A Million Miles Away – Lara Avery.

Many thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via NetGalley for an opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review!

4/5 stars.

Loved this book.  Yes, it did (somewhat) necessitate that I suspend my disbelief for some aspects of the book, but it really was quite good.  The gist of the book is that Kelsey has a twin sister, Michelle (nickname: Mitch), and Michelle has a boyfriend named Peter who was just deployed to Afghanistan.  However, between Peter’s deployment (as in, the actual traveling to Afghanistan) and the time when he next gets to Skype with his girlfriend, Michelle dies in a tragic car accident — and Peter doesn’t get notified about that happening.

However, conveniently, Kelsey looks so much like her twin sister that she and Mitch have been mistaken for one another.  When Peter first Skypes “Mitch,” Kelsey answers it without really realizing what she was going to get into… and from then on it’s a huge “game” of Kelsey pretending to be Mitch, for Peter’s sake.  She justifies faking who she is so Peter will not be heartbroken AND at war at the same time, especially since Peter keeps saying stuff like “I can’t wait to see you” and “you’re one of the best/only things that I can think about here that remotely keeps me sane” (total paraphrasing on my part).

I guess for me, the hard part came in with Peter not realizing that it was Kelsey, not Mitch, that he was Skyping and emailing with.  It’s not because I don’t think two people can look so similar, but the identical twins I’ve known have had “tells” that let me know which one is which, after I’ve had time to get to know them.  Granted, Peter and Mitch were only dating for 3 months prior to his deployment, and I’m not exactly sure how much time they spent together, but it was a little hard for me to believe that Kelsey could either fake being Mitch that well, or that Peter wouldn’t pick up on some tells that it was actually Kelsey and not Mitch that he was talking with on Skype.

But overall, it was a good story.  Predictably, Kelsey ends up falling for Peter, but the actual ending was a surprise.  I’m glad it didn’t end the way I was expecting it to (although, spoiler — it’s a happy ending).  I did think it a little odd that a bigger deal wasn’t made out of Mitch’s death, and that no one really paid any attention to Kelsey in terms of how she was handling her grief.  Again, not a big problem, and I guess it would make sense in some families/communities, but for me it did require a little suspension of disbelief.

Definitely would recommend to anyone who likes contemporary YA.  This is a romance, I guess, but it’s also part of an overarching theme — in terms of “what would you do in this situation?”  And that is a very difficult question to answer, for me at least.  Well done, Ms Avery!  Another author for me to add to my radar! 🙂

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