What would you do if your loved one left for work one morning and never came back? This is precisely the unfathomable situation that Danica (Dani) Greene finds herself in when her husband Etsell leaves their home in Blackhawk, Iowa, to help a friend in Alaska. It is on this trip, flying over some of the most impenetrable forests in the country --- always a dream of his --- that Etsell and his plane vanish into thin air. Dani’s life is thrown into chaos. Along with Hazel, Etsell’s de facto mother (he lost his birth mother as a young boy and Hazel stepped in, caring for him like he was her own), Dani travels to Alaska to search for her husband.
"With circumstances ripe for discussion, FAR FROM HERE is a great choice for book clubs, as well as for fans of Jacquelyn Mitchard, Kristin Hannah and Jodi Picoult."
Despite being married to a pilot, flying is Dani’s greatest fear. No matter how gently Etsell approached the subject, it just petrified her. But in order to search the bush in the Alaskan wilderness, Dani has to put her fears on hold as she, Hazel and the local sheriff search for her missing husband. Even with their best efforts, the search turns up nothing --- except for the astonishing fact that the Alaskan authorities seem to believe that Etsell was in the company of one Sam (short for Samantha) Linden when he went missing. Now the hardest part becomes real: the search proved fruitless, and people now were telling her that Etsell was with another woman when he took off from the small airport. How could this situation get any worse?
Growing up as she did, Dani should be used to chaos. She is the youngest daughter of the colorful Char, whose romantic liaisons were as brief as they were plentiful. Older sister Natalie fled their small town of Blackhawk as soon as she could find a school with enough distance between her and her dysfunctional family. Middle sister Katrina stayed put --- and often underfoot, as she was fond of showing up unannounced and crashing on Dani and Etsell’s couch for an indeterminate amount of time. It appears that Dani was always taking care of someone. Although no one in her family seems to appreciate the unique situation she’s in, they try, in their own way, to comfort her. Even her neighbor, Ben, the local pastor, attempts to help out. But Dani ends up finding the strength to deal with her predicament from a most unlikely source --- deep within herself.
FAR FROM HERE probes the delicate subject of loss from multiple vantage points. What happens to those left behind in the wake of a loss? Dani finds herself in this strange netherworld. Is she a widow? Did her husband simply vanish to be with another woman? What happened to the man she spent the better part of her life with? Did she ever really know him? But life without Etsell seemed impossible: “I could not remember my life without him. There was no me, only us…”
Nicole Baart’s fifth novel explores the multilayered experiences of grief and loss. No two people experience it the same way. How do you go on when your life is ripped out from under you? Dani Greene makes for a relatable heroine as we see her cycle through the stages of grief while trying to put her life back on track. With circumstances ripe for discussion, FAR FROM HERE is a great choice for book clubs, as well as for fans of Jacquelyn Mitchard, Kristin Hannah and Jodi Picoult. When faced with the impossible, Dani chooses life: “I don’t want to live like nothing ever happened. I want to live because everything has.”
Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on February 9, 2012