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The Lovely and the Lost

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Kira Bennett’s earliest memories are of living alone and wild in the woods. She has no idea how long she was on her own or what she had to do to survive, but she remembers the moment that Cady Bennett and one of her search-and-rescue dogs found her perfectly. Adopted into the Bennett family, Kira still struggles with human interaction years later, but she excels at the family business: search-and-rescue. Along with Cady’s son, Jude, and their neighbor, Free, Kira works alongside Cady to train the world’s most elite search-and-rescue dogs. Someday, all three teenagers hope to put their skills to use, finding the lost and bringing them home.

But when Cady’s estranged father, the enigmatic Bales Bennett, tracks his daughter down and asks for her help in locating a missing child—one of several visitors who has disappeared in the Sierra Glades National Park in the past twelve months—the teens find themselves on the frontlines sooner than they could have ever expected. As the search through 750,000 acres of unbridled wilderness intensifies, Kira becomes obsessed with finding the missing child. She knows all too well what it’s like to be lost in the wilderness, fighting for survival, alone.

But this case isn’t simple. There is more afoot than a single, missing girl, and Kira’s memories threaten to overwhelm her at every turn. As the danger mounts and long-held family secrets come to light, Kira is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her adopted family, her true nature, and her past.

328 pages, Hardcover

First published May 7, 2019

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About the author

Jennifer Lynn Barnes

36 books17.9k followers
Jennifer Lynn Barnes (who mostly goes by Jen) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been, in turn, a competitive cheerleader, a volleyball player, a dancer, a debutante, a primate cognition researcher, a teen model, a comic book geek, and a lemur aficionado. She's been writing for as long as she can remember, finished her first full book (which she now refers to as a "practice book" and which none of you will ever see) when she was still in high school, and then wrote Golden the summer after her freshman year in college, when she was nineteen.

Jen graduated high school in 2002, and from Yale University with a degree in cognitive science (the study of the brain and thought) in May of 2006. She'll be spending the 2006-2007 school year abroad, doing autism research at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 618 reviews
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,425 reviews9,013 followers
February 23, 2022
Cady Bennett found and rescued, Kira, a young girl, in the forest. That's what Cady does. As a Search and Rescue (SAR) professional she has found countless lost peoples.

Upon finding Kira, it was clear that the little girl had been on her own for quite some time. Dirty, scared and practically feral, Cady took her in and raised her as her own.

As time passed, questions remained about Kira's time in the woods.

How could a girl that young survive on her own? Perhaps luckily, Kira seems to have blocked the details of the whole experience from her mind.

Now in her late teens, Kira has been in training, along with her brother Jude and closest friend, Free, to be a SAR-professional herself.

Although she still has a hard time trusting others and has a fuse as short as a fingernail, when it comes to tracking lost things, Kira's a natural.

When a call comes in about a missing girl back in Cady's hometown, the whole family, including their trained SAR-canines, load up and head out to aid with the search.

They end up staying at the house Cady grew up in, along with her estranged father, Bales, and his companion, Ness.

Unfortunately, it's not a blissful reunion, as Cady has not spoken to her father for years and tensions are running high. That paired with the pressure of the search for the missing girl, Bella, the situation is a ticking time bomb.

The kids begin to discover some long-held family secrets and what unfolds answers questions about all of their pasts, including Kira's which has remained locked in her mind since the day she was found.

I really enjoyed this book. The mystery, the tension, the drama, the high stakes search and rescue missions, the DOGSSSSSSS!!!!!

The human characters were enjoyable as well. I loved the themes of found families and loyalty that were woven throughout. Cady's son, Jude, is such a precious Popsicle, his witty banter made me giggle pretty much nonstop.

I also enjoyed Kira so much. The way she connected with the dogs and her strong-willed spirit had me rooting for her the whole way.

In my opinion, this is a great YA mystery/thriller, that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

It was completely unique, I have never read anything quite like it, and I was really impressed with Jennifer Lynn Barnes writing.

She drew me in and had me needing to know what the heck was going on.

I would definitely recommend this book and plan to pick up more of her books in the future. I would also be totally stoked if there was a continuation to this; whether a companion novel, a prequel or a direct sequel. I am so not ready to be done with these characters.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I truly enjoyed it and appreciate the opportunity!

Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,336 reviews1,822 followers
July 6, 2019
I'm a little conflicted about THE LOVELY AND THE LOST.

This book centers on Kira who, as a young girl, was found in the woods after surviving weeks on her own. She's later adopted by one of the people who made up the Search and Rescue team and, now sixteen, Kira helps her foster mother, and her foster brother, train dogs for SAR work. There's a lot of dogs. This made me very happy.

Part of me would never leave the forest. Part of me would always be wild and half-dying in that ravine.

What also made me happy was Jude, Kira's brother. He was.. I don't even have words to describe him. Hilarious. Precious. Relentlessly kind and understanding. The comic relief, the breaker of tension, first of his name. Barnes has written characters like him before in her other series and I've always loved them for all the reasons listed above. Jude is no exception. Kira, though.. this is maybe where things kind of stretch the limits of my disbelief.

Men like the park rangers looked at a picture of a lost little girl and saw an innocent, a victim, someone helpless and fragile and small. They had no idea what a child was capable of -- really capable of -- when the civilized world melted away and nothing but instinct remained.

