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Anywhere but Here

Anywhere but Here

4.0 7
by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

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Cole’s small town is a trap he’s determined to escape in this fresh and moving debut novel that balances loss with humor.

Ever since his mom died, Cole just feels stuck. His dad acts like a stranger, and Lauren, his picture-perfect girlfriend of two years, doesn’t understand him anymore. He can’t ditch his dad, so Cole breaks up


Cole’s small town is a trap he’s determined to escape in this fresh and moving debut novel that balances loss with humor.

Ever since his mom died, Cole just feels stuck. His dad acts like a stranger, and Lauren, his picture-perfect girlfriend of two years, doesn’t understand him anymore. He can’t ditch his dad, so Cole breaks up with Lauren. She doesn’t take the news very well, and Cole’s best friend won’t get off his case about it.

Now more than ever, Cole wants to graduate and leave his small, suffocating town. And everything is going according to plan—until Cole discovers the one secret that could keep him there…forever.

Editorial Reviews

"Kyi's novel presents a heart-wrenching, realistic depiction of a son grieving the loss of his mother. Grades 9-12."
Quill & Quire
“Kyi demonstrates a certain amount of bravery in her treatment of the characters and their stories: Cole isn’t always as likeable as he thinks he is – in fact, he’s a bit of a jerk – and the other characters are vividly, humanly flawed. The author allows her characters room to make bad decisions and doesn’t flinch from dramatizing the consequences. The novel’s relatability twists inside the reader.”
Bulletin for Center of Children's Books
"The book is unusually clear-eyed in its depiction of both the negatives and the positives of a close-knit small town. There's an underlying nuance to the dynamics and a pleasing lack of villainy to the characters, so events are emotional rather than melodramatic."
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—In the year since his mother died of cancer, high school junior Cole and his father have been struggling to concentrate on the future and "pretend the past never happened." Despite their efforts, her death continues to haunt and unravel both men's lives, and they spend a good portion of the novel drowning their grief in alcohol. Cole soon breaks up with his longtime girlfriend, Lauren, and decides to apply to film school. He films a documentary about his small hometown, nicknamed "The Web," for his application. Initially, his documentary focuses on people getting trapped in "The Web". In Cole's words, "the more they try to leave, the more they get pulled back," but as the story progresses, Cole comes to realize that the town is more of a safety net than an entanglement. In a bizarre set of circumstances, he finds out that Lauren is pregnant with his child (she later loses the baby) while at the same time his father has gotten a transient stripper pregnant. Seeing how his friends, family, and others in the community come through and support him when he needs it the most, Cole starts to understand his life in firm terms-he "isn't the main character but the guy behind the camera." Kyi seems to have touched upon anything and everything considered controversial in a young adult novel-sexuality, pregnancy, discussion of abortion, and use of alcohol and marijuana. Some of these explorations feel natural and believable in the context of the story line, while others seem unnecessary and included more for their shock value than contribution to progressing plot or character development. Many teens will connect with feeling trapped by their hometown, but few will relate to the soap operalike drama in Cole's life.—Nicole Knott, Watertown High School, CT
VOYA - Susan Allen
Cole is a high school senior, grieving for his mother who just died of pancreatic cancer. He lives in a small town that he feels is strangling him; his goal is to leave and start over. He and his father do not know how to relate to each other without Cole's mother as a buffer. His girlfriend no longer understands him, and he breaks up with her. His decisions are not the best, waking many mornings with dry heaves from drinking too much and staying out too late. The one bright spot in Cole's life is his realization that he wants to be a documentary filmmaker. He works throughout the book on the film that is needed to accompany his application. The story is not new, with the people and events seen in other coming-of-age novels. The presentation is gritty, with vivid writing about teen drinking, partying, and pregnancy. The father seems like a stereotype of a man who has lost his wife and thus his rudder. He cannot relate to his son or even be there for him, and his solution is to become involved with a stripper and her small child. Some of the most compelling parts of the narrative come with Cole thinking about the documentary and the images he envisions. After a car accident in which the windshield gets cracked, Cole looks at the spidery shards of the broken window and realizes that, while broken, the shards are also holding each other together. Reviewer: Susan Allen
Children's Literature - Suzie Davis
Senior year of high school should be the highlight of Cole’s life. He has the perfect girlfriend, great friends, and a promising future; but Cole is grappling with the constraints of small town life. This struggle is compounded by the fact his mother died of cancer less than a year ago and the recent break up with his girlfriend. Dealing with his grief is difficult and it does not help that his father is distant, managing his own grief in a drunken stupor and in the arms of a stripper named Sheri. Cole is desperate to leave Webster and attend film school in Vancouver after graduation. Cole must submit a portfolio as part of the film school application. He decides to create a documentary of his hometown to depict how it is like a spider web that traps people and keeps them from escaping. What he discovers in the filming process surprises even him and then he uncovers a secret that could shatter all of his dreams and keep him in Webster forever. Kyi does an excellent job portraying the voice of a teenage boy and his coming-of-age struggles with life in a small town. Young adults, male and female alike, will easily relate to Cole and the other characters in Anywhere but Here. Due to some mature subject matter and language, it is not recommended for readers younger than 14. Reviewer: Suzie Davis; Ages 14 up.
Kirkus Reviews
Small-town life has Cole down. Everyone and everything in Webster, aka "the Web," is holding him back. He dreams of moving to Vancouver after senior year to avoid the prospect of a ho-hum life with a boring job, wife and kids. Breaking up with Lauren is the first step on his new path to an exciting life as a filmmaker. As far as he's concerned, he's single, notwithstanding an "accidental post-breakup sex scene" with Lauren. So even when he starts hanging out with Hannah, an assertive, sexy girl who steps in as soon as news of the breakup gets around, he doesn't think of himself as anyone's boyfriend. His mother died less than a year ago, and like his father, he finds solace in drink. Filmmaking gives Cole needed distance from his home life, which sometimes feels like "part of a mandatory group project, like in health class." While he's working on a documentary that he thinks will reveal how tangled Webster's residents are in its web, he's utterly clueless about the real drama right in front of him--Lauren's pregnant. Cole eventually finds that everyone's life is complicated, and he's the only one who feels trapped. Clever chapter headings move the story toward a tidy ending, and Cole's voice is convincingly filled with a combination of angst and nonchalance. (Fiction. 12–17)

