Cover of Out of Reach, with a white girl in a leather jacket, jeans, and beanie lying awake on a concrete road

About the Book

Title: Out of Reach
Published: 2012
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Cover Story: The ’90s Called
BFF Charm: Maybe
Talky Talk: Raw
Bonus Factors: Beach Town, Weird History
Relationship Status: Support Group Members

Cover Story: The ’90s Called

… And they want their cover back. Ok, actually, I happen to love the ’90s, so I’m totally ok with this cover, but it is pretty angsty. Like, I can’t look at it without hearing the chorus of “Runaway Train” in my head. And even though it indicates Rachel’s feelings of missing her brother, it also makes Rachel look like the runaway, which is not the case.

RUNAWAY TRAIN NEVER GOING BACK. WRONG WAY ON A ONE WAY TRAAAACK. Oh, come on, you know you want to whine along with this video:

The Deal:

Rachel’s brother Micah is missing. It’s no surprise, really, considering his downward spiral into a haze of meth, and Rachel’s pretty pissed at him for throwing his life away. Outwardly, she’s always been the perfect one, but she’s made mistakes of her own, and she can’t forget the times when Micah was there to rescue her. So when she receives an anonymous email with Micah’s location and a warning that he’s in serious trouble, she decides to drive out to Ocean Beach and look for him. Thankfully, Rachel brings along Tyler, Micah’s best friend and fellow bandmate, who’s wiser to the world of dealers and addicts. As they search the streets together, they begin to collect clues about Micah’s descent into darkness and, surprise, surprise, they learn a little something about themselves along the way.

BFF Charm: Maybe

BFF charm with a :-| face

I feel for Rachel, I really do.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose a brother to drugs, especially a drug as nasty as meth. And, being a fellow goody goody, I understand her resentment towards him for effing up not only his life, but his family. Rachel’s feelings are complicated, as they should be, and I would totally volunteer to help her look for Micah. (Although I would stick to the tourist parts of town, KTHX.) But I don’t think I’m ready to give her my BFF charm quite yet. Rachel needs to grow up, not just a little, but a LOT. She’s still pretty sheltered and judgey in a way that is v. typical for a high school girl–hell, I was the same way when I was a teenager. But you would think that, given her experience with Micah as well as her terrible relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Rachel would be a leeeetle less black and white in her thinking. I’m thinking particularly of this line:

Jenn got herself date-raped at some guy’s house last year when she was plastered.

OH CHILD, you’ve got a long way to go in your feminist thinking. But again, I feel the need to point out that this kind of slut shaming is unfortunately v. prominent at the high school level, so in that respect, Rachel’s attitude is realistic.

Also, she reads the endings of books before she decides to buy them, and I DON’T THINK I CAN FORGIVE THAT.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Tyler has that Marcus Flutie alterna-stoner thing going for him, not to mention his killer combo of sensitivity AND lean muscles. He’s a good guy, and I was definitely rooting for him and Rachel to get together. This is one of those slow build scenarios, and while I’m fine with setting relationships on simmer, I could’ve used a bit more tension between these two potential lovebirds. Also, Tyler commited the grave sin of hating on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, so I had to knock off an entire point for that because WHAT?

Talky Talk: Raw

Carrie Arcos writes in an honest, stark style that is perfectly suited to the theme and message of the story. From the first page, I felt like I was truly inhabiting Rachel’s mind–there were no filters blurring her thoughts or emotions. Her flaws and her uncertainty were served straight up with every single word, and while that made me flinch occasionally, it always felt authentic. Arcos’ writing is direct and blunt, but she is careful to line the darkness with a glint of hope.

Bonus Factor: Beach Town

Blue house on the beach with a dock and a palm tree

Even though Tyler and Rachel mostly focused on the seedy areas, they still experienced a few of Ocean Beach’s charms. From children making sand castles to quaint pizza parlors, their visit to Ocean Beach tempted me to forget about Micah and grab a soft serve on the boardwalk.

Bonus Factor: Weird History

paper in a typewriter with the word HISTORY typed

I love it when a YA book surprises me with random historical facts, and thanks to Carrie Arcos, I learned some crazy shizz about the history of meth! I’ll let you discover it for yourself, but DANG, HITLER.

Relationship Status: Support Group Members

This book keeps it real, and it never sugarcoats anything. I know I can trust it to be honest with me, but I also appreciate its hopeful attitude. Sure, it’s not a barrel of laughs, and we don’t socialize outside of meetings, but we’ve got each other’s back. And I know that this book is destined to make an impact on many people’s lives.

FTC Full Disclosure: My review copy was a free book I received from the author. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.