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Far Far Away Hardcover

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Best of the Month in Young Adult
Far Far Away is the spotlight pick in our Best Books of the Month in Young Adult list for June 2013. See more of our Editors' Picks.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (June 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375849726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375849725
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up-McNeal spins a tale fluctuating from whimsy to macabre in such a beguiling voice that-like Hansel and Gretel-readers won't realize they're enmeshed in his dangerous seduction until it's too late. The book is narrated by the ghost of Jacob Grimm (yes, that one), unhappily caught in the Zwischenraum (a plane of existence between life and death). For now, he is the nearly constant companion of Jeremy Johnson Johnson, who can hear Grimm's voice when he presses a finger to his right temple. He's also heard the voices of his dying mother and grandfather. This ability has made him an object of derision for many in his little town, though-thrillingly-not to the electrifyingly vibrant Ginger Boultinghouse, who is more than happy to lure Jeremy into more trouble than he's ever encountered. Grimm tries to be the voice of reason-to keep Jeremy safe-but few things are as they initially seem in the town of Never Better and it's difficult to know the difference between hazard and opportunity. It's also hard to know the good folk from the bad and that's because so many of McNeal's characters are complex and have conflicted motivations. When is a bully not so bad? Where's the line between justifiable grief and parental neglect? Can an older man love a teenager in a way that's not creepy? How do stories nourish us? At what point do they stifle us? All these questions, and many more, are raised in this folklore-inflected, adventurous, romantic fantasy. Whether readers connect more deeply with the suspense, the magical elements, or the gloriously improbable love story, they will come away with a lingering taste of enchantment.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* So it begins: What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl, and a ghost. Ghostly Jacob Grimm, of the famous Brothers, narrates this tale of Jeremy and Ginger and their near-tragic encounter with town baker Sten Blix, whose long-held grudges figure in the disappearance of several village children. Unappreciated as a youngster, Blix has elevated revenge to a sweet art, and he holds Jeremy, Ginger, and an additional victim, Frank Bailey, in a hidden dungeon under the bakery, while Jacob desperately tries to tell parents and friends of the predicament. If he fails, the three may become grist in the baker’s next batch of Prince Cakes. Reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel and rife with allusions to the Brothers Grimm tales, this is a masterful story of outcasts, the power of faith, and the triumph of good over evil. McNeal’s deft touch extends to the characterizations, where the ritual speech of traditional tales (Listen, if you will) establishes Jacob’s phantasmagoric presence amid the modernist American West. There are moments of horror (as there were in the Brothers Grimm original tales), but they are accomplished through the power of suggestion. Details aplenty about Jacob and his famous sibling make this a fiction connector to both fairy tales and Grimm biographies, too. Grades 7-10. --Cindy Welch

More About the Author

Tom was born in Santa Ana, California. His father was a native Californian who raised oranges, and his mother grew up on a farm in northwest Nebraska, where Tom spent his childhood summers. After earning a BA and a teaching credential from UC Berkeley, Tom moved to Hay Springs, Nebraska, taught high school English, drove a school bus, substituted briefly in a one-room schoolhouse, and began work on what would become Goodnight, Nebraska. Tom holds an MA in creative writing from UC Irvine and was a Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University. His short stories have been widely anthologized, and "What Happened to Tully" was made into a film. He is the author, with his wife, Laura, of four young adult novels published by Knopf and a picture book called The Dog Who Lost his Bob. He has two sons and lives in Southern California, where he grows oranges.

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Customer Reviews

Overall though, this is a really sweet story with an excellent, intriguing plot.
Ashley Ferguson
I have to admit the book seemed a little long winded in sections, but it pulled me through the story well and kept me going.
Bryan Newman
This was an entertaining read and I would highly recommend it to 10+ age middle grade and adults who love fairy tales.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Heather on July 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Ah Fairy Tales....I love them for all their weirdness and beauty and timelessness and did I say weirdness. Yes, this one starts out very weird. I thought it was too literary for me to enjoy. The stuffy Jacob Grimm narrates and he waxes prosaic about his lost brother and his time in the world after his death trying to find his way to his brother. Yes, I thought it was just going to be a little too much for me. I was wrong. Very wrong. Jacob Grimm basically lives one of his own fairy tales as an almost silent observer.

The characters in this story are numerous but only a few stand out. I will limit who I describe to Jeremy Johnson Johnson and Jacob Grimm.