Kira is just barely sociable. Her instincts are much like an animal. Her time alone, as a young child, has marked her. I don't dismiss that those weeks, that experience, would have changed her or haunted her. I don't doubt that she'd have flashbacks or nightmares. I just wonder.. after fourteen odd years, wouldn't she have left some of that animal, some of that fear, behind? Particularly considering the socialized years far outweigh the others? How long does it take for a person to change so drastically, to be so altered by social norms? I don't know. For all I know her behaviour is totally accurate to her circumstances. And if I accept that, I can love it. Well, more to the point, I can understand it. Hurt for her. Either way I do. That kind of trauma is horrifying. But, again, the not knowing.. I wasn't sure sometimes about her lack of understanding sarcasm or jokes or facial expressions. After all that time, particularly after all that time spent with Jude and their other friend Free, it didn't make me more likely to believe it, I guess.

"I understand now. The three of you share a single iota of common sense. I'm just a little unclear on which one of you has custody of it now."

But anyway. That aside, this was a rather tense whodunnit, complete with a missing child, lots of dogs, family secrets, and a total lack of a shoe-horned-in romance (ten points). There's angst and tragic backstory and family reunions of a few kinds.. and also dogs. I loved the dogs. Can you tell? There was also.. something.. at the end. It makes me wonder : is there more to come? Is this just open ended? Or will I get more dogs? This reader wants to know.

I've enjoyed, and outright loved, quite a few of Barnes' books (forever crying about the lack of more Fixer books; woe is me). I so enjoy her writing and her characters. So if the plot intrigues you, THE LOVELY AND THE LOST, despite some of my uncertainties, is definitely worth picking up.

3.5 stars

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Judy.
1,037 reviews
April 15, 2019
A captivating novel about the child, Kira, who was rescued and adopted by Cady Bennett. When rescued Kira was just a little girl and was living alone and wild in the woods. Once rescued she didn't talk for about a year. Cady Bennett trains search and rescue dogs and has taught Kira, her natural son Jude, and their friend Free to also train them. This story follows a search and rescue operation; the recovery of some memories Kira has suppressed; and the revealing of some secrets Cady has kept hidden.

This is a quick and intense read. I really enjoyed the story and the dogs especially - their loyalty and protectiveness shines throughout the book. The writing was very well done and I like the way the story unfolded - the the right amount of tenseness.

Thanks to Jennifer Lynn Barnes and Disney Book Group Freeform through Netgalley for an advance copy.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 27 books5,587 followers
May 12, 2022
Picked this up when Jen was the keynote at Teen Author Bootcamp this year, and wow. I've loved The Inheritance Games, which are clever and fun (very Knives Out/Westing Game), but this book is good in a whole different way: raw and realistic and beautiful. I was always a sucker, as a kid, for stories of children raised by wolves, and while this isn't quite that, it's very much that vibe. It's also got families (estranged, biological, and found), mysteries, kidnappings, and search and rescue dogs being very good boys and girls.
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
710 reviews1,152 followers
January 29, 2020
The Lovely and the Lost was a light YA mystery involving trauma recovery, a missing persons case, and search and rescue dogs in action.

Barnes is exceptional at giving her characters depth (especially compared to other YA writers). There’s always a deeper story of trauma affecting the plot, which adds a lot of cool dynamics. Stuff like that can often make a story feel too heavy, but she balances it out with fun characters who are animated and engaging despite their inner demons, and there’s something deeply compelling about that.

I also loved the search and rescue premise of the book – especially the dogs! It added a bit of fun to an otherwise dramatic story. I don’t believe there are any sequels planned, but I liked it enough to continue the series if there was one.

Lament: I waited (impatiently) for like five months to get ahold of a copy of this book from my library, letting it take up precious space in my holds lineup, only to give it half-assed attention because, you know, life. Even so, I absorbed most of it, and it’s a decent read. But I wasn’t as engrossed as I was with her Naturals series… and I don’t think it was all because of my distractions.

There’s an overall mystery to this story, but the focus is on the close relationships between characters and the personal issues they’re working through. I would have preferred a stronger focus on the mystery itself. Something to get the characters more active and mentally engaged with it. I was enjoying the story well enough, but I never felt drawn to it to see what would happen next. That lack of suspense affected my rating a bit. The Naturals was so phenomenal, it may have ruined me for mystery YA forever.

Recommendations: this is a great read if you like highly character-driven YA fiction. The search and rescue dogs made the story fun, and Barnes’ great writing always delivers a solidly composed story (great mysteries). However, if you’re new to this author, I’d say go straight for her Naturals series and come back to this one later… :)

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com

Other books you might like:
Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre The Naturals (The Naturals, #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes Perfected (Perfected, #1) by Kate Jarvik Birch Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1) by Lauren DeStefano
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
2,976 reviews362 followers
April 2, 2019
I love Jennifer Lynn Barnes' writing simple because not only is she an amazing author but she always writes stories that are captivating and unlike most stories in their genre. It doesn't matter what genre, the woman can write it and write it well.

And while this maybe wasn't a favorite of mine, it was well written, engaging and had a story line that stuck out and wasn't the norm, which I absolutely loved. A story that I think both fans of Jennifer's writing and mysteries will really enjoy.

*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Allison Brennan.
Author 111 books3,715 followers
May 10, 2019
The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a fantastic YA thriller that will appeal to anyone of any age. I’m a long, long way out of my YA years, but I enjoyed this story of a girl and her dog and the search for a missing girl in the Colorado wilderness.

