Title: Any Place But Here
Author: Sarah Van Name
Publication: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Teen, YA Fiction
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
Seventeen-year-old June can’t think of anything worse than being separated from her best friend, Jess. But at the end of her first semester of junior year she’s expelled for drinking at a school dance. It’s bad enough being expelled, but her parents decide to send her away to live with her grandmother in Virginia and attend the all-girls boarding school where her grandmother teaches. Miles away from home, her life, and most importantly, Jess, June is devastated.
She still talks to Jess every day and counts down the days until she can come back home for the summer. But as she befriends new girls at school, and meets Sam, who she is instantly drawn to, life in Virginia starts to feel more real. Her relationships with her friends, grandmother, and Sam get stronger as she learns more about them and herself through her photography assignments. At the same time, she starts to question her friendship with Jess as Jess pulls away.
Can June hold onto the past while also exploring her new future?
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Any Place But Here by Sarah Van Name is a coming of age story that really brought a feel good vibe to my day whenever I picked it up. I don’t think I was expecting that when I first picked up this novel.
The story follows June as she is sent to live and to school with her grandmother due to some delinquency issues at her last school with her best friend Jess. She struggles at first before making a few friends, but then is torn between her new life and her old life. I loved the way Van Name made you fall in love with June’s character from the jump. She was that typical teen who liked to have fun with friends and then was ripped out of her normal environment. I loved all the supporting characters of Sam, Kitty, and Claire. They each brought something new to the table. I felt they were imparative to major character growth for June and Van Name did a good job of depicting that story line.
This story touches on hard topics like underage drinking, depression, and toxic friendships, but it also talks about personal growth, overcoming obstacles, and just plain growing up. There were times I wanted to cry with June and times I wanted to scold her and tell her she was making poor decisions. I felt what she was felting, which just shows how good of a writer Sarah Van Name is. I was involved. I was invested. I had to see how it ended. I was not disappointed. While there were definitely parts of this story I would not call “feel good”, in the end it made me feel good. Not because the characters were perfect, but because of the direction the characters were left going.
I’m a huge fan of YA Fiction novels even as a grown adult. I love the layers in the stories and Sarah Van Name is definitely on my watch list of must reads moving forward. A perfect book for a nice sunny day at the beach or a rainy day inside. You won’t be disappointed.
STAR RATING: 5/5
Pick up your copy of Any Place But Here by Sarah Van Name on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and check your local bookstore. Also make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished.