Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Distance Between Lost and Found

The Distance Between
Lost and Found
by Kathryn Holmes
From the publisher:
"Ever since the night of the incident with Luke Willis, the preacher’s son, sophomore Hallelujah Calhoun has been silent. When the rumors swirled around school, she was silent. When her parents grounded her, she was silent. When her friends abandoned her … silent.

Now, six months later, on a youth group retreat in the Smoky Mountains, Hallie still can’t find a voice to answer the taunting. Shame and embarrassment haunt her, while Luke keeps coming up with new ways to humiliate her. Not even meeting Rachel, an outgoing newcomer who isn’t aware of her past, can pull Hallie out of her shell. Being on the defensive for so long has left her raw, and she doesn’t know who to trust.

On a group hike, the incessant bullying pushes Hallie to her limit. When Hallie, Rachel, and Hallie’s former friend Jonah get separated from the rest of the group, the situation quickly turns dire. Stranded in the wilderness, the three have no choice but to band together.

With past betrayals and harrowing obstacles in their way, Hallie fears they’ll never reach safety. Could speaking up about the night that changed everything close the distance between being lost and found? Or has she traveled too far to come back?

I literally could not stop reading this book once I started it. My heart and my interest were won at the very beginning. My heart broke for Hallelujah, and I totally understood her. The good girl who had always done what was right and then one incident and one disgusting, deceitful, popular boy ruined her reputation and pretty much her whole life. I could see myself reacting the same way Hallie did - withdrawing from everyone and becoming incredibly angry that everyone actually believed the disgusting, deceitful, popular boy. 

There is really something for everyone in this book. It is an exciting survival story, it is a coming-of-age story, it is a story of identity - what makes us who we are, it is a story of forgiveness, it is a story of redemption. There is also vile bullying and a sweet romance. Probably the thing I like the best was how REAL it was. There wasn't a quick oh-you're-forgiven-for-everything scene, the issue of forgiveness resurfaced many times. The kids were on a youth group trip and while they were lost and suffering, they discussed God and how they felt about the whole concept. There was no saccharine sweet sappiness about it, there were questions and concerns and true feelings about how God could be letting this happen to them. However, I wouldn't classify this as a Christian book, it was just about kids who happened to be on a youth group trip and got lost. I also loved one conversation where Hallie asked Jonah why he never cursed - especially given the situation they were in. He talked about his father, who "curses up a storm when he's not in church", or his friends, who curse all the time when there are no adults around. He said:

“I know too many people who are one thing when they think it matters and another thing the rest of the time. And I don’t want to be like that . So I don’t curse at all. It’s like —what you see is what you get.” 

Words to live by from a teenage boy.

Because of the real feelings that are evoked in this book, I think middle school kids will love it - I know I did. The title is so perfect for the book - "lost" and "found" have several different meanings in it. I will definitely be watching for more by this author - this was her debut novel. Well done!

Areas of concern:
*A few curse words.
*Mysterious "incident" with a boy that has ruined a girl's life. The "incident" is finally explained in detail, but it doesn't go too far.
*Intense, non-physical bullying.
*Scary survival situations.

Suggested Ages:
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 13+
School Library Journal - Grades 7+

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