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As Far As You’ll Take Me – Phil Stamper

Thank you so much to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me a eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Marty arrives in London with nothing but his oboe and some savings from his summer job, but he’s excited to start his new life–where he’s no longer the closeted, shy kid who slips under the radar and is free to explore his sexuality without his parents’ disapproval.

From the outside, Marty’s life looks like a perfect fantasy: in the span of a few weeks, he’s made new friends, he’s getting closer with his first ever boyfriend, and he’s even traveling around Europe. But Marty knows he can’t keep up the facade. He hasn’t spoken to his parents since he arrived, he’s tearing through his meager savings, his homesickness and anxiety are getting worse and worse, and he hasn’t even come close to landing the job of his dreams. Will Marty be able to find a place that feels like home?

As Far As You’ll Take Me is the second novel by Phil Stamper that I have read and throughly enjoyed. This novel shows how much he has developed in terms of the topics tackled in the book and his overall writing style. This is one of those books that I am sure so many people will love and learn so much from.

I was a big fan of Phil Stamper’s first novel, The Gravity of Us, which I read a year or so ago now, so of course I was incredibly excited to read his latest novel! This book is set in Europe which I loved because we’ve not had the chance to travel for a while and this book felt like going on a little holiday.

Marty as a main character is wonderful and he is such a fun character to see the world through the eyes of. Marty suffers with anxiety and it is discussed in this book in a great way. I throughly enjoyed seeing where Marty was at the start of the book compared to the end. I loved the passion for music that bursts out from the page and it really brought a smile to my face. 

Throughout this book we see Marty develop an eating disorder. This can of course be triggering for a number of people so please read this book with care and check for other warnings before reading. It was interesting to see how an eating disorder can start, especially when it comes to how those with an eating disorder desire to be seen by others. As well as how just casual comments can really affect someone. My only issue with this part of the storyline is that it feels quite superficial and the whole aspect was not developed enough for me. It did feel quite like an afterthought.

Toxic friendships and also toxic relationships are another thing dealt with within this book. This topic is approached so much better than the other topics. We see Marty learn to navigate which people have a positive impact on his life and how to deal with those who leave a negative impact on him and his life. We see him learn to find friends who make him realise what friendship is meant to be like. It can be way too easy to make excuses for ‘friends’ actions without realising the impact that they have on you and your life. It is the perfect example of found family and it made me very happy. 

This book is set mainly in London but other locations in Europe are explored. It is fun to read about travelling in a book, especially at the moment. The descriptions are both accurate but also you can often tell they are through the eyes of an American. Aside from that, the writing in this book is easy to follow and it flows nicely.

Overall, this book is very character-driven, is wonderfully paced and I enjoyed it a lot. It is an excellent YA LGBTQ+ contemporary standalone that I will be recommending a lot. I would just recommend checking out content warnings before reading this one. I am excited to see what Phil Stamper writes in the future.

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