717 miles (ParisDude’s Review)


Title: 717 miles
Author: Sophia Soames
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Genre(s): YA
Page Count: 347
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5

Blurb:

The calculated flying distance from Oslo to London is equal to 717 miles which is equal to 1153 km. If you want to go by car, the driving distance between Oslo and London is 1732.79 km. If you ride your car with an average speed of 112 kilometres/hour (70 miles/h), travel time will be 15 hours 28 minutes.

Adam Vik Solheim should not be in London. He’s not supposed to be anywhere near the British capital, because Adam Vik Solheim, age 19, is supposed to be on a beach in Bali. He is supposed to be on the first stop on an Asian backpacking trip of a lifetime. THAT was the plan. That is where he is supposed to be. Not here. Alone in a weird house in a strange city, being paid to look after some troubled 17-year-old.

Felix Haugland has to survive the final 3 weeks of school. Make it through 21 more days of hell. Then he is going to hide out in his room for the rest of the summer until he can figure out how to get his life back on track. Find a school far far away, where he can start over and not make mistakes. He doesn’t need a flipping babysitter. He just doesn’t. His life is messed up enough as it is.

This is a New Adult story, with mature content. The story is set in the UK where the legal age of consent is 16. Triggerwarnings: Severe Bullying.


This book was soooooo cute! Sorry, I had to say that BAE, so that those amongst you who don’t have the time to read longish reviews know what to do: grab a copy. Phew. Feeling better now.

Alright. This book introduces a bunch of endearingly crazy people. Adam is a 19-year-old Norwegian guy who has totally fucked up his Asian dream-holidays with his school-mates. As he needs to earn money instead, he applies for an Au-Pair-job in London. To his utter astonishment, the half-Norwegian mother of the kid he’s supposed to look after thinks he’s perfect for the job—she must be mad, he thinks (spoiler: he’s right, she’s slightly bonkers, and I liked her at once). So, he packs his bag and hops on the next airplane. In London he meets Felix Haugland, the youngster he’s meant to babysit. Said youngster turns out to be sweet 17, handsome as hell, and sullen as they come.

What Adam doesn’t know is that being openly gay, Felix is the whipping boy of a gang of school bullies. The more he gets bullied, the more he withdraws into his own, private bubble of teenage angst and passive-aggressive moping. Of course, he’s less than thrilled to stumble upon the new babysitter his mom has hired (she’s a hard-working, frequently absent stewardess, FYI), especially as he finds said babysitter incredibly hot. Both try to find a way to avoid each other, but as days go by, Adam’s chill and easy-going manner makes it harder and harder for Felix to sulk. Unsurprisingly, as soon as he opens up, he discovers he’s falling for the Norwegian stranger, and falling hard and fast. Adam, on the other hand, has no qualms to acknowledge he’s bisexual, because why else would he find young Felix so disturbingly attractive? Then the first, sweet kiss is exchanged, and from there on, love goes its way. As does nature. I mean, two boys, 17 and 19 years old, full of sap and energy… Yes, they can. And they do.

Alright, the book could have been better edited and therefore shorter, as the author freely admits in her afterword. She could have corrected some minor comma-errors, as well. But the way the novel stands, I found it refreshingly sweet, with a certain rhythm, and unpredictable developments. Ah, to be 17 again! Ah, if I had found love at 17, I guess I would have kissed and snogged and cuddled and shagged just as much and with just as much gusto, fervour, passion as these two do. Once they allow themselves to fall in love with each other, there’s no holding back. They can’t keep their eyes off each other, they can’t keep their thoughts off each other, they can’t keep their hands off each other. And the whole thing is so cute, despite the moments of anguish when Felix’s bullies strike again. But you can feel how good these two boys are for each other.

Except the main bully, there was not one character I disliked in this novel. I mean, you can’t not love Adam with his passion for cooking and baking, his artistic sense, his humour, his nice, easy-going, loving, and caring personality. Plus, he’s quite bananas. As is his paramour Felix, despite his angst and the serious issues he tries to hide. His best friends all have a certain grain of folly as well, and so do Adam’s buddies and family members back in Oslo, whom we get to know through frequent exchanges (text messages? WhatsApp?). Felix’s mom comes across as the world’s crappiest mother in the beginning, but as the plot unravels, I completely changed my mind (at the same pace as Adam, in fact) and found her more and more cutely odd (bonkers, I said) and just as loving and trusting a mother as Felix needs.

Yes, there were moments when I was thinking nothing new was added in a scene, and all in all, a good pair of scissors could have straightened out the whole book and made it stream better. And yet. Something in Sophia Soames’s writing, something in her insisting on the Big, Great Love with capital letters that starts to fill Adam’s and Felix’s hearts kept me going and wishing the story would never end. Because when you get a whole lot of believingly written cuteness, why would you complain? Beware, there were even one or two scenes where yours truly started to feel his eyes get moist… PS: the cover drawing is really amazing, too! So if you’re into exploring teenage love at its best, this is definitely a book for you.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of 717 miles provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.

Author

Dieter, born and raised in Austria, studied Political Sciences in Vienna in the early 90s. He's living in Paris, France, with his boyfriend and working as a graphic designer. In his spare time, he loves to write, read, cook, take photos, and travel as often as possible. He’s already published two short-story collections as well as four poetry collections. His first murder mystery novel “The Stuffed Coffin” featuring Damien Drechsler and the dashing Greek student Nikos has been released on Jan. 6, 2019, and is available in English, French, and German. By the way, the French version "Le cercueil farci" has won the prestigious Prix du roman gay 2019 in the category murder mystery. Dieter runs a gay book reviews site in French and is also writing reviews for Gay Book Reviews under the pseudonym of ParisDude.
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