It’s no surprise that I enjoyed this book. I loved Barnes’s Naturals series about teenagers with special skills working with the FBI. They reminded me of my early love for Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys back in the 1970s when there were few YA books for avid readers like me to devour.

As an aside, my youngest daughter and I love YA thrillers and often read them together. Mary was supposed to co-write this review with me, but since she has finals and an AP test she’s preparing for, she hasn’t had time for pleasure reading. But a big plus is that this is one of the few YA books we’ve found that writes in first-person past—not present tense. Both Mary and I dislike present-tense books, but so many YA books are written that way (and now a few adult thrillers). A big KUDOS to Barnes for sticking with a tried-and-true writing tense.

In TLTL, Kira Bennett had been abandoned at a young age and found—after living alone in the woods for an unknown length of time—by Cady Bennett, who trains search-and-rescue dogs. Cady, a single mom of a boy, Jude, adopted Kira and taught her the family business. Now, more than a decade later, Cady is asked by her estranged father to help find a girl who went missing while her family camped.

Full Review here at Criminal Element http://bit.ly/lovelyandthelost
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,671 reviews702 followers
April 18, 2019
I’ve enjoyed all of the books from Jennifer that I’ve read and was fairly excited to get to this one.

I liked Kira well enough. The dogs were legit the best part and they might have been tied with Jude. I feel like we didn’t really get to know anyone in this group of characters and I think it was an effective way to show how Kira still struggled.

Plot wise...I don’t know. The story started out so strong and then at about the halfway part, I found myself getting bored. Everything started to feel drawn out and repetitive. There were several threads of plot and maybe all of them weren’t needed. By the time I got to the ending, it seemed underwhelming and lackluster with parts still being unclear.

Overall, I loved the idea of it and the family dynamic kept me reading, but story lacked tension that I was expecting.

**Huge thanks to Freeform for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Maggie ☘.
525 reviews648 followers
November 27, 2019
This is my third work by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (I previously read The Naturals and The Fixer series and completely loved both) and as of now I'm highly convinced every YA mystery the author writes is gold.

Both the characters and the plotline were so amazingly done. The characters were so interesting, the psychological aspects of them very well crafted. I could really get into Kira's (the MC) mind and loved and felt for her completely. But it was more than that, being in her mind felt real and fascinating. The side characters were also great, Jude was a sweet optimistic baby.

It's something I've noticed with the author: she really gets deep into her character's psyche, that's why they are so interesting and real and why her mysteries work so well.
Another thing is the mystery side of her stories, it's like a puzzle, all the little pieces may be there and exceptionally well crafted, but you won't notice the whole until much later on, or until it's revealed.
So once again the mystery and plot twist/s were unexpected and slightly twisted as per usual for Barnes.

I loved the setting: most of this book is set in (and near) a national park. The author said that the first idea behind this book was to write one story which blanded in both her The Naturals (mystery series) and her Rased by Wolves (paranormal trilogy), plus family drama. And while the initial idea of mixing a thriller/mystery and paranormal about werewolves might seem strange, this book really is the perfect amalgamation of that. Plus, this novel not only has interesting characters, but also lots of dogs. Trained search and rescue dogs, and they were characters each on their own!

All in all, a must read for fans of Barnes's previous mystery/thriller works and recommended for those looking for a compelling, atmospheric YA mystery with well created plotline and many cute dogs.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,264 reviews215 followers
April 3, 2021
5 STARS if this is part one of a series
4 STARS if not

Kira, once found in a forest living among the animals, now trains rescue dogs with her adoptive mother Cady and brother Jude. When a call to help find a missing young girl brings them back to Cady’s hometown and her estranged father, Kira realizes how little she knows about her family and herself.

I didn’t jump into THE LOVELY AND THE LOST (great title) or embrace Kira as quickly as Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ other books , but soon I was hooked. The major and minor characters were complex, flawed and not always forthcoming with the truth. Because Barnes is also a psychologist, she was spot on with Kira’s PTSD and therapy she had received. Cady was a great mom in the moment, yet held so many secrets from those she loved. Jude and Kira’s friend Free (a nickname for Phoebe, I wonder if people called her Phoebe Freebie lol) added a sounding board outside the family. I was so glad that Gabriel, who assisted in the search, wasn’t a love interest and Barnes avoided the Boy Saves the Day and Heals Girl. Kira kept rising to the challenges she faced, pushing herself out of her comfort zone.

THE LOVELY AND THE LOST didn’t answer all the story’s mysteries, which leaves open a sequel or series. I sincerely hope this isn’t the last we hear from this crew.

ETA: the audiobook narration is well executed.
Profile Image for Sian.
183 reviews115 followers
July 9, 2020
Jennifer Lynn Barnes does not get enough credit for her novels. Each and every one of them has dynamic, interesting characters that you immediately fall in love with and unique, intriguing premises - this book was no exception. It also had dogs.... lots and lots of dogs which meant that it was amazing.
Profile Image for ᒪᗴᗩᕼ .
1,429 reviews136 followers
April 6, 2019
2.5 STARS Rounded Up to 3 STARS...because she is one of my Favorite Authors

๏  Highlights ๏

YA Contemporary
Rescue Dogs
Family Drama

๏  My Thoughts ๏ 

I love The Naturals Series and The Fixer Duology by JLB, I love how smart her writing is and how believable they were, despite having crime-solving teens.  I wanted to love this too...I mean, it's written by Jennifer and it has dogs...two things I love.  Sadly, though, I was ultimately disappointed.  I feel like she lost her mojo...and I really hope she hasn't.

