Maggie's Reviews > Getting Somewhere

Getting Somewhere by Beth Neff
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's review
Feb 14, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, debut-novels
Read from March 26 to April 15, 2012

Every once in a while, to prove that Goodreads isn't the boss of me, I'll read a book that none of my friends have read or reviewed. (Meanwhile, Goodreads is all, Step back three paces. Turn around.) I can't remember how I first came across Getting Somewhere, but I remember that cover. I mean, just look at it! And the simple tagline: "Four girls. A million secrets." Count me in.

Getting Somewhere is about four strangers picked to live on a farm and have their lives monitored. To find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real... The Real World: Rural Michigan!

Lauren, Sarah, Jenna, and Cassie are average teenage girls, except that they are all in juvenile detention for various crimes. They get picked for a new rehabilitation program where they will be sent to a farm in the middle of nowhere to live, work, and get counseling. The book begins with Jenna getting off the bus in Hicksville, where she is greeted by Ellie, Grace, and Donna, the three women who run the farm.

Listen, I have no problem reading a book with seven characters of the same race and gender. But, unless their names are Happy, Dopey, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Bashful, and Doc, I'm going to have a tough time remembering them and telling them apart. This is both a positive and negative attribute of the book -- I loved that Neff refused to make her characters easily identifiable stereotypes for simplicity's sake, but it lessens the impact of the story when I can't remember why a detail is important to a certain character, or even who the character is at first. Donna? Sorry, girl, I kept forgetting who you were. For the record, she's the cook at the farm.

Another issue that I had, that also contributed to some disconnect with the characters, was that the story was told in the 3rd person present tense.
"Sarah thinks Ellie had better watch out for poisoned apples."

I'm making it sound like I didn't like this novel, and that's not true at all. In fact, I ended up buying the Kindle edition after a few chapters because I had so many notes scrawled on various scraps of paper. This book is gorgeously written. Neff draws pictures in my mind with her words. Take this line:
"Sarah shakes her head hard to dislodge the image, tries to listen to Donna's story, but her mind is like a cracked plate, too damaged to hold the contents."
I also liked the idea behind the prison farm and the book itself -- going back to basics and working the land, then working on yourself. At first we see the girls struggling to adapt as they learn basic farm skills. Then we gradually start to see the different reasons the girls ended up where they are, and the various issues holding them back. This isn't an action packed story, but rather a slow burn. The heat turns up slowly as we learn more about the characters until it erupts and the girls learn not everything can be undone. This is an ambitious, challenging, and ultimately rewarding book by debut author Beth Neff.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

This review appears on Young Adult Anonymous.
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Reading Progress

03/26/2012 page 22
5.0% ""That was her whole world, and now she suspects that none of it means anything. It's like realizing that the language you've learned is the wrong one for the country you're visiting, that not only will no one understand you but they will immediately recognize you as foreign...""
03/28/2012 page 44
10.0% ""Her hands are still shaky, and she imagines the little electrical impulses traveling from brain to muscle as twinkling lights, Tinkerbell hopping and jingling along the strands of nerves, learning the route again after having been on a drug vacation.""
22.0% "I had to buy the Kindle version because I was taking so many notes and it was slowing me down trying to keep track of them on various scraps of paper."
38.0% "A slower read, but it still has my interest."
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message 1: by Noelle (new)

Noelle I love that cover.

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