Product Details

Simon Pulse
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
HL700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Anywhere but Here

  • The first time I wake up, I lie there wondering what day it is. I can see sunlight poking through the curtains, high on the cement wall of my basement bedroom.

    I roll over to look at the clock: 9:54.

    Shit! Shit, shit, shit! I leap out of bed as if the mattress has caught fire and grab my pants off the floor. It’s Friday, and Lauren hasn’t called to wake me up because Lauren isn’t my girlfriend anymore, and calling lazy-ass guys to cajole them to school is no longer in her job description.

    A minute later I’m back on the bed. Perched with my head in my hands, dry heaving, I wish I’d called Greg last night instead of hanging out with Dallas. Dallas had an unfortunately generous beer supply. And the pants I just pulled on smell distinctly of vomit.

    I wonder if I puked before or after leaving his house. Hopefully after. Then I wonder what my statistical chances are of passing next week’s history final if I don’t go to the review class this morning.

    I roll my eyes toward the ceiling.

    Battle of the Plains of Abraham . . . 1759.

    Leader of the French . . . Montcalm.

    Leader of the English . . . Wolfe.

    Winner . . . must have been the English.

    Importance of the Plains of Abraham . . . no freaking idea.

    But I’m going to pass, no problem. I yank the pants off again, crawl under the covers, and go back to sleep.

    •  •  •

    I wake for the second time in the early afternoon, stagger to the bathroom for two Tylenol and a drink from the faucet, then flop back onto my mattress. My book flies from where it was balanced on top of my headboard and almost brains me. The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook, by Chris Jones and Genevieve Jolliffe. One day, I’m going to make documentaries the way some of the people in this book make films.

    Not today, though.

    There’s a pounding at the basement door. It’s probably only a tapping, but in my booze-addled cranium, it echoes.

    I stagger over and fling it open. “What?”

    I’m still in my boxers. I wouldn’t notice except that Lauren is standing in the carport looking like the leggy blonde from a romantic comedy, wearing a bright red dress and movie-star sunglasses.

    “You look nice,” I mumble.

    “You look awful, Cole,” she says, slipping off the glasses. “Can I come in?”

    Can my ex-girlfriend come in? She doesn’t look dangerous. As long as she doesn’t yell, I should be able to survive this. Our first, awkward, post-breakup conversation has to happen sometime, right?

    I move aside. Waving good-bye to her friend Lex, who’s loitering on the sidewalk, Lauren sweeps past me through the hall and into my room, a wisp of vanilla perfume in her wake. She smells like a birthday cake fresh from the oven.

    I follow her in and sit on my desk chair, crossing my arms and trying to look as if I have it together.

    “Gross,” she says. “It’s like something died in here.” Without asking, she opens my window.

    “How was school?” I’m hunting for a safe topic of conversation. It’s strange how you can talk to someone almost every day for two years and then feel suddenly so . . . separate.