The characters all felt off, kind of over-the-top unbelievable, none more so than the character of Jude...he was cringe-worthy annoying.  The family drama was all over the place and kind of difficult to follow.  The mystery of the missing girl was also a complete letdown, seriously, I just didn't buy it.  The blurb led me to believe that it had all the makings of a super-good story, but it just didn't deliver.  This is probably more of a two-star read for me, but my love for her stories wouldn't let me rate it that low...


๏ Breakdown of Ratings ๏ 

Plot⇝  2.5/5
Characters⇝  2/5
The Feels⇝  2/5
Pacing⇝  3/5
Addictiveness⇝  2.5/5
Theme or Tone⇝  3/5
Flow (Writing Style)⇝  2.3/5
Backdrop (World Building)⇝  3/5
Originality⇝  4/5
Ending⇝  2.7/5 Cliffhanger⇝ ???
๏ ๏ ๏
Book Cover⇝ Could be better...
Setting⇝ Hunter's Point & Sierra Glades National Park
Source⇝ I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
๏ ๏ ๏
Profile Image for Lindsay.
569 reviews
October 10, 2021
Jennifer Lynn Barnes is one of my favorite writers. She’s talented and her stories keep you on the edge of your seat. But The Lovely and the Lost was an anomaly. The writing differed from her other books to the point where it seemed like she passed along this idea to someone who wrote the book for her.

The Naturals series was intriguing and comical. The Fixer duology was amazing and suspenseful from start to finish. The Lovely and the Lost seemed like a Lucifer fanfic with an overload of drama and nonexistent action or mystery. I’m unsure whether the correlations between the TV show and this book were intentional, but the similarities are on the same level as what Cassandra Clare did for Mortal Instruments which makes me think it wasn’t a coincidence. Kira is Chloe. Jude is Lucifer. Free is Ella. Gabriel is Cain. Cady is Mum. And her estranged father is no other than dear old Dad. I adore Lucifer and reading a fanfic is something I am open to. That is, a fanfic that is written well.

Kira is our protagonist and an unhinged Chloe Decker. She’s 16 years old, 4 feet 11 inches in height, stoic, ordinary looking in attributes, and rarely speaks. She has an aversion to food (she’s always skipping meals). She was found wandering in the woods when she was toddler and doesn’t have any memory of it. At least that’s what she claims besides the random memory intrusions in each chapter. She thinks she’s a dog and needs counseling for untreated PTSD, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies.

Kira’s foster brother Jude is Lucifer Morningstar. I adore Lucifer for his personality, but Jude is over the top where he comes across as immature, annoying, pompous, and dramatic. I cringed every time he spoke, and he does a lot of unnecessary talking. Every sentence Jude says is a joke despite the tone of whatever is happening.

Free is half Ella since she’s annoying in a different way from Jude (hers is dialogue plus actions), and she’s also half Rose from Two and a Half Men since she uses windows when entering and leaving houses. Free is the opposite of Kira; she’s tall, beautiful, curvy, intelligent, and has boys drooling over her.

Cady is Kira’s foster mom and Jude’s biological mom. She was the one to locate Kira in the woods when she was a toddler. She has fostered her since and welcomed her into her life with her son and dogs that she trains for SAR. Like Mum, she’s intimidating, tall, and endured a falling out with her father (God). She has many lovers and also isn’t a good mother since she’s neglected to notice her daughter is suffering.

Remember reading the scene in Jodi Picoult’s Lone Wolf where the father acts like the wolves? This is Kira. She has classified herself as a dog since she was a toddler and hasn’t evolved from that mindset. She thinks to herself like how a dog does. Listen. Obey. Stay. Alpha. Play. Human. Girl. Danger. Freeze. Threat approaching. She has to restrain herself from growling at people, snarling, and snapping her teeth. She reminds herself to go for their throat if a fight breaks out. (Why does everyone want to fight her?)

Kira trusts no one and is either angry or scared of new people she meets. In all scenes of meeting someone new she tenses up, labels them as a threat and prepares for a fight, or she cowers behind Jude while he and her SAR dogs protect her by diffusing the situation. This also isn’t normal behavior and brings me to another point. If Kira is so terrified and wary of people and constantly pugnacious to them, how does she manage school? Is she homeschooled? Cady wouldn’t have time to homeschool her since she trains SAR dogs 24/7 so does she pay a tutor to teach Kira? How does Kira cope with being near a tutor if she doesn’t like people? And why is Kira at a high school party with alcohol and blasting music in the beginning chapter if she views people as a threat?

Her thought process regularly puts her in danger. For example, when searching for the missing girl, Kira debates turning off the radio so no one knows where she is. That way she can continue searching for the girl during the night with her SAR dog Saskia. Her and the dog are 5 hours away from home and hiking through a national park that they’ve never been to or studied. They haven’t eaten anything since dawn. They haven’t rested since dawn. Kira yearns to go radio silent and find the missing girl without considering what would happen if she did. Cady would freak out, thinking something happened to Kira. The SAR team and rangers would have to split up (taking away bodies and time from searching for the missing girl) to find and locate Kira. She’s in unknown terrain at night and can easily injure herself or her dog. Kira isn’t aware of anything; she has tunnel vision and never thinks ideas through.

