BY LILLY METCALFE
With descriptive language, personification and the perspective from a six-year-old, the novel “Too Far” by Rich Shapero encompasses all three of those things. The novel had potential to be a great read but it fell short due to the confusing plot and the creepy fact that the children were discovering sexuality at such a young age.
If the novel Bridge to Terabithia had a fraternal twin or part two, this novel would be it. The storyline is very similar. The two children use the wilderness and their imaginations in order to escape their everyday reality.
The two children, Robbie and Fristeen, were six-years-old and about to enter the first grade once the summer ended. They both came from very different homes, but each home was falling apart. Fristeen’s mother was a drug addict. Robbie’s parents’ relationship was struggling and leading to a divorce. Robbie and Fristeen used their friendship, wild imaginations and the woods to escape their home troubles.
The novel’s format is simple as if it was written for a middle school audience, but the content is very adult as the characters explore their independence and sexuality.
Robbie challenged the authority of his parents, when he claimed since turning six and being more mature than his five year-old self he should have more freedom, like explore the vast woods.
The author made Robbie and Fristeen have sexual tension and feelings towards each other. They shared their first kiss, saw each other’s genitals, held hands and claimed it was okay because they were going to get married.
There were also many sexual references like when Robbie was counting Fristeen’s teeth he got distracted about how warm and smooth her mouth was. These references and descriptions made the novel very uncomfortable to read because the children were so young.
The perspective of the novel is through Robbie’s point of view and that is how the plot unfolds about the parents’ relationship and the impact it has on Robbie and Fristeen.
Their active imaginations are seen through the metaphors and personification of the woods. The use of the personification was interesting and made the book stand out from others, but it may have been too much. There came a point when the story didn’t make much sense and was hard to understand because these literary devices were being over used.
The ending was very poorly written. It was a huge disappointment especially as it was tied all together at the last two pages of the 244-paged novel. The ending didn’t make any logical sense, which is what ruined the reading experience.
The author made it seem like the children witnessed a murder in the woods as it describes a pool of red, a person they called the Dream Man bashing a head of a woman and spilling her brains as they interpreted as releasing her thoughts. It sounded like a murder, yet the author took it in a completely different direction at the end, which is why the ending made no sense. He also did not explain the importance of what the children witnessed either, leaving it all for the reader’s interpretation.
The novel could be a metaphor of life, death, sex and young love, but if so, Shapero failed miserably. This novel was an attempt at trying to be a literary masterpiece, but this novel should be used as a doorstop.
The novel is available on amazon, for only one cent, so any Salisbury University student can read it and give it a chance.
The Flyer gives “Too Far” a 3/10.