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Very Far Away from Anywhere Else Paperback – 1 Oct 2004

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Paperback, 1 Oct 2004
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Product details

  • Paperback: 133 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P (1 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152052089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152052089
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 1.3 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,093,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ursula Le Guin has won many awards, including a National Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Newbery Honor and the World Fantasy Award For Life Achievement.

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If you'd like a story about how I won my basketball letter and achieved fame, love, and fortune, don't read this. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A very sweet short story that is quietly thought-provoking as so much of Le Guin's work.

17 year old Owen finds himself isolated in a society that worships conformity and the suppression of excellence (excepting that which drives financial success or political power) over individual self-expression. He's lost in a fog that alienates him from his family and peers. And then he meets Natalie, a budding musician, a year older than him.

What follows is an intelligent exploration of friendship, first love, and learning to accept oneself and move on.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 29 reviews
90 of 90 people found the following review helpful
Why is this out of print? 28 Sept. 2001
By Diana Nier - Published on
Format: Library Binding
I have never been able to answer people who say, "You read a lot. So, what's your favorite book?" But if I had to answer, I think I would choose "Very Far Away from Anywhere Else." I found this book when I was a sophomore in high school, and I could not believe how well I understood Owen and Natalie, and how similar their lives were to mine. I still can't believe Le Guin fit so much into such a short book -- my paperback edition has only 87 pages.
The story unfolds like life, following the course of Owen and Natalie's friendship, in their senior year of high school. Owen narrates, at the end of the year, trying to figure out exactly what the year, and Natalie's friendship, meant to him.
But the story itself is not that important. Owen and Natalie themselves are the heart of the book, and are two of the most human characters I have ever encountered. Owen has never fit in with people, wants to be a scientist, and has trouble telling anyone what he really wants from life. Half of his trouble may be that he isn't quite sure what he wants. Natalie is a musician, who performs and teaches, but she is really a composer. Unlike Owen, she knows what she wants from life, and is following a careful plan to reach her goals. Of course, neither is really that simple; no real person can be summed up in two sentences, and neither can Owen and Natalie.
"Very Far Away from Anywhere Else" is a book which is easier to read than to explain, and any summary will lose the parts of the book that make it really worthwhile. If I could sum up the book for you, I doubt I would love it enough to reread it at least once a year. Let me close, then, by telling you how much I love this book. I own hundreds of books, and love at least half of them. Of all those books, this is the only one I brought to college this year. This is the one I take on all my trips. This is the one I read whenever I start to feel my life is pointless. This is the one that is dangerously close to falling apart, just because I read it so much.
Buy this. Read it. Trust me.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Succinct, insightful, moving 26 Sept. 2000
By William Timothy Lukeman - Published on
Format: Library Binding
This short novel speaks volumes to anyone who has ever felt different, not quite fitting in, but afraid to truly break away from the herd. Owen's doubts, fears and deep longing to be his own person are all too familiar and honest; his struggle toward real manhood, as opposed to the shallow, self-absorbed macho model of his peers, is even more relevant today. Natalie's determination to create and follow her own path is inspiring, never denying the hard work and sacrifice required, but never denying its joys, either. Together, theirs is a genuine relationship, rich, rewarding, transforming. Well worth reading at any age, the sooner this wonderful book is reprinted the better!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Every teenager should read this book 22 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Library Binding
Owen wants to be a scientist. Natalie is already a musician. Both are bright, original, and couldn't fit in less with their run-with-the-pack classmates. Peer and family pressures almost destroy their friendship, but nothing this deep can be put down for long...
This is a beautiful, heartfelt book about the friendship between two high school outsiders. Owen and Natalie are vivid, three-dimensional characters, and their conflicts with family, society, and each other are both real and balanced: parents and teachers aren't villains, nor are Owen and Natalie petulant, demanding kids. LeGuin's themes of individuality vs. societal pressures and the conflict between friendship and love are deep and written into the structure of the book rather than tacked on as lectures. A witty and very moving story.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful book about two gifted teenagers 28 July 1998
By Connie M. Vaughn - Published on
Format: Library Binding
This is the best (truest and most moving) fictional account of the experience of being a "gifted" adolescent that I have ever found (although Le Guin never labels her two protagonists as such). I first found this book in college in the 1980s after I had read all of Le Guin's more famous novels, and it made a huge difference in my life and self-concept at the time. Owen is a sensitive, brilliant seventeen year old who feels completely out of place and alone in his life. His parents miss the point with him and, meaning their best, urge him toward an ordinary but stifling (for him) life. When Owen meets Natalie, a driven but lonely eightteen year old with a single-minded devotion to composing music, they form a bond somewhere between friendship and love, and his vision for his own life is transformed. The characters are extremely appealing and realistic, and the book was like a best friend to me. I would highly recommend it for any young person facing simil! ar issues.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Possibly my favorite book of all time 3 Feb. 2006
By B. Anderson - Published on
Format: Paperback
I first read this novella when I was in high school. I've read it several times since. It's just one I always come back to. The story speaks to everyone who has ever felt excluded or misunderstood and it speaks to the yearning in each of us to find SOMEONE who understands just a little bit. In some ways, this is a romance, but really it's a story of finding a connection in the wide world. And it always makes me cry... but in a good way.

I've read hundreds, perhaps thousands of books in my life and I'm sure I'll read thousands more, but this one has a special place in my heart.
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