I’m on the fence about Kira’s memory. It’s rare for someone to remember much from their toddler years. I refuse to believe that based on her current mindset and irrational thoughts that she can recall snippets of adult thoughts that her 3-year-old self was having. How does a toddler survive this long in dangerous elements? How does she know to seek shelter, food, and water? What toddler thinks like an adult? PTSD is a factor that plays into this and Barnes elaborates this by putting triggers into the story. But memory isn’t 100%, even years after an event.

Cady should have prevented Kira from participating in the SAR. First, she’s a minor, and second, she was once a child lost in the woods so what do you think is going to happen as she’s hiking on her own in an unknown terrain? Cue the flashbacks and anxiety. She is already unstable, and her emotions tied to her past cloud her judgement for every second she spends searching for this child. She should not be working or interfering with this mission. Cady should have realized this instead of letting her foster daughter roam around the woods with her fragile mindset.

Let’s move on to the dogs for a bit. Silver is a 13 year old German Shepherd (Kira later says she is 12 so which one is it?) and also the dog that found Kira many years ago. Kira makes a comment at one point saying that Silver walks stiffly for a moment and hates to think about her getting old. 13 years for a German Shepherd is ancient. It’s rare for one to live that long, especially since hip dysplasia sets in around 6 or 7. I’m amazed that this miracle dog is prancing around like a puppy without any difficulties except occasional stiffness.

Kira’s personal SAR dog is a Husky named Saskia. This dog is unfriendly and somewhat aggressive to people and animals that she doesn’t know. Kira doesn’t think there is anything wrong with certifying Saskia as a SAR dog. If the dog is aggressive towards humans and animals, then it doesn’t need to be in that kind of environment. Certifying is a bad idea, especially when a dog that doesn’t like people is paired with a girl that also doesn’t like people and they both are set loose in the wilderness. Saskia growls and snaps at the sheriff when he tries to grab her collar. Yes, the sheriff should have let Saskia sniff his hand before making a move, but what happens when you’re in public and a screaming toddler runs up to the dog in excitement and sticks its hand in the dog’s face? A SAR dog must be accepting to unfamiliar situations and traipsing around a multitude of people.

Apparently the SAR dogs in this story are also trained emotional support dogs, trained therapy dogs, trained service dogs, and trained attack dogs. Cady only trained them for SAR so how do they somehow know all these other things? The dogs look someone over, like Kira, when they first meet a new person to see if they need to attack them. Silver and Saskia can also communicate with Kira telepathically. They know what she is thinking and how to comfort her based on her thoughts and thoughts alone. Body language isn’t factored into this.

The ending was impossible since this tiny, old character managed to carry another tall and fit character through the woods for many miles. Not sure how they managed to do this. Despite the summary mentioning the missing girl, that was a minor detail with the family secrets and drama taking up most of the lack of plot. Everything was predictable and all characters were carbon copies from Lucifer or other cliché characters in many teen stories.

Despite me not agreeing with how this was written, thank you for giving me the chance to read this, NetGalley.
Profile Image for Kate McMurry.
Author 1 book78 followers
June 5, 2019
Review of audiobook version of gripping, young-adult thriller with amazing dogs!

Kira Bennett was only 5 years old when she was rescued over 11 years ago by Cady Bennett, one of the foremost search and rescue (SAR) handlers in the country. Kira was found abandoned and seriously injured in the forest near a fictional small town called Chester Falls. Soon after, Cady adopted Kira and spent years helping her overcome a serious case of PTSD. In spite of plenty of therapy and the loving, nurturing care of Cady and her natural son, Jude, who is Kira’s age, and the tender support of Silver, a SAR-trained German shepherd who is currently an elderly 13-year-old, Kira has continued to the present day to have amnesia about what her life was like before Cady. Neither Kira’s therapist, Cady, or Jude have pushed her to remember, not wanting Kira to have to face terrible memories a moment before she is ready.

For some time now, Cady has retired from active SAR assignments and, instead, has settled down to raise her children and run a home-based business as one of the foremost breeders and trainers of elite SAR dogs who specialize in tracking missing persons. Cady mainly trains bloodhounds, German shepherds and golden retrievers.

Kira, Jude and their neighbor, Free, who is their age and like a sister to them, are all planning to get certified as SAR handlers next year when they turn 18. Each has a SAR dog they primarily work with and have helped train. Kira’s dog is Saskia, a husky who is a rescue dog who was abused and abandoned, with bloody wounds, on the edge of Cady’s country property a few years ago. Kira identifies with Saskia who has, in spite of Cady’s misgivings, been trained by Kira into an excellent SAR dog. Unfortunately, because both Kira and Saskia have a traumatic past, they share a similar problem that may affect their ultimately becoming SAR certified: They may not be "sociable" enough. They both will have to be able to play well with others, that is, other SAR handlers and dogs. But sometimes both of them have trouble with overreacting with hostility to actual or imagined aggression from others.

