Monday, February 1, 2016

Review: The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt

Title: The Distance from A to Z
Author: Natalie Blitt
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 12 January 2016
Buy: Amazon | Dymocks Australia

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.
(summary from Goodreads)

The Distance from A to Z is a cute and quick romance read.

I was in the mood for a light fun read, something romantic, and The Distance from A to Z fit the bill. I definitely recommend it for those after the same kind of book to while away a few hours. What grabbed me when I first heard about this book was the French element. Much like Abby I love everything France, have done since I was a kid. I'd love to attend an intensive course such as the one Abby and Zeke attend and immerse myself in French! Of course, I'd have to actually learn French first. Heh. But the French phrases, the classes, the movies, the improvised France dates - I was all for this. It gave the novel a little something different, and Blitt handles the French for the non-French speaking readers really nicely. I must say though, in regard to the baseball side of The Distance From A to Z, I felt like I had to suspend my disbelief or spend the whole book rolling my eyes. I mean sure, American fiction and TV and film has certainly touched on baseball as a way of life, as a culture, rather than just a game, so I can't deny there's possibly some truth to this - but The Distance from A to Z took it to the next level, and I simply couldn't take it very seriously. Abby's family's obsession with baseball was a little too much. Of course, baseball is somewhat nonexistent in Australia, so maybe it's just me. Though I don't know anyone who takes their love of AFL or Rugby League to the point of trying to reschedule a funeral so they don't miss a game! So yes - suspension of disbelief. 

The thing is, the whole baseball thing kind of disrupted my overall enjoyment of The Distance from A to Z. Blitt uses it to make Abby incredibly judgmental and even mean towards others who like the sport, and that irritated me. Trying to pass off legitimately judging everything about a person because of a sport? Well, like I said, I just couldn't take it seriously. Plus, in light of Abby's feelings about her family's treatment of her and her French, it was also hypocritical. For the most part I liked Abby. I could understand where she was coming from in terms of her family life, but her snap judgment, regret it, snap judgment, regret it, rinse and repeat, got very tedious very quickly. She was either all in or all out and I missed that in-between because without it a lot of Abby's emotional ups and downs didn't feel genuine. As the novel is told entirely from Abby's point of view, I felt somewhat detached from Zeke. He was all well and fine as a character, though he was a bit of a player which isn't really my thing. Everything we learn about Zeke though is shaded through Abby's thoughtless judgments. So it was hard to feel like I really got to know Zeke. His and Abby's romance is insta-love too, of course, but I was expecting that. Though the on and off nature of their relationship frustrated me, Blitt writes their connection, these cutesy and romantic moments between them, really well, and that's what I was there for. She knows how to ensure swooning with her kissing scenes, so yay to that! I also truly loved Abby's roommate and new best friend, Alice. Alice is wonderful, sweet, strong, fighting and understanding. Her and Abby's connection was so lovely. I'll tell you, I almost shipped Abby/Alice more than Abby/Zeke! I could definitely do with more Alice. Or even just an Alice of my own to cuddle. Please?

The Distance from A to Z is all teen romance, swoon, and angst. It's short and sweet. If that's what you're looking for, give this one a go.



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