    “You missed the review session,” she says. Lauren is the most dedicated student I know. If the town of Webster were attacked by Shaun of the Dead zombies, Lauren would take her textbooks into hiding with her.

    She’s good at commitment.

    “What exactly did you do last night?” She picks up my jeans between her thumb and her forefinger and carries them to the hamper like toxic waste before straightening the quilt on my bed.

    “Since when are you my mother?” I yawn.

    I say it without thinking, but Lauren freezes.

    “Sorry,” she says.

    I shrug. “I didn’t mean it that way.”

    “I don’t want to make you think about your mom.”

    “Really, it’s okay.”

    “I don’t want to bicker with you, either. I came over because last night, with my mom hovering in the kitchen, I felt like we didn’t get a chance to talk properly, and . . .”


    But just so we don’t have to discuss things right this second, I leave to find my toothbrush.

    •  •  •

    The third time I wake up, Lauren’s leg is thrown over mine. And it’s naked. This is another good thing about Lauren. You wouldn’t think that an honor roll student with the work ethic of John Ford and a religious fanatic for a mother would be willing to sleep with me. She always said it was okay because we’d been together forever and because we were going to be . . .

    “Mmmmm,” she breathes, wiggling closer and brushing her fingertips across my chest. She looks up at me with those blue eyes that seem brighter when she’s happy. “I’m so glad we’re okay again.”

    My whole body tenses. I try to smile, but I can feel it turning into a grimace.

    “What?” she says. She’s like that. She picks up my feelings through my skin, using weird lizard senses.

    “I . . . um . . .” I don’t get any farther than that. There are too many things going on inside my head, and none of them are good. Potential sentences are swirling together like water in a toilet bowl. Did I say we were getting back together? I didn’t. I’m hungover, not wasted. I definitely did not say we were getting back together. I did just sleep with her. And I’m not such a jerk that I can sleep with her and then shove her out of bed.

    I could run.

    “Oh, yikes!” I’ve never said “yikes” in my life, but that’s what comes out. “It’s four o’clock already? I have to be at the school. Guidance counselor. I gotta run.”

    I pull on my jeans—clean ones—while I spout some nonsense about not wanting to miss the college application talk. It’s true that I have an appointment. We all automatically get one so we can talk about The Future before choosing our senior classes. Everyone knows the counselors spout a load of bunk. If they actually knew anything about the future, they wouldn’t be working as part-time high school fake-a-shrinks, would they?

    I’d planned to blow off the appointment. Now, suddenly, it seems extremely convenient to go.

    Lauren makes sounds in her throat as if she would like to talk, but I don’t even look at her. I tug on a T-shirt, grab my house keys from my dresser, and bolt.

    “You might have to get dressed. Dad will be home from work in a while. I’ll see you soon,” I tell her as I dash toward the door.

    I jog the first couple blocks down the hill, just in case she calls after me.

  • Meet the Author

    Tanya Lloyd Kyi and her family live near Vancouver, Canada. Visit her at TanyaLloydKyi.com.

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    Anywhere but Here 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    majibookshelf More than 1 year ago
    I've always been a sucker for realistic fictions, and this one started pretty good. Oh oh, you're probably thinking "why did she just say started?", because it went pretty downhill after that. Yes, I was disappointed. I really liked the idea, and the plot was interesting, it just didn't go into the direction I wanted it to be. I'm not saying it was a bad book or anything, I enjoyed it, but it just wasn't as good as I had hoped it would have been. The main protagonist, Cole, lives in a small town called Webster. After his mother passed away last year, he's been wanting to get out of the "Web", as they call it. His guidance then gives him a pamphlet of film school in vancouver, and he decides to start the short film for the application, and then study there. The characters were great. To me, Cole seemed like a very confused kid. He has a great girlfriend, who he suddenly decides to break up with. He doesn't even bother speaking with his dad, or try to communicate with him as family members should do. Cole's best friend, Greg, doesn't even like the fact that Cole broke up with Lauren, and everything is just messed up. Towards the middle, somethings were just confusing in this book. The plot was all over the place, and I didn't really get much of anything. I still read on though, and I was glad that things weren't confusing anymore.  Another important factor is the romance, and let me tell you, the romance was literally all over the place! I was not happy with how it ended in the romance part, and I just did NOT understand Cole. It really frustrated me. Overall, this book was good. You might think I hated it from my review, but it was an ok book. There were somethings I hoped would have been different, but I really liked the ending (aside from the romance). If I had to give this book a mood, it would be quiet. It felt very quiet to me. I would definitely look into Tanya's future books, and I would recommend this to any of those who like realistic fiction/contemporary books. 
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love this book
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Stalked in.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Very good kept my intrest till the very end
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I softly moan and strokes Rose's ti<_>ts.