The significant events of this novel begin when Cady’s father, Bales Bennett, from whom she’s been estranged for 17 years, tracks her down and asks for her help in locating a missing person—one of several visitors who have disappeared in the Sierra Glades National Park during the past twelve months. Bales is also a SAR handler who trains SAR dogs, and Cady would be working with him, and running into many people from the small town she grew up in. Since Cady wants nothing to do with her father (for reasons which are not revealed until very late in the book), she initially refuses his request. However, she cannot continue to resist her father’s request because the victim is a young child, and she soon gives in.

Kira, Jude and Free are all allowed to come with Cady to join in the SAR efforts, which puts their training as handlers, and the skills they have imparted to their dogs, to the test in 750,000 acres of mountainous wilderness. In the midst of searching for the lost child in circumstances similar to what she herself endured as an abandoned child, Kira begins to experience intense flashbacks as long-suppressed memories of pain and fear come to the surface.

This book is quite an intense read. It has elements of a murder mystery, a psychological thriller, a family drama, and due to Kira’s PTSD, there is a supercharged version of the classic “coming of age” theme which is the essential core of every young adult (YA) novel.

The author never specifically says what state this story is set in, but given that sequoias are mentioned and the Sierra Mountains, I’m guessing it’s meant to be California. Chester Falls and the Sierra Glades National Park are fictional, but the latter seems to be based on the Sierra National Forest, which is located on the western slope of the central Sierra Nevada Mountain range in Central California.

In far too many YA novels, the parents are either inexplicably absent, unreasonably harsh, or completely clueless. It is therefore refreshing that Cady is an amazingly compassionate, competent, and loving parent to her natural son Jude and her adopted daughter Kira. Cady also serves as a surrogate parent to Free, who is a near neighbor to Cady and has been emotionally, and often physically, abandoned by her neglectful parents.

I greatly enjoyed reading about the extremely close relationship between Kira, Jude and Free, who are like the Three Musketeers. The relationship between Jude and Kira is also extremely touching. Jude is sunlight to Kira’s darkness, which contrast serves to balance each other’s personalities. Though Jude is over six-feet tall and Kira is only five-feet tall, at the very beginning of the book, she stands up to and backs down several twenty-something, drunken bullies who have crashed a teenage party and who are on the verge of physically attacking Jude. This scene lets us know immediately that there is nothing Kira wouldn’t do to keep Jude, Cady and their dogs safe from harm.

Speaking of the dogs, they are a major draw of this book as far as I’m concerned. Dog lovers will adore reading about them. In addition to Silver and Saskia, who absolutely steal the show, there is another SAR dog in the book who is fascinating. Padawan (Pad), is a 14-month-old golden retriever who is a superstar at SAR, able to switch back and forth between air scenting to cover a large area, and following a specific scent path across any and all terrain.

In the midst of the dramatic main events of the story, I was fascinated to read about how SAR dogs are trained. I did not know that at the center of any SAR training program is play, that for the dog, searching is a game. Dogs with a strong drive to play will apparently keep playing at SAR indefinitely, even under overwhelming wilderness conditions, until they win the game by finding their target, the lost person. These dogs are invaluable to SAR teams because a single SAR dog can cover as much ground as 50 or more human searchers.

This book is filled with mysteries, which kept me glued to the story. Some, but not all, of these mysteries include:

Where is the lost little girl? Did someone kidnap her? Is she alive or dead?
Why have many other people, besides the little girl, been disappearing in the Sierra Glades National Park where the little girl has vanished? Is there a serial killer on the loose?
What happened to Kira as a small child? Why was she abandoned? Who were her natural parents?
Why has Cady refused to have a relationship with her father? What did he do wrong?
If Cady’s father is currently able to track her down, why hasn’t he done it before?
Who is Jude’s biological father? Why hasn’t Cady told Jude who he is and allowed him to have a relationship with his father? Or is his father dead?

Kira is a fascinating and sympathetic protagonist, a strong, determined survivor. The cast of characters around her, both human and canine, are all extremely well drawn and well motivated. The wilderness setting is a fascinating departure for a YA novel.

I experienced this story in audiobook format. The narrator, Emily Lawrence, read this thriller in a breathless, strained style meant to reflect the constant anxiety of Kira as she worries about the little lost little girl and struggles to deal with her own PTSD flashbacks. It got a bit exhausting listening to that type of performance, which made me wonder if this book wouldn’t be less stressful to read in Kindle or paper format.

I rate this book as follows:

Heroine: 5 stars
Subcharacters: 5 stars
SAR Plot: 5 stars
PTSD Plot: 5 stars
SAR Dogs Plot: 5 stars
Family Secrets Plot: 5 stars
Setting: 5 stars
Writing: 5 stars
Overall: 5 stars
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews714 followers
August 14, 2019
I truly feel blessed anytime I finish a book by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Over the past year, she has quickly shot up to one of my favorite authors. Her talent for writing some of the best relationships to grace YA draws me in and I cannot help but finish any book I read by her with my mouth hanging open and desperate for a sequel. If flawed characters, found family, trauma handled well, the best of dogs and a bit of a mystery are your thing, The Lovely and the Lost is the book for you.

Kira does not trust many people except for her family. It took years after Cady rescued her for Kira to learn how to trust again and now she is following in Cady’s footsteps and training to become a search and rescue professional. When Cady’s father shows up out of the blue, asking them to join the search for a little lost girl, secrets start coming out. Things Cady has never disclosed about her past and Kira’s memories of a time before Cady & Jude & Free.

