C.G. Drews's Reviews > We Are Lost and Found

We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 5-star, best-of-2019, contemporary, read-2019, ya-male-narrators, young-adult

This was so exceptionally beautiful and haunting. And I am just 😫💛. I read half of it in one sitting and then just made myself stop so I could absorb the emotions (plus I didn't want it to be over so fast?!) It definitely gave me Perks of Being a Wallflower vibes, but it was still unique and it's own whole self. It's so deeply about anxiety and being lost to it, but also about healing. And those are the kind of books that just make my heart swell.

yes pls wreck me, dear books, but also leave me with shards of hope to hold onto.

// it's set in the '80s when the AIDS crisis was beginning
Technically the crisis was in full swing, but without internet access like we have today it wasn't that easy just to KNOW what was happening. You mostly had to hear it from people and read the papers etc. (And I literally just saw someone posting on twitter this newspaper article clipping from the '90s talking about eugenics for gay people being a "possible hope" so. Excuse me while I vomit. But also we know papers also oppress minorities.) Mostly, we have this story of queer teens who are scared.

that is so the crux of this story too: fear. The unknown. Wanting and straining towards something, wanting your whole life to stretch before you so you can own it -- but being afraid of a disease no one knows much about. I felt the book captured it hauntingly and really made me feel the ache on every page.

I also want to say this never felt like queer pain porn. Never. There is pain and the messiness of falling in love secretly because you're queer and your parents would throw you out if they knew, and wanting to have sex but being terrified of AIDS, and knowing people are dying. And it was all so heartfelt and respectfully done.

I also SO appreciated the afterwards from the queer activists!! I don't know much about this time period tbh, and just hearing people speak about it with 1st hand accounts was amazing and so important.

// characters
Ok here is where I always fall in love with books!!! Characters are my #1, my heart, and constantly the book's soul. So pls meet my new loves: Michale, James and Becky (with shout outs to Connor and Gabriel too!!)

Michael: He narrates and he was just ajfldsad everything. I love that moment when you connect with what a character feels, with their fears and dreams, so reading Michael was so special to me. He's gay and super closeted but he doesn't want to be. His parents threw his older brother Connor out when he announced (loudly; in public) that he was gay. And ok it doesn't look like abuse? But he's literally cowed into silence, to fear, so he can stay home. He's 16. I ached for him and his voice is so raw and real.
James: he's such a theatre kid and dramatic and pretentious and dresses wildly and I LOVED HIM. He's also super gay and his anxiety over AIDS honestly has driven him into such deep fear. Like, you just want to immediately fite anyone who gives James a hard time. He and Michael are super close, maybe Michael has a little crush on him, but their dynamics are this deep entwined friendship and I really love books that say how valuable friendship is.
Becky: they out right say it, Becky is their heart. She's simultaneously sweet and no-nonsense and she massively looks out for Michael and James, as well as has her own problems and life and ambitious.

I loved them all together, how easily they fit. Like super tight friendship squads are my heaaaart.

And also Michael's older brother Connor had one of the best arcs. And then there's Gabriel, Michael's crush he meets at a club. Idk how he managed to be so sweet in just a few sentences but there we go. (I seriously wanted to know more about him though!!)

// the writing
So it is formatted differently and I think it's good to be aware of that! It's done in vignettes, no chapters, and there are no quotation marks! At first I was: oh the no-quotation marks are gonna kill me. But then I loved it?! It just flowed so seamlessly and the style really clicked for me. I like to appreciate the different ways books tell their stories.

Also this style so reminded me of The Wicker King, aka the book of my heart and I will never be over!!! So WALaF is another one!!! To add to the list!!! of book writing styles I am obsessed with !!!!

// this is the kind of story that reads raw and bleeding with heartache and hope and I couldn't love it more
The vivid NY setting, the styles, the music, the timelessness of kids just wanting to understand themselves and love and make their lives mean something despite anxiety -- it was beautifully captured. It made me want to CRY. Several times. Ahhh. It meant a lot to me, both personally with some of the feels and just also solidly as an incredibly good read.

At home, my guitar is silent. Talk to me, I beg. Talk to me.
When I complain to James, he says, That's how you know you're an artist, Michael; the muse takes you as her fickle lover.

I don't sit around thinking about the fact that I'm attracted to boys, because then I start thinking about all the things I want and don't know how to get.
And I don't talk about the fact that I'm attracted to boys because I don't see the point, given that I obviously don't have a boyfriend or anything, and the only reason I have somewhere to live is because, having heard nothing to the contrary, my parents assume I'm straight.
Besides, Connor has done enough talking for both of us.

It's a song that craves to be sung, a chord bent out of shape. My feelings for James are just one more of the things I've learned to stay silent about.

I could even be myself, if I ever figure out who that is.

It's true, you know, James says after a while. It's the things that we are missing that keep us searching for a reason to stay alive.
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Reading Progress

December 20, 2018 – Shelved
December 20, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
August 30, 2019 – Started Reading
August 30, 2019 –
page 128
44.14% "this is giving me aching and intense Perks vibes and I love it 😫💛"
August 30, 2019 – Shelved as: 5-star
August 30, 2019 – Shelved as: best-of-2019
August 30, 2019 – Shelved as: contemporary
August 30, 2019 – Shelved as: read-2019
August 30, 2019 – Shelved as: ya-male-narrators
August 30, 2019 – Shelved as: young-adult
August 30, 2019 – Finished Reading

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