Jeremy is a bit nerdy because all he does is study. But when you have a ghost telling you "studies, studies" all the time and you know your only ticket out of town is college and a scholarship, then you know you should study. And he's weird because he once told someone he hears voices. But he does and we know he does because we can hear Jacob Grimm talking to him throughout the novel. But, unfortunately, Jeremy has a tendency to talk to Jacob out loud and that makes him look even weirder. And Jeremy lives with his father in the back of the Two Book Bookstore which, as you may have guessed, sells only two books, the first and second volumes of Jeremy's grandfather's life story. Business isn't good. And, as if you need more to make a boy look weird, Jeremy's father stays in his room all day watching t.v. since Jeremy's mother left him. Life has not been kind to Jeremy. But he's a good boy, studies hard, is kind to everyone, friendly, wary, industrious (he has a lawn service business) and he takes care of his father.

Jacob Grimm's Ghost- Jacob's Ghost somehow got stuck on Earth after he passed away.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By The Write Edge on June 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A teenage boy shares an extraordinary relationship with a ghost and slowly develops a special friendship with a girl in his class. The two teens become one another's confidantes and partners-in-crime. When the bank threatens to evict the boy and his widower father for lack of payment, the girl and the boy try to figure out a way to save the house. What becomes a noble goal turns into a modern-day fairy tale in Tom McNeal's whimsical, charming Far Far Away aimed at middle-grade readers.

Jeremy Johnson Johnson and his father live in Never Better, a place representing typical American small-town life. Everyone knows everything about everyone, and everyone takes a keen interest in the business of others. So the fact that Jeremy can keep a big secret represents an amazing feat. No one knows that Jeremy can hear the voice of long-dead Jacob Grimm of the Brothers Grimm.

Jacob narrates the story in first person and slowly reveals how he traversed the world from Germany after his death looking for his brother's spirit. Jacob travels for decades asking other spirits about Wilhelm, and eventually he meets one that says he has heard of a special boy. A boy who believes in fairy tales and who lives in a small town--a village--that "can be seen only from the corner of the eye." A boy who can hear those who exist in the spirit world. But the Finder of Occasions also lives in this town and will eventually harm the boy if no one can stop him. Jacob decides to help this boy; maybe helping the boy will somehow lead him to other spirits that can lead him to Wilhelm.

He becomes Jeremy's friend and tutor but when Ginger Boultinghouse starts showing an interest in Jeremy, Jacob becomes skeptical. An innocent prank turns into big news, solidifying Jacob's suspicion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bill Baker on June 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Think of this title! Yup, it's a clue to what this incredible book is all about, because it's a modern fairy tale - hey! It's not boring - it's a page turner! - starring a boy, a girl, and a ghost - this is not your common garden variety ghost but one of the Grimm brothers - the same guys who put fairy tales on the map.

The thing is, this ghost whispers in the kid's ear and he is just about the only person who can hear the ghost whisperer - old Ghost Grimm tries to help the boy who lives with his dad - an he pretty much stays in bed for most of the book.

But this tale is full of adventures - not just a ghost, a girl, and a boy - but a dwarf, sort of a dwarf, and a giant, kind of giant, and the usual fairy tale plotting - just who is the `witch' here?

This book's great fun - one that will keep you reading deep into the night!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sheri Boston on June 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Originally posted on my blog: Tangled Up In Books

I received an eBook copy of this book from NetGalley and Knopf Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. I've been struggling all day with what to say here. Much as I struggled to get to the end of this book. To be completely honest I probably shouldn't have started it. I don't even remember putting in the request and was thrown when I received an approval email. It really isn't my type of book but I figured it was there why not give it a go?

I think my biggest problem was the narration. The book is narrated by none other than Jacob Grimm. Yes one half of the infamous Brothers Grimm. Well, his ghost to be more specific. Sometimes I felt like he was just talking to hear himself speak, like it had absolutely nothing to do with the story. And the frequent bursts of German, yeah that got old fast. I found myself often having to reread things to try to make sense of them.

I didn't care much for a good portion of the other characters who made appearances in the book either. Jeremy Johnson Johnson was...alright, I'm still sort of on the fence about him. He had his moments when he made me smile possibly even laugh but they were too few and far between. On the other hand, for the most part I liked Ginger Boultinghouse. She was mischievous and funny.

It was extremely slow paced. Around 60%-ish it sort of took a turn for the creepy and I was hoping it would pick up, but it just didn't get any better for me. I gave it a shot but it just wasn't the right fit for me. And on that note I really don't feel it's very Middle Grade either. But maybe that's just me.

Thanks to Knopf Books for Young Readers for approving me to read and review this book even though it wasn't right for me. :)
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