Friday, July 26, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away

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.

When Erika’s best friend, teen beauty queen Cassandra Abbott, disappears during the early hours of Memorial Day 1977, Erika isn't exactly surprised. After all, they’ve been plotting and planning Cassie’s escape for months. But then Cassie’s departure unleashes a whirlwind of questions, suspicions and accusations that Erika never expected. She’s lying to the police. She’s being bullied by older students. Worst of all, she’s starting to doubt she ever REALLY knew Cassie Abbott at all. Under the weight of scrutiny and confusion, Erika struggles just to breathe...until a strange new movie transforms her summer with A New Hope

For Erika, Star Wars changes EVERYTHING. So she volunteers to do chores for a local theater owner 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. As the summer wears on, tensions escalate over the unsolved mystery surrounding Cassie’s disappearance. Someone seems to think Erika knows too many of Cassie's secrets. Eventually, Erika must step out of the shadows and, armed only with her Super 8 camera and the lessons she's learned from Star Wars, fight to save herself and the theater that has become her second home. Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away is a quirky, contemporary, coming-of-age novel set during the earliest days of the Star Wars fan phenomenon.

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. 

About Trisha Slay:
Trisha Slay is a writer with a passion for storytelling. She has studied at the Institute of Children’s Literature as well as furthering her skills through online workshops. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and the Atlanta Writer’s Club. She enjoys participating in writing groups and spends a great deal of time improving her craft. Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away is her first novel.

Tricia hopes Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away would be compared to Looking for Alaska by John Green and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. She has said that "If those two books had a Star Wars-obsessed little sister, I'd like to think she would be my novel."

Tricia lives between the Atlanta metro area and the North Georgia Mountains, but hails originally from the way of the San Francisco Bay area. When she is not working on her next book (tentatively titled Sometimes We Strike Back), her interests include: 70s pop culture; unsolved mysteries; Star Wars (original trilogy); historic movie theaters; haunted history; reading (especially YA novels); nutrition/weight watchers/healthy vegetarian cuisine; hiking (exploring the National Forest trails with her guy); yoga/meditation; miscellaneous crafting projects (that rarely turn out as envisioned); and writing letters she never intends to mail.

Find out more about the author by visiting her online:

Trisha’s website:

Twitter: @SlaytheWriter

Thanks to Trisha and Crystal over at WOW! Women on Writing, I have one copy of Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away to give away. You know you want to win a free book, so enter at the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Dora Balfour-Lyda said...

Want to read this!

lsmoore49 said...

This book sounds like a wonderful story. I love that era as I graduated in '76 and think the story will be wonderful. I would love to read it. Thanks for the chance. :)