I genuinely love how this book dealt with Kira’s resurfacing memories and how much support she had from the people around her. Everyone in this book is so fiercely protective of each other. I love that it isn’t just a surface level bond. They fight, hurt each other sometimes but also know when they need to apologize and admit to their mistakes.

While there is a strong mystery element to this book, I felt like it took a backseat to the characters themselves. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because I honestly just loved the characters. Free, Jude and Kira all have such distinct personalities and when you throw in Gabriel into the mix … shenanigans ensue.

“I understand now,” Gabriel said thoughtfully. “The three of you share a single iota of common sense. I’m just a little unclear on which one of you has custody of it now.”

To be clear, even though I thought that the characters were at the forefront of this book rather than the plot, there was still an urgency running throughout the book because a child was missing and out alone. The child was never forgotten about. Rather, their search for the child eventually lead them to reflect inwards. They were also stepping back into Cady’s past so… yeah… secrets came out.

This book doesn’t really end on a cliffhanger but some information is divulged that makes me want to beg Disney to give us a sequel. I am not done with these characters and I don’t think JLB is done with these characters either so I really hope we get to see them again. OTHERWISE I’ll just have to reread my favorite scenes from now till the end of time.
Profile Image for Alexa.
Author 5 books3,134 followers
May 20, 2019
I've never read a Jennifer Lynn Barnes book until now, and must immediately rectify this! The Lovely and the Lost was a compelling read with a sub-culture I readily fell into and characters I cared for. I could tell I was in the hands of a skilled writer from the first chapter.

Probably my favorite aspect of the book was the deep dive into the sub-culture of search and rescue, and the mountain town setting. I loved every single second of the dogs--loved their names, their personalities, how they interacted with the humans. The whole book has a level of specificity of world and character that really makes it stand apart for me. I was so happy to lose myself in a YA book where I truly got to slip into a total stranger's shoes and experience this other world with them.

I must share a dog-shaped spoiler because I know these things are important to many readers:

Probably my only note, hardly a quibble, but notable is that I found the backstory with the adults in the story to be really juicy, but felt almost out of place at the end? I felt like I kind of wished that had been a novel, or even an adult thriller from Cady's POV so we could get deep flashbacks to when they were younger, etc. I just found those characters and dynamics so interesting, whereas the teen characters in this YA, for good reason, don't have any romance or complex dynamics along those lines. So the juicy bits were about the adults. But, to that end, the book is a great example of a complex YA with a dynamic female lead who has no romance--I know many readers are looking for that kind of story.

I'm also left with a few questions about the disappearances in the town, and some threads that feel almost dropped, but it's nothing major. It's not a book where you get all the answers.
Profile Image for Shelley.
5,103 reviews458 followers
April 23, 2019
*Source* Publisher
*Genre* Young Adult, Thriller
*Rating* 3.5


The story follows the Bennett family Cadence (Cady), one of the best search and rescue dog trainers in the country, her son Jude, her adopted daughter Kira, who she found in the woods 11 years ago, and Phoebe (Free) Morrow who has inserted herself into the family dynamics and refuses to be left behind when the family is asked by Cady's father Bales, to help search for a missing girl who disappeared in Sierra Glades National Park. With its lush mountain setting, pulse-pounding intrigue, cast of unique characters -including a troop of rescue dogs-this book makes a great pitch for television and film.

*Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews*

Profile Image for Kelsea Yu.
534 reviews99 followers
September 17, 2022
4.5 stars!

I binged this beautiful book last night and WOW! Loved it start to finish! I’m a huge fan of Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s The Naturals series, so I was excited to get my hands on The Lovely and the Lost, her newest YA thriller!

It had everything I love about her books (plot twists, interesting premise, and well-written characters). And the setup was so interesting! The MC, Kira, is a teenager who was found in the woods as a child and taken in by a foster mom. She has the sweetest foster brother and best friend (I loved them both). AND her family trains search and rescue dogs. Kira’s dog, Saskia, is an incredibly competent wolf-like husky who trusts very few people.

I had so much fun with this story and recommend it for anyone looking for a YA thriller with a survivalist element!
Profile Image for Mara.
1,464 reviews3,557 followers
July 15, 2019
While there are some real pacing issues in this book that should make me give this more like a 3.5, I basically don't care about them. This was giving me all the JLB YA mystery vibes that I love, this time in a search & rescue story FILLED with amazing doggos doing amazing things. This is about found family, what human dignity means, and that ending though... I really need a sequel. Very much enjoyed this one
Profile Image for rin.
411 reviews491 followers
Want to read
November 21, 2016
im going to read everything by JLB idec what it is about
Profile Image for Erin Arkin.
1,640 reviews358 followers
April 19, 2019
The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is the second book I’ve read by her and I have to say, I enjoyed the story and based on both books I will definitely be checking out more!

I wasn’t really sure where this story was going to go based on the summary, but I don’t mind a darker storyline in the books I read and Kira’s story isn’t all rainbows, that’s for sure. There is no question in my mind that Kira is a survivor and I’m convinced that Cady Bennett came into her life at exactly the right time. Kira’s memories go back to a point where she was living alone and wild in the woods and she has no idea how long she had been trying to survive that way. When Cady and one of her rescue dogs find her, she immediately becomes a part of her family. Although that is great, it is clear that Kira still struggles being “normal”, but she has Cady, her adopted brother Jude, and their neighbor Free to help and support her.

