‘I have lost my way
Freya stares at the words she just typed into her phone.’
Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from home to find the boy that he loves and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City after a family tragedy leaves him isolated on the outskirts of Washington state.
After the three of them collide in Central Park, they slowly reveal the parts of their past that they just haven’t been able to confront and together they find their way back to who they’re supposed to be.
What I thought
Told over a period of a single day this book follows three teenagers who literally collide with each other while all realising that they have lost their way and don’t have any clue what to do next. The very premise of feeling like you’ve lost your way, or that you’ve realised that you’re not where you want to be and that you don’t know where things went wrong, or how to get to where you ‘should’ be just works. It’s something that everyone has felt at some time in their lives but with social media showing a highlights reel of peoples lives and with the idea that you should be aiming for a career and ‘do what you love’ it’s not something that we talk about. No one likes admitting that they’re struggling or that they don’t know what they’re doing so realising that you’re in that situation can feel very isolating. Especially as a teenager when there are so many milestones to hit (exams, relationships, colleges, uni, having interests outside of school, family, work). With everyone on their ‘right’ path not knowing what yours is hurts and causes extra stress as people start to ask what you’re going to do with that degree etc…
No matter what your struggles and view on what you’re going to do with your life one or more of the three main characters will ring true. And this is the strength of this book. It’s a quick read and apart from the three becoming friends and helping each other there isn’t much plot. It relies on the characters and empathising with them and their problems and issues.
It’s worth noting that this is told in present tense which is something that I’ve previously gone on record on this blog to say that I don’t enjoy and that it can often pull me out of a story. But I’m pleased to say that this is one of the rare cases where that didn’t happen and I didn’t even realise that it was present tense until about halfway through the book.
It would have been easy for Forman to perfectly wrap up each characters story arc but as that’s not how life works that’s not how the story ends, and yet it doesn’t feel disingenuous to the reader to not give closure at the end of the book. What you do get is a sense of hope and a belief that these three lost teenagers are in a position where they can find their way again in the foreseeable future. Wrapping it all up in a perfect bow would have been too easy and would have jolted the readers out of the book and the world.
Bonus points for representation: Harun is a gay Muslim. It’s great to see how his faith and his sexuality clash but also exist together. You can be queer and have a faith guys! So many people seem to think the two contradict each other because of historical precedent and extremists that it was nice to see a book where he simply happened to be both gay and Muslim.
Why I read it
I bought this as Gayle Forman was at YALC 2018, previous to this the only other book of hers that I had read was ‘If I stay’ which I had wanted to see before the film came out a couple of years ago. This book definitely isn’t as tear-jerking as ‘If I stay’ but it has its moments.
This is a fast paced book with multiple POVs showing just how strangers can become friends and how things can change over the course of a single day. The three characters all felt like their own person and I didn’t have any problem knowing whose POV each chapter was from, as each character had their own feel and writing style.
Finally this book emphasises just how important friendship and talking is. It’s not about finding romance, it’s about helping friends (old or new) and giving each other the strength and the courage to face their problems head on.
Did I enjoy it? Yes
Would I read it again? Almost certainly, as I’m writing this review just shy of a year after reading it I find myself wanting to return to these characters
Am I glad I read it? Definitely
Would I recommend? Yes. I’m looking forward to reading more of Forman’s work but if you want an introduction to her writing style without tears (If I stay) then I think this is a great place to start.
PopSugar: Takes place in a single day, multiple POVs.
I wish I had a better reason apart from fatigue for not posting anything this month but I don’t. However fatigue is a real thing guys, it’s not just about being tired it’s about not having the strength to do anything; including eating. Work and Guiding take up so much energy that even on a full nights sleep I spend most of my days with intense brain fog. But I’m looking to change my meds so hopefully that’ll get sorted soon and it won’t be so overpowering and I can start doing things for me again.
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.
P.S The next review is for ‘The Hazel Wood’ by Mellissa Albert, and I promise you won’t have to wait an entire month for it.