the reading glass critic's review

Title : From a Distance
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 278 pages
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8886150087
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 14.6 ounces
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.63 x 9 inches

When the reader first meets nineteen-year-old Sarah Lock, she is running away from her Dallas home. Though the reason why will only be revealed later in the story, it is clear that something terrible has happened to make this new bride believe that her best and only course of action is to get away from her husband. But just when it seems like she is set to lose herself in Oklahoma City and maybe start over, Sarah buys a bus ticket back home—and that is just the first questionable decision among many that she
makes over the length of the novel.

The story chronicles how Sarah eventually gets the courage and strength to free herself from her bad marital situation while finding a better love in the person of a young photographer named Kevin Lane. The couple then goes through some difficult times of their own, namely Sarah’s depression, before they resolve things and earn their happy ending. However, here is the main issue of the book: It is a character-driven story that unfortunately does not have very compelling characters.

So many emotional depths are not adequately explored in the story. For instance, it is revealed that Sarah once purposely messed up taking an IQ test and this got her unfairly labeled as being developmentally challenged. It is then implied that this unkind label followed her for most of her youth and indirectly influenced her decision to marry at such a young age in order to prove people wrong. However, the story also goes out of the way to show that her family is incredibly loving and supportive of her, so the emotional impact of this particular storyline is blunted before it even gets the chance to showcase more complex layers for the characters involved.

As for the other characters themselves, they mostly serve as vehicles for highlighting Sarah’s good or unique qualities as a person. But having someone describe how wonderful a character is isn’t the same as actually showing just what makes that person wonderful. Kevin is perhaps the strongest example of this phenomenon. Outside of his involvement with Sarah and a friendship with an elderly roommate, he does not really have a well-realized internal world of his own. He is not an equal partner in their relationship, which revolves around Sarah and her issues, and this makes the supposed bond between them not as convincing as it should be.

The uneven character work ultimately makes Vernon Bargainer’s From a Distance less than its initial promise, which is a shame since there is a beautiful tale of love and acceptance that awaits a reader within its pages.

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