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As Far as You'll Take Me: 03/05/21
As Far as You'll Take Me by Phil Stamper is about a summer spent in England after the original plans fell through due to a botched audition. The book touches on anxiety, disordered eating, emotional abuse, and homophobia.
Seventeen year old Marty is an oboist who is using his mother's UK citizenship to enter post-Brexit Britain with a British passport. This will give the time he needs to find a job without the deadline of a visa.
Marty, though has two things going against him. He's gay but from a very religious family (and town). He's also living with anxiety. The anxiety more than his sexual orientation is his biggest hurdle for success early on in London.
Meeting up with a hot, gay, musician friend of his cousin on his literal first day in London, though, ends up complicating everything. The would be boyfriend knows how to push all of Marty's buttons. At first and second glance, and even after warnings from his cousin and new friends, he seems like the man of Marty's dreams. To anyone who is older and either been through a toxic relationship or knows someone who has will recognize the warning signs.
Most of As Far as You'll Take Me is Marty's journey of self discovery. He's learning how to live away from his parents. He's learning how to make friends that aren't ones thrown together at school. He's learning how to manage his anxiety. He's also learning how to recognize toxic relationships.
Marty's journey can also be placed on the road narrative spectrum. Because of his youth, his anxiety and how he sees himself, Marty is a marginalized traveler (66). His destination is home, both in the desire to make a home (66) for himself and in his realization at the end that he can go home to Kentucky and not have that decision be a point of failure. His route is the labyrinth (99). While all the problems I listed above could have presented a danger for Marty, he's lucky enough to have a support system in friends and family to make the troubles he face a transformative one. Thus As Far as You'll Take Me thematically is about a marginalized traveler finding his home via a metaphorical journey through the labyrinth (666699).