The Distance From A to Z
By Natalie Blitt
This full-length novel by debut author Natalie Blitt is a pitch-perfect blend of Stephanie Perkins and Miranda Kenneally that proves the age-old adage: opposites attract.
Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.
That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.
But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.
OH MY GOD. MY HEART. MY HEART. IT’S NOT HANDLING THE EXTENT OF MY EMOTIONS RIGHT NOW.
This book. This book is beautiful.
After a long hiatus of reviewing, this is the book that finally brings me out from living under a rock. I’m back for a new year full of wonderful books that will both break and quicken my heart, , that will make me cry, laugh, scream and smile, all at the same time. Bring it on 2016.
Back to the book. The fact that this debut book written by Natalie Blitt brought me out my hiatus/writer’s block deserves five stars all on its own. It’s not only that. It’s everything about the book from the setting, the writing, the characters,the relationships, and most of all, the absolutely unexpected love that is part of this beautiful (and messed up) world.
First, the setting. I’m pretty sure this was set in Canada and that was a personal victory all by itself. Not many novels are set in Canada and I am patriotic of reading a book in this country. But that’s not the specific setting I’m talking about. It’s the university campus and the whole “reason” for this story. The Intensive French Course that the characters take part in. The French language throughout the novel is awesome and the originality of the whole novel displays the level of talent for fellow debut author, Natalie Blitt.
And this is the time for a timely transition to her writing. My god. Natalie, you are one heck of a writer and this is a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL debut novel. You have a new fan to a list that is certainly growing. As a current French student in high school, reading a book abundant with French and a French atmosphere is awesome. I loved it and it wasn’t even that faux French that sometimes writers give an illusion of, of the French tone, language and atmosphere. You could tell you did your homework on this beautiful and enchanting language. Furthermore, the way the words flowed and painted Abby’s journey was certainly brilliant.
This leads to my next point: the characters. Abby, the protagonist of this story, is a star. Her character is enthusiastic, adorkable, intelligent, and oh-so unique!! Her literary voice spoke millions to me as a reader and this novel gets a thumbs up for such a strong narrator. Her perseverance in learning French BY HERSELF is amazing and I admire her dedication. (This totally helped me practice my French and I found myself translating what I was reading into French or reading the French phrases and translating them into English). Also, she was such a relatable character!! Natalie made sure this character had all the little twerks and guilty pleasures that every single girl had. From the cozy clothes, to the love for junk food, to the weird routines. Abby’s character is solid. She could be my best friend. I attached to her personality from the very first page and the rest is history.
Now Abby did have her help with my intense emotional attachment to this novel. Abby’s relationships with BFF, Alice who suffers from anxiety and is an avid writer, and of course, the love interest, Zeke Martin. I’ll start with Alice. I love how she isn’t one of those characters that is placed in the novel to create plot and a way for Abby to express her thoughts. In other words, Alice isn’t a “device” Blitt used to give her story oomph. Alice has a backstory and she isn’t some random static character that plays a insignificant filler role in the novel. Abby and Alice’s friendship is GOALS. Like full-on BFF GOALS. Their immediate connection and everything from the instant and real honesty and trust these two characters have for each other is amazing. Alice is one of my top reasons why I love this book.
Next, we have Zeke. The guy who is the complete opposite of what Abby wants and likes (or what she doesn’t realize she wants and likes). Abby’s family is obsessed with baseball. Thoroughly, definitely, 100% obsessed. Abby is not a fan of baseball (There is a plot twist dealing with that!!) and the moment she meets Zeke, she she needs to stay away from him because of his love for baseball t-shirts and his obvious passion for the game. But classic YA fashion, WE CANNOT HAVE THAT. Both Zeke and Abby are in the same Intensive French Course over the summer. Yup, you guessed it, Abby is stuck with Zeke for the two months as his fellow partner for class assignments. Of course, these two fall in love, but this book isn’t some fluffy crap about the usual opposites attract. Blitt made sure that this book was intertwined with themes and beautiful story-telling. This was original. The relationship is original. Everything from the attraction, the tension, the hate, the growing friendship, the growing respect for each other, the hilarious conversations between Zeke and Abby, and the character development. It wasn’t bland and there is no doubt that this book kept my interest. Like Alice, Zeke is a character that changes and fully made me fall in love with him. Throughout the novel, I could tell something was suspicious with Zeke, and obviously the plot twist at the end proved me correct. Blitt threaded the suspense wonderfully through the novel and the build up to the plot twist was just right.
The book continues to impress.
The love story is what makes this book Contemporary Romance. I could go forever about the idea of love that the author expresses during the novel. But to summarize everything, romance lovers, if you are looking for a) a book boyfriend to add to that long list that I’m sure you have, b) a story that will make you swoon, root for the characters and full of angst and tension and c) a realistic development of the relationship then Abby and Zeke’s story is the one to pick up. I love the romance and the story and the feels I got. My heart is STILL affected by the book, hours after finishing it. The conclusion was heart-warming, super sweet and adorable!!
I also want to give a shout to the fantastic book title!!! I see what you were doing there Blitt. Very clever. Very clever. *winky face*
Well, there we go. My first review of the year!!
I recommend this lovers of romance, sports novels and for the readers that are looking for a quick read that is worth-it to procrastinate whatever you are doing.
Keep calm and read on!