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How Far Is the Ocean from Here

A Novel

By Amy Shearn

How Far Is the Ocean from Here
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • Published in USA  Jul 2008,
    320 pages.

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There are currently 19 reader reviews for How Far Is the Ocean from Here
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Marjorie Thrasher (07/20/08)

An unbelievable tale. . .
In my opinion there were parts of this book that were beautifully written--and it was a quick read--but I just couldn't believe in the characters. Not one normal person to be found! A fantasy, perhaps. I'll be interested to read her next novel.
Linda (06/28/08)

Too Old For This Book
Although the concept of surrogate motherhood is intriguing, this book is not compelling for me. There is no character in the book with whom I can identify. It seems every character is intentionally quirky, making the book unbalanced. There is no normal from which to play..

I'd call this a 'kitchen sink' book. Every simile, metaphor, descriptive phrase that caught Shearn's attention seems to be in included in this book. There could be several books among the ideas in this one book. One overriding theme is isolation.

Watch for this author. She has potential As she matures, so will her writing. Perhaps I'm too old for this book!
Christine (06/27/08)

How Far is the Ocean From Here
From the opening pages of How Far is the Ocean from Here, there is a sense of desperation and desolation. Its characters, as well as its landscape, are haunted by broken dreams and unfulfilled desires, living ghosts of lives that might have been. Each disconnected from their families and in search of anyone that they can relate to. Susannah Prue, a surrogate mother who runs away "to think things out", is so well crafted that you do not know whether to love her or hate her. Amy Shearn's writing drives you to find out how they got to this place. Her words, stark yet beautiful like the southwest desert in the novel, build an environment where these people can finally come together through fate and a shared longing to belong. This truly is a remarkable first novel and I look forward to more from Amy Shearn.
Patricia (06/24/08)

Congratulations, you're pregnant!
The awe factor of a pregnant woman is high. Onlookers can only guess at the circumstances and decisions that created the child, hypothesize the outcome. How Far is the Ocean from Here deals with a common, albeit contemporary, set of circumstances: couple tries numerous times to get pregnant, fails, weighs options and hires a surrogate to carry their baby. As the story begins Susannah is rethinking her decision to become a surrogate, pondering her future in “otherhood”. Amy Shearn writes as the situation dictates, thoughts racing through Susannah’s mind, everything just slightly out of control. Fast read, quirky and humorous yet events and characters will remain with the reader long after the book has been finished. Highly recommended!
Kathy (06/23/08)

How Far Is The Ocean From Here
Amy Shearn writes beautifully at times, however her sentences tend to be wordy. I often found myself lost midway through a sentence and had to back track to the beginning. As a result, I found this book very slow-going and never felt a connection to the characters or the story line. The ending was over-the-top in a way that I really dislike. Just when you think the story will resolve itself, the author throws in one more major crisis, then leaves the reader to guess what exactly happened between the end of chapter nine and the beginning of chapter ten.
Darlene (06/22/08)

Keep reading...it's a good book!
Having put the concentrated effort of getting through the wordy paragraph long sentences at the beginning of the book, I was rewarded with an enjoyable read. Quirky? Definitely! Great storyline! Believable characters? Maybe not for some readers, but for me believable enough to want to slap some sense into them every now and then. I was invested in them (and am non-violent).

Book clubs? Definitely! Younger readers? I'd say read it first and you decide as there are some issues (including the main plot) that draw strong opinions. Bottom line...hang in there, and enjoy.
Cathy (06/19/08)

This is a MUST READ!
Did you ever make a mistake and think "Oh no! What the hell am I going to do now?" A mistake that affects not only your life but all the lives around you? If you have ever said the words "What if..." or "If only I had..." then this book is for you, young or old, male or female, child or adult. Susannah, a very young surrogate mother realizes that she has done something irrevocable and panics. The rest of the book is an extremely insightful and poignant look at relationships and choices made by Susannah and by all those around her and the consequences of those choices. A deep look into the human spirit, feelings, emotions, regrets, promises, and the unknown future.

This is an excellent book for discussion by book clubs and even if you don't belong to a book club you will want to go find someone to discuss this book with. Any one who reads this book will think of their own past, their own mistakes, their own choices, and will certainly relate to one of the interesting characters who are so well developed by the author that they seem alive. An amazing read, I couldn't put it down and I was sorry when it ended. Thank you Amy Shearn for giving us a book that is so intuitive and that touched my heart.
Michelle (06/19/08)

Quirky cast....
Amy Shearn has a knack for description. As I read How Far is the Ocean from Here, I could feel the heat coming off the desert pavement and could easily visualize the quirky cast. However, as much as I wanted to embrace the characters, I couldn’t find any reason to particularly like them. Susannah’s choices seemed selfish, and I never really found it in me to root for her. Despite my neutral opinion of the characters, the faster pace of the latter half of the book compelled me to continue reading.

Even though Shearn's way with words is engaging, I never felt the emotional connection to the characters that I crave in books. Therefore, I can only give the novel 3 stars.
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