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Getting Somewhere

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Four girls: dealer, junkie, recluse, thief

Sarah, Jenna, Lauren, and Cassie may look like ordinary girls, but they're not. They're delinquents whose lives collide when they're sent to an experimental juvenile detention program on a farm in the middle of nowhere. As the girls face up to the crimes they committed, three of them will heal the wounds of their pasts and discover strengths they never dreamed they had. And one, driven by a deep secret...

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Overview

Four girls: dealer, junkie, recluse, thief

Sarah, Jenna, Lauren, and Cassie may look like ordinary girls, but they're not. They're delinquents whose lives collide when they're sent to an experimental juvenile detention program on a farm in the middle of nowhere. As the girls face up to the crimes they committed, three of them will heal the wounds of their pasts and discover strengths they never dreamed they had. And one, driven by a deep secret of her own, will seek to destroy everything they've all worked so hard for.

An Excerpt from Getting Somewhere: She thinks of herself as the surviving type. Able to make things work out the way she wants them to. Okay, so, yeah. This is a little glitch in her plans. But she's not going to stay. Absolutely no way. She'll just tell them she's not happy, that it isn't working out for her. The room where they put her is ridiculous. Tiny. No television, no phone. Geez, they even had those at detention. Well, not in the rooms, but still. Hell, if she has to, she'll just walk out. Nothing to stop her.

It will be fine. It always is.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Reminiscent of Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Peaches, this first novel offers multilayered portraits of four juvenile offenders, who in lieu of serving time in a detention center, opt to enter an experimental program set on an organic farm. The goal is for the girls—Jenna, Cassie, Sarah, and Lauren—to learn compassion by working together. Sharing responsibilities in the field and participating in group therapy sessions, the girls cautiously begin to open up to each other, sharing heart-wrenching tales of abuse and neglect. But honesty requires trust, and Lauren remains skeptical and angry; she’s determined to find a way to sabotage the program’s success and “destroy” its leaders. Writing in third-person and alternating between the girls’ perspectives, Neff digs beneath the surface of her characters, exposing the vulnerabilities of both the teens and the adults in charge. Although some of the drama, especially the heavily foreshadowed climax, feels manufactured, the girls’ developing insight into themselves and others is authentic. Agent: Elaine Koster Agency. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)
VOYA - Susan Allen
This is a story about four girls who learn how to deal with their unusual everyday struggles and bond over the confusion of life—with the exception of one, Lauren. Each girl has a dark history: one is a shoplifter, one is a drug addict, another was raped, and the last one cannot adapt to foster life. Because of these experiences, they end up at a correctional farm. Although the stories are enjoyable, they lack many details, which makes it hard to comprehend. The stories are unrealistic. It would be very difficult, for instance, to have a baby on your own and then get it back after abandoning it in a parking lot. It is hard to picture the characters and the setting because the writing is overly descriptive. It is hard to tell the intended audience because the writing style is young, but the themes are mature, addressing sexual harassment, lesbianism, and drug use. The summary does not accurately describe the book, because only one girl "destroyed the farm," but it says the others helped. One of the girls did try to burn down the farm but was not successful. This book is similar to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and the Pretty Little Liars series in the sense that they also deal with four troubled teenage girls. Reviewer: Susan Allen
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Jenna the drug dealer, Sarah the junkie/prostitute, Lauren the shoplifter, and Cassie the recalcitrant have all agreed to serve their prison time working on a farm rather than face prison time. The farm is run by Grace, Ellie and Donna, who send off very different vibes. Jenna, Sarah and Cassie begin to adjust to farm life, discovering truths about themselves and healing from the injustices of their earlier lives; sexual abuse being foremost. Lauren, on the other hand, refuses to participate in the work or the group discussions. She keeps trying to lure the other girls into helping bring down Grace and Ellie, who are a lesbian couple. Lauren's outrage about the women's sexual orientation stems from her father's disowning her brother because he's gay. She's a nasty, vindictive, spoiled brat and the least fully drawn character in the book. There is very little explanation regarding why she behaves the way she does. Lauren cons Sarah and Jenna separately into helping her bring the program down and she destroys the fragile relationship between Grace and Ellie. Cassie, Jenna and Sarah begin to bond with one another and the women running the program. They feel they have betrayed Ellie, Donna and Grace when Lauren's treachery comes to light. But they also learn to accept the consequences of their actions. The story unfolds alternately through each of the girls' points of view in a tightly written book that has plenty of meat for conversations about social mores. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
Kirkus Reviews
Four girls facing time behind bars choose to spend their incarceration on an experimental group farm in the middle of nowhere. Each of the four girls arrives at the home with her own story, prejudices and hurts. Jenna, the observer, attempts to figure out her new housemates, like a puzzle she is trying to solve. Cassie, who would prefer to fade into the background, hides a desperate secret. Sarah, the street-wise cynic, wants to believe that this is not just a dumping ground for lost causes. Lauren, defiant and angry, wants nothing more than to go home even if it means taking down the whole program with her. The trio of directors, while well-meaning, has their own secrets. With narration that is filtered through the perspectives of each of the four girls, Neff's debut seeks to untangle the broken lives of all seven of the inhabitants of the farmhouse. The potentially meaningful story is hamstrung by vague characters, a meandering plot and purple prose. Cassie is angry "[a]t the dark that won't swallow her up as it once did, that, instead, spits her out night after night onto the ground, shivering with the truth. What to do with it?" Attempts at true revelation are drowned by familiar tropes and forced drama. A story that fades before it can ever find its stride. (Fiction. 12 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Jenna, Cassie, Sarah, and Lauren are in juvenile detention for various reasons. Offered a choice of traditional jail or an experimental program, the girls choose a 12-week farm program run by three women: Grace, the owner of the farm; Ellie, the psychologist; and Donna, the main cook. The farm provides most of the food they eat and produce to sell to the community. All of the girls have problems adjusting, but Lauren is the malcontent and troublemaker, unwilling to work and determined to destroy the program. Slowly the other girls start to accept what the women are trying to teach them, but Lauren sneaks out a letter that accuses them of sexual harassment and of being lesbians, although there is no evidence of their sexual orientation. What could have been an interesting character study of these girls and women is bogged down by cliché and almost glacial plotting and character development. By the time all of the characters are fleshed out, readers will no longer care. It is a shame because many of the descriptive passages are lyrical. Most teens will give up early in the novel so it will be a tough sell, even to those who might identify with one or more of the girls.—Suanne Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670012558
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/19/2012
  • Pages: 448
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Beth Neff is a former farmer, journalist, and sustainability activist. She and her youngest son now live in Constantine, Michigan, where she writes full time.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2012

    Highly Recommend!

    This book tells the story of four juvenile offenders and their journey to a farm instead of a typcial correctional facility. Each girl tells her own unique story that makes you want to keep reading. The combination of each girl’s story and the women on the farm makes this book captivating and such a pleasure to read. The girl’s stories are psychologically driven and powerful. Such a great book for young adults as well as adults. A must read!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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