I have to say, while I enjoyed the characters in this book, my absolute favorite person was Jude. He brings the right level of optimism and levity to this story to balance out the pieces that could really make this a tough read. He loves his family and is extremely loyal and I love that about him. There are several things in his story that could have made him an angry teenager, but I appreciate that he is the type of character to challenge everyone around him to see things in a more positive way.

Cady was an interesting character for me. She has some secrets and by agreeing to her father’s request and going home, she is opening some old wounds. Not only that, her decision has created some challenges because of the secrets she has kept and Kira’s history. I loved her relationship with Kira. She wasn’t forcing her to be someone she wasn’t and while she was protective (as any parent would be), she gave Kira the space needed to come back to the human world on her terms.

So, to get to the story, when Cady’s estranged father tracks her down and asks her to help locate a missing girl, she agrees and brings Jude, Kira, and Free with her to the Sierra Glades National Park. As I mentioned, this has brought back some tough memories for Kira and she becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. What they don’t know is that this search will put them all in danger and those secrets I mentioned will force everyone to face some things that they probably would have rather left uncovered.

I can’t say much about the story for fear of giving something away, but I will say that I loved how Barnes developed the relationships amongst the characters, including the search and rescue dogs. They were integral to the story and the secondary characters were just as well done and are the catalyst to several things that happen in the book.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. This story kept me turning the pages because I had to find out what was going to happen next with everyone and while I wanted a bit more at the end, I thought this was well done and only solidified the fact that I need to read more books by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. If you are looking for a story with a bit of a mystery and some interesting characters, check this one out!

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the early copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sharon.
535 reviews2 followers
March 21, 2019
Gripping, intense, and utterly captivating! A little girl lost in the forest brings a family together on a search and rescue mission. For Kira, the search brings back chilling memories before her foster mother Cady found her in the woods as a child -- dirty, feral and unable to speak. Now a teenager nurtured by Cady and her son Jude, Kira works with rescue dogs to search for missing persons.

While the story explores familial relationships and secrets, it's also a glowing tribute to the people and dogs involved in search and rescue as they are a huge component of wilderness tracking, natural disasters, mass casualty events, and in locating the lost.

I totally wanted to hug Silver, Saskia, Duchess and NATO just because of JLB's portrayals of these dedicated and lovable canines! It's not lost on the reader that Kira's intuition and close relationship with Silver and Saskia has much to do with her survival in the woods as a child and her honed animal senses.

There are lots of layers to this story, from the relationship between Cady and Kira; Kira and her foster brother Jude and best friend Free; Cady and her dad Bales; Cady and her friend Mac; and Kira and Gabriel, another teen with a mysterious past. Keeping it all straight was actually not that hard, and in fact, it kept this story moving at a fast pace to the inevitable yet still surprising conclusion.

Many thanks to #NetGalley and the publisher #Freeform for the advanced reader copy in return for this honest and heartfelt review!
Profile Image for Samantha.
1,588 reviews71 followers
June 11, 2020
3.5 stars.

Conceptually, this was an excellent story. The execution, however, really needed some cleanup.

I enjoyed the basic premise of the book immensely, but the pacing was really uneven. The first half of the book drags badly. It’s difficult to engage with and is jammed with way too much “witty banter” that really isn’t all that witty.

Things change in the second half of the book, where something shifts and the story began to captivate me. This is partially because the bulk of the action takes place in the latter part of the book (makes sense to a point, but the reader would have benefitted from a little more in the first half to make the early going a bit more compelling.) Additionally, the second half of the book provides some much-needed character depth on several of the principals, which made it easier to engage as a reader.

There are twists and turns in spades in the last hundred or so pages, some of which are excellent and some of which border on the nonsensical. The “solve” was-in a theoretical sense-a good one, but it felt kind of half baked in practice.

In all, this is is a good story that just needed better cleanup and editing. I also wish Barnes would back off with the snappy dialogue. This has been a problem in most of her novels (all of which, for the record, I liked in a more general sense). She just isn’t as funny as she thinks she is, and it always damages the overall quality of her otherwise well-written work.

*I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Lori.
900 reviews602 followers
June 17, 2019
Guys. I couldn't put this one down. I didn't know what to expect going in, I hadn't read the synopsis, but I've loved JLB's books before so I just went for it. And I was hooked! It's not perfect but the story and the characters and the intensity and emotions kept me glued to the pages. I needed to know what happened to Bella and I desperately needed to know what Kira's story was and if she was going to be okay. Add in the Search and Rescue aspect and the K9s and this was definitely a book for me. So keep your eyes open for this one!

Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Rukky.
206 reviews44 followers
October 26, 2019
This was...interesting, but also disappointing. I had really high hopes, but I didn't connect to Kira, though I thought she was an interesting and different type of MC. Her struggles, and pain, and just lack of connection to the world was done really well and I liked it.

But overall it was just meh.

The ending surprised me and I absolutely loved Jude (who can't? He's contagiously positive and happy 😂😍) and Free was nice, and I love thier friendship, but the mystery was meh. This was more of a tracking and finding a missing girl, not really about solving the mystery of who and why, which I guess was what I was expecting.

Nonetheless, it was still a good book.

Full official review to come!
Profile Image for Christy.
605 reviews246 followers
June 2, 2019
Oh my heart. I fell in love with the characters and the amazing search and rescue dogs ❤️
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