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Far From Xanadu

by Julie Ann Peters

Published by Megan Tingley Books / Little, Brown, 2005
282 pages
ISBN: 031615881X

Ages 13-17

Julie Anne Peters takes a wealth of challenging issues and deftly integrates them into a sensitive, compelling, believable story that offers understanding and encouragement. Teenager Mike—short for Mary-Elizabeth—lives in a small Kansas town. Her alcoholic father committed suicide two years before, and she’s estranged from her mother. Mike deals with these traumas by focusing her energy and attention on sports. She’s a gifted athlete and her community has raised money to send her to a prestigious softball camp, but Mike is resistant to accepting charity. Then Xanadu comes to town. She’s a troubled teen who’s been living on the edge, and she and Mike strike up a friendship that Mike soon wishes could be something more. Mike, who routinely wears her father’s clothes, has never felt anything but accepted for who she is in Coalton; the same is true of her best friend Jamie, a gay teen. But she has always resisted being labeled or pigeonholed as gay. Still, watching from the sidelines as Xanadu starts dating boys is painful, and Mike begins to realize that even a big-hearted town can be too small. being accepted isn’t enough when your heart craves love. Mike is a complicated, realistic character who struggles with questions that will resonate with many teens.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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