning. I very seldom stay up this late but knew I probably wouldn't go to sleep wondering how things would turn out. Absolutely loved this book. Couldn't help but adore the main character.
Alexis Williams
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book really spoke to me. It was on an LGBT to read list, and I picked it up when I saw it. I enjoyed it so much, as it made everything I fear into a reality, and then smashed it. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone.
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt
I love Julie Anne Peter's writing. She gives such depth to her characters that almost anyone can relate. This novel repeated that process. Lots of gender constructs are questioned and the characters are very unique.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookshelf
I think that the ending could have been a little better, but overall, it was an interesting book to read. A little slow, and not much happened in my opinion, but hey, if you're into slow pasted books and LGBTQ+ and romance, then this book is for you!
Krista Koger
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, romance, lgbt
Loved it all the way to the end. Definitely wish there was a sequel.
Elle Musoke
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Two stars because Mike bench presses curling weight on heavy chest day.
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When you start reading, you think it's about a girl crushing on a girl, but it's not just that. Mike begs for love from so many people! Awesome book.
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Julie Anne Peters was born in Jamestown, New York. When she was five, her family moved to the Denver suburbs in Colorado. Her parents divorced when she was in high school. She has three siblings: a brother, John, and two younger sisters, Jeanne and Susan.

Her books for young adults include Define "Normal" (2000), Keeping You a Secret (2003), Luna (2004), Far from Xanadu (2005), Between Mom and Jo
“Miracles don't happen. You make them happen. They're not wishes or dreams or candles on a cake. They're not impossible. Reality is real. It's totally and completely under my control.” 92 likes
“Wiping the rivulet of sweat running down my ear with the bottom of my muscle shirt, I snuck a sniff under my pit. Whoa. Kill a moose” 4 likes
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