Orca Book Publishers

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Fiction Ages 12+
Pages: 264
Themes: grieving and loss, healing, music, siblings, fear, opening up
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: 25/Sep/2018
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Sixteen-year-old Jolene, named after the girl in the Dolly Parton song, is from a long line of lowlifes, but at least they're musical lowlifes. Her mother is a tanning-salon manager who believes she can channel her karaoke habit into a professional singing career. Jolene's dad, a failed bass player, has gone back to the family demolition business and lives by the company motto: "We do not build things; we only tear them down." But Jolene and her big brother, Matt, are true musicians, writing songs together that make everything Jo hates about their lives matter less.

When Matt up and leaves in the middle of the night, Jo loses her only friend, her support system and the one person who made her feel cool. As it becomes clear that Matt is never coming back, Jo must use music to navigate her loss.

Patricia McCormick, author of the critically acclaimed SOLD
"Like a truly great song, this book will stay with you long after it's over. A powerful novel about loss and redemption, How Far We Go and How Fast is as real as it gets. And as sad. And, somehow, as funny. Lyrical and subtle, witty and wise, Nora Decter is an exciting new voice in YA literature."
Alicia Elliott, RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award winner
"Watching Jo gradually learn how to deal with her grief, to go from depressed and isolated to realizing that change is possible, is one of the many joys of Nora Decter's debut novel. Funny, smart, and endlessly empathetic, How Far We Go and How Fast has all the energy of your very first mosh pit. I wish I'd had this book as a teen."
Falen Johnson, writer, director and co-host of The Secret Life of Canada podcast
"This book has a timeless quality that feels shockingly familiar. A must read for anyone who wants to remember the bite and excitement of coming of age."
Kirkus Reviews
"A tender story about the love found in an imperfect, working-class family."
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
"Decter's vivid and evocative word choice defines the character of the novel…[She] deftly uses weather and the seasons to create mood as well as an instrument to advance the plot. Highly Recommended."
You Are What You Read blog
"I really appreciate this book. It's short and intense and will make you cry. Also, it's got a pseudo-psychic dog named Howl for goodness sake! Read it! "
Resource Links
"Decter does an excellent job of letting the reader see the world through Jo's eyes, as she deals with her grief and depression…Jo's insight and Decter's prose make the journey both bearable and in the end philosophical."
School Library Journal
"There is an uplifting, cathartic feel to the tale…Decter's spare language will have teens emotionally invested in the protagonist…A good choice where teens are seeking titles with relatable characters and a solid, satisfying conclusion."


Kobo Emerging Writer Prize—Literary Fiction  | 2019 | Winner
CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection  | 2019 | Commended