We Are Lost and Found was one of those book that, when it came time to download from NetGalley, I couldn’t remember what it was about or why I requested it. When I reread the summary I was excited (see for yourself below) and thought I was in for a good read. Well, that’s partly true.
*Big thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review!*
Michael is content to live in the shadow of his best friends, James, an enigmatic teen performance artist who everyone wants and no one can have and Becky, who calls things as she sees them, while doing all she can to protect those she loves. His brother, Connor, has already been kicked out of the house for being gay and laying low seems to be his only chance to avoid the same fate.
To pass the time before graduation, Michael hangs out at The Echo where he can dance and forget about his father’s angry words, the pressures of school, and the looming threat of AIDS, a disease that everyone is talking about, but no one understands.
Then he meets Gabriel, a boy who actually sees him. A boy who, unlike seemingly everyone else in New York City, is interested in him and not James. And Michael has to decide what he’s willing to risk to be himself.
I really wanted to like this book more than I actually did. It took me a long time to get through the first half of the book (about a month and a half) but the last half really got me interested and invested in the story and the characters.
I think the biggest issue I had with the first half of the book was the lack of connection I felt with the story, setting, and characters. I didn’t really feel like I was immersed in the plot. It felt more like actions and conflicts were being told to me rather than like I was the characters’ sidekick going through all that with them. On top of that, the book doesn’t use quotation marks to indicate when the characters were speaking, so it was really difficult at times to figure out which portions of the paragraphs were thoughts and which were dialogue. And, on top of that, there was a lot of scene jumping that didn’t have any indications either. One moment we would be in a church and the next we’re suddenly in a nightclub. Nothing but a new paragraph indicated this change, so it was difficult to realize when these changes happened in the book and at what point they took place in the story.
I didn’t grow up in the 80s, and though I did learn a lot more about that time, I didn’t feel very close to what was being described and how it related to the characters and their predicaments. As for the characters, they didn’t start to feel like real people until the last half of the book. This is probably due to the fact that they didn’t start acting like teenagers, as opposed to weirdly insightful and wise philosophical gurus, until the last half of the book.
So far this review has been a lot of complaining, but there were things I enjoyed about this book! Like I mentioned earlier, I truly did feel a shift in the book and my feeling toward it when I hit the halfway point. That’s a long time to wait to actually start enjoying what you’re reading, but I’m glad I stuck with it.
I finally started to feel the characters were actual people that I could relate to, for one. On top of that, though things still were fast-paced and scattered, I felt more of a connection to the conflicts and how the characters were dealing with them. My overall interest in what was happening went up and I didn’t want to stop reading.
There are lots of important themes and topics covered in We Are Lost and Found. I realize the importance of these and think it’s wonderful they are being explored in this way, and though I personally couldn’t relate to any of them, I do understand that these need to be talked about and there are others who can relate to them, just not me personally. The two afterwords, along with pieces of the plot, were very informative about NYC culture in 1983 and the lurking danger of AIDS at that time. I know very little about AIDS, but We Are Lost and Found did a great job of informing me about what it is, how it affected people, and how it was viewed in 1983.
All things considered, I think this is a good book. It’s informative, entertaining, and illuminating. Though I didn’t feel very connected to the characters or story for most of the book, I think others might and would enjoy it more than I did.