A MelanieM Review :717 miles by Sophia Soames

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The calculated flying distance from Oslo to London is equal to 717 miles which is equal to 1153 km. If you want to go by car, the driving distance between Oslo and London is 1732.79 km. If you ride your car with an average speed of 112 kilometres/hour (70 miles/h), travel time will be 15 hours 28 minutes.

Adam Vik Solheim should not be in London. He’s not supposed to be anywhere near the British capital, because Adam Vik Solheim, age 19, is supposed to be on a beach in Bali. He is supposed to be on the first stop on an Asian backpacking trip of a lifetime. That was the plan. That is where he is supposed to be. Not here. Alone in a weird house in a strange city, being paid to look after some troubled 17-year-old.

Felix Haugland has to survive the final 3 weeks of school. Make it through 21 more days of hell. Then he is going to hide out in his room for the rest of the summer until he can figure out how to get his life back on track. Find a school far far away, where he can start over and not make mistakes.
He doesn’t need a flipping babysitter. He just doesn’t. His life is messed up enough as it is.

This is a New Adult story and is set in the UK where the age of consent is 16. Trigger warnings: Severe bullying and mature content.

Several things intrigued me about this novel when I first heard about it.  It mentioned a discussion about the age of consent in Europe, the disparity in school systems from the US, an odd family dynamic, and of course, two countries (England and Norway) that it’s primarily set in.  Plus to top it all off it deals seriously with the issue of bullying.  All from a author I had never read before.  With an absolutely stunning cover to boot!  Yes, I grabbed it up and will forever be grateful I did.

717 miles by Sophia Soames is that not to be missed novel that you want to review.  Unexpected, beautifully written, that carries such an emotional impact with it’s characters and storyline that days later they and it are still with you, lingering in your mind and heart, scenes and phrases tumbling over and over.

The title from from the distance from Adam’s home in Oslo to his new temporary position as an au pair in London, England.  It’s exactly 717 miles and as he leaves home for the first time he is feeling every bit of it.  It’s not a place he thought he would be but extremely poor decisions from both himself and his long-time group of childhood friends has cost him and them dearly.  I won’t go into it here, it’s a tale for the story and Adam to tell, and it will unfold in the novel.  It too has both it’s heartbreakingly funny and deadly serious moments.  Just like everything in this book.  So human, so real, and young.

The story is told from both Adam’s and Felix’ perspective, a format that works so well here.  Their initial impressions of each other is important as is their descriptions, so we see them through each others eyes.  And it’s how we see Felix’s relationship with his unusual mother, Birgit, an expressive wonderful single mother whose style of parenting is not everyone idea of parenting but as Adam comes to realize it works for Felix.

I don’t think I can even begin to do justice to the incredible characterizations here.  Not just the two young men but all the families, and friends.  Each and everyone is an exquisite portrait of a real person, oozing with life and vitality.  You want to crawl inside this book and meet each and everyone.  Be a part of this unique circle of people in both countries.

Which makes one of the major elements here all the more realistic and frightening.  You see Felix is being badly bullied in school.  Physically beaten bullied. There is violence.  So if this is a trigger be warned.  It also marks such a major difference in my understanding of the school systems in the way it was treated.  I do understand some of  the difference between the UK systems and their as a good friend of the families was a headmaster but here the lawyers would have been outside the door, the headmaster held accountable the first time a student landed in the hospital and the culprit identified.  The inaction by the school and headmaster, however, realistic, frustrated me and made my heart hurt not only for Felix but for all those existing outside the story if true.  Adam is there to be his friend and Felix need a friend and more.  This entire thread, especially when told from Felix’s side, will make you weep.  It will get worse, and then get better.  Just know that.

Then there is the slow burn relationship between Adam and Felix.  Slow to develop because at first Felix sees Adam as an adversary, someone to drive away as he had all the other “babysitters” his mother has employed.  But Adam has younger brothers he loves and he knows how to deal with someone who clearly needed him.  It’s wonderful watching it unfold before you.  The dialog, the scenes, they alternate from hilarious (Adam learning to navigate the London traffic) to the serious (pulling out exactly what’s happening to Felix) to the amazing (all the cooking and baking that Adam does.  We  watch the transition from both pov and we start to cherish both the relationship and the  young men.

And oh that ending!  Sob.  Yes, I loved that ending too.  This book!  I’m already itching to reread it soon.

When you finish a book you love, you sort of bask in the glow of a story and characters so well done that you are just so happy.  Happy for them, happy you found the story, and in this case happy I found this remarkable author. Yes, I highly recommend this story to everyone! Go, go, go, grab it up and start reading immediately.  It will be on my Best of 2019 list.

Cover Artist: Miriam Latu. The cover artist is a Norwegian artist who works in charcoal on paper.  That’s the unusual beauty behind the cover and it’s Norwegian models that fit the story so perfectly.  Honestly this novel just continues to give starting with the cover and a link to the artist’s studio.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal link

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, 371 pages
Published April 30th 2019

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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