Lara Avery’s A Million Miles Away brings death, deceit, and love close to home

Reading this book is like standing on train tracks and watching the train come closer and closer, listening to the whistle blow, and still being unable to get off the tracks. You know the impact is coming, you know it is going to be ugly, but you just can’t stop.AMMA

After the death of her identical twin sister, Kelsey makes the worst decision imaginable and pretends to be Michelle when a Skype calls light’s up her deceased sister’s laptop. It’s Michelle’s deployed boyfriend, Peter, and Kelsey just can’t bring herself to tell him the terrible news. Instead, she begins a months long deception and ends up falling in love with Peter as Michelle instead of as herself.

Right off the bat, I wanted to hate Kelsey. What she did was despicable. Listening to Peter confess his love for Michelle and never telling him that Michelle died within hours of dropping him off at the airport. But I couldn’t hate her because she was doing it for all the right reasons. Peter is in a hellish war zone. His Army brothers are getting killed. He is witnessing horrors and doing things he never thought himself capable of. Michelle is the one thing keeping him going. If Kelsey tells him the truth, what will happen to him? It’s one thing for Kelsey to be distracted from her studies or from her friends, but being distracted in a combat zone will get you killed, so she keeps lying. First for his sake, then for her own sake because she realizes she never truly knew her own twin and this is a chance to connect with Michelle, and then because she comes to love Peter. So the lies pile up but so do the good memories and the laughter and the moments where she feels okay for the first time since her twin’s death.

Of course, it can’t continue and it doesn’t. The truth comes out and the aftermath is terrible for all involved.

Lara Avery does such a great job of portraying the inner turmoil for Kelsey. Her confliction with what she is doing verses what she is feeling practically comes off the page it is so strong. I liked that Avery could make me sympathize with a character whose actions were terrible to me. Kelsey is young, she’s human, she’s making terrible mistakes, but she’s also grieving and healing, and trying to find what’s left of herself in the wreckage. She’s relatable and that’s why I didn’t hate her for her bad decisions.

It’s been a while since a YA story drew me in. I’m glad this one did.