Summary: After his mother dies and Cole and his father are left with only each other, life in the small town of Webster becomes unbearable. Cole breaks up with his girlfriend Lauren for shaky reasons and plots his escape to film school in Vancouver, British Columbia. If he can just escape getting caught in the web of Webster, Cole believes he’ll have a better life. But as his connections with family and friends become more numerous and complicated, leaving might not be as easy as he first believes it will. As Cole is confronted with some hard decisions about his future, he starts to view where he lives in a new light.
Number of Pages: 309
Age Range: 15-17
Review: I feel like I’ve typed out a good portion of Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi in the Memorable Quotes section, but my favourite part of this book is Cole’s voice and there were just so many great examples of it. I like how he thinks, his witty sense of humour and his ability to change when needed.
And though I didn’t quote it, what touched me most was how Cole’s perspective adapted throughout the novel. His scene with Lauren at the hospital was especially poignant as he realises the dreams he has for himself can become different dreams and still be satisfying in their own way. And when those new dreams don’t turn out, he’s a bit surprised because it hurts more than he expected.
I’m being intentionally vague because while Cole didn’t figure out an important plot aspect for quite sometime, I did, but I don’t want to ruin the potential surprise for Kyi’s readers.
The theme of Kyi’s book, an exploration of the binds of small town life,is interesting because I think a large part of Cole’s desire to get away has to do with his profound sense of grief over his mother’s death. If she isn’t there anymore, he doesn’t want to be there either. Cole’s story is about his journey through grief, and learning to recognize what he still has even though his mother is gone. The town truly is a web of support for him in the end.
While a bit far-fetched in some areas, overall it was an engaging read with wonderful characters. Cole finds that the web he thought was trapping him is actually a safety net, made up of many, many people who care about him.
This is Kyi’s debut teen book and I’m looking forward to reading more by her in the future.
“The words came flying out of my mouth without my permission. My mind doesn’t seem connected to my tongue tonight. Maybe I have one of those brain injuries that knocks out your ability to edit your thoughts. Or Tourette’s syndrome. That’s probably it. I have sudden-onset Tourette’s.” – Cole from Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, page 62
“There are other things that don’t get said aloud. We never said ‘you’re dying’ or ‘terminal cancer’ or ‘when you’re dead.’ Soon the doctors were saying ‘palliative,’ and I knew that meant ‘dying,’ but I still never said it, and neither did Mom. Maybe Mom and Dad said it when they were together and I wasn’t there. I doubt it. Why say what you already know?” – Cole from Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, page 63
“‘Why would it bother me?’ Of course it’ll bother me. I feel like my brother just asked if he could have sex with my sister. Which they may as well do with me in the room because I’ve known them both so long that I can imagine every minute of it. The way Greg will lay on the moves. The way Lauren will laugh with the tip of her tongue caught between her teeth.
I shudder, trying to shake away the images before they go too far.” – Cole reflecting on his best friend Greg asking if he can go out with Lauren, Cole’s ex-girlfriend from Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, pages 145-146
“It’s quite possible that I’ve been sucked into a bleak foreign film and I can’t read the subtitles. And those award-winning European movies that end up in North American theaters – they never seem to end well.” – Cole from Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, page 210
“I feel as if Hannah stole her. I mean, I know that woman is not my mom. She’s just someone I met in a supermarket. It doesn’t matter, though. I still feel as if I had a grocery store guardian angel, a spirit guide of chicken roasting, and now Hannah’s taken her away.” – Cole from Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi page 217
“Do you believe in heaven? That’s all I wanted to ask. You’d think, after the doctors tell you there are only a few weeks left, that you would say anything and ask everything. It’s not like that, though. Impending death doesn’t open the Hoover Dam of communication skills. My thoughts didn’t come gushing out like cold, fresh drinking water. They still stuck at the back of my throat like old sludge.” – Cole reflecting on things unsaid when his mother was dying from Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, pages 221-222
“I blink on command and obediently follow a penlight with my eyes. The whole time, I’m cataloging people who have messed up. There’s Lauren, obviously. Trying to seem in control when, really, she’s never been more confused. And Hannah, with her oh-so-casual act when she desperately wants to fit in. There are more. Lex. Greg’s mom. Greg’s dad.
Maybe he fell into a metaphorical tree well when Mom died and he’s still trying to pull himself out. I assumed he had some sort of master plan, even if it was to become a committed drunk. But no, he’s been flailing around like the rest of us, searching for footholds.” – Cole from Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, pages 258-259
“Seems like life doesn’t have a documentary ending. In fact, it’s possible that my bleak film, bundled into its manila envelope, has entirely the wrong conclusion. It turns out that Webster isn’t necessarily the problem and escaping isn’t the answer. In reality, things are messier.” – Cole from Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, page 294
“I shake my head. You think as your world is heading to hell, some people are going to hold it together. The ones who are older than you, and bigger than you, and presumably smarter than you. When they climb into the handbasket too, it’s seriously concerning. Who would have thought that a pregnant stripper would be the one to get my dad back on his feet?” – Cole from Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, page 302
“If I could tweak the focus, see their eyes, maybe I could tell what kind of film they’re living. Or maybe not, even then. Sometimes you don’t understand what those around you are going through, even if you eat cereal with them every morning or pass by their locker every afternoon.” – Cole from Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi, page 308