cover image The Distance from Me to You

The Distance from Me to You

Marina Gessner. Putnam, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-17323-3

Gessner, a pseudonym for author Nina de Gramont (The Boy I Love), offers a wilderness adventure dashed with romance and danger. High school grad McKenna decides to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone—and withholds that detail from her parents—after her best friend Courtney backs out of their planned months-long trip. Everyone underestimates McKenna’s ability to complete the journey (even when they think she’s still with Courtney), and she is determined to prove them wrong. Meanwhile, Sam is on the same trail, hiking neck and neck with McKenna and escaping an abusive family. As they run into each other almost daily, sparks fly and love blossoms. The third-person omniscient narration, which includes occasional interludes from McKenna’s worried mother back home, can be awkward and emotionally distant, especially during McKenna and Sam’s first sexual encounter and when describing McKenna’s thoughts (“she reminded herself that anxiety and exhilaration were close cousins”). Despite this, many readers should find it easy to relate to McKenna’s desire to take risks, prove her independence, and finish the trail at all costs. Ages 12–up. Agent: Peter Steinberg, Steinberg Agency. (Oct.)