I received an ARC of ‘I Have Lost My Way’ from BookishFirst (and Viking Books for Young Readers); THANK YOU!
I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this book as much as I did, as the blurb didn’t really grab me at all, and some of Gayle Forman’s books have been a little too “lovey-dovey” for me. (Note: Different strokes for different folks; I think all literature is worthy of being written and read.) Sci-fi and fantasy reads are more my thing, but I’m always willing to give a good diverse contemporary book a try. And I ended up absolutely *loving* this novel. I sat down and read it cover to cover. This will absolutely now be one of those books I recommend to others over and over.
The book revolves around three strangers in New York City, all brought together by a freak incident. The strangers appear to have absolutely nothing in common except that they’re all experiencing some sort of grief surrounding a perceived loss. At first they don’t know that they share this commonality, of course, and each of their stories play out through alternating sections of current-day story (involving all 3 main characters) and past history (individually for each). This works *really* well for this type of storyline and keeps it from getting muddled.
Initially we are introduced to Freya, an up-and-coming internet pop star with a record deal who has somehow lost her ability to sing, Harun, a young Muslim man going through some serious heartbreak and internal struggles, and Nathaniel, a somewhat-spacey character from out of town who has come to NYC to meet up with his father.
Of course, these are just the outwardly-facing personas these characters project and share, when in reality there is *so much more* going on behind the scenes. Each character has a complex story of loss and grief that has brought them to where they are today, upon meeting each other in Central Park. While the relationships between these characters are initially awkward, as you’d expect from three strangers haphazardly thrown together, as each character opens up, you start to imagine how they can help each other, and whether their meeting was all part of a bigger plan. The story is not forced at all, and the individuals slowly bond over a day full of both random, and not-so-random, activities throughout the city of New York. (And oh, how I love New York! This book does a spectacular job of getting the feel of the city *just* right.)
I definitely feel the need to point out that the amount of diversity in this book is especially uplifting, and that the author’s acknowledgements show far & wide that Forman did her sensitivity & culture homework. (Yes, I’m one of those people that always reads the acknowledgements; I know we’re few and far between!) We have a Pakistani character, an Ethiopian/Jewish character, a gay character, a mentally-ill character, a wealthy character, a poor character, a Muslim character, a Christian character, a black character, an amputee, and multiple mixed-race relationships. (Some of these attributes relate to the same person/people... no spoilers!) While that much diversity may usually seem like someone is just “ticking boxes”, I absolutely have to stress that this does not feel forced in *any* way. Personally, I feel that’s one of the best compliments and an absolutely massive accomplishment on Forman’s part.
This book left me buzzing, imagining how these characters live out the rest of their day, and then their week, let alone the rest of their lives. I love that it was left open-ended enough, and while I’m fairly-sure this is a stand-alone novel, I could see a follow-up with the same, or even similar characters written in this same format. I’d pick it up for sure, as this book was excellent. My rating: 5/5