Hey Guys! It is Max here and we will be handling a book review today. The book which we will be reviewing is called ‘We Are Lost And Found’ by Helene Dunbar. I received an Advance Readers Copy of this novel from the lovely publishing company christened Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley to appoint you all with a book review.
Before we jump right into the book review, I would like to furnish you all with the fundamentals:
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT Historical Fiction.
Page Count: 304
Release Date: 3rd of September 2019
So, without further ado, let us dive right into the book review!
- All thoughts and opinions are on my own and,
- The review for this book is spoiler-proof. So, feel free to stay until the very end of this article!
A poignant, heartbreaking, and uplifting story in the tradition of The Perks of Being a Wallflower about three friends coming of age in the early 1980s as they struggle to forge their own paths in the face of fear of the unknown.
Michael is content to live in the shadow of his best friends, James, an enigmatic teen performance artist who everyone wants and no one can have and Becky, who calls things as she sees them while doing all she can to protect those she loves. His brother, Connor, has already been kicked out of the house for being gay and laying low seems to be his only chance to avoid the same fate.
To pass the time before graduation, Michael hangs out at The Echo where he can dance and forget about his father’s angry words, the pressures of school, and the looming threat of AIDS, a disease that everyone is talking about, but no one understands.
Then he meets Gabriel, a boy who actually sees him. A boy who, unlike seemingly everyone else in New York City, is interested in him and not James. And Michael has to decide what he’s willing to risk to be himself.
Apart from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margeret Atwood, this might be the most important novel that I had read thus far this year. As the synopsis had stated, the story is set in the 1980s, where societal attitudes toward homosexuality were not pleasant and the threat of AIDs was discommoding to the gay community as no one understood what was going on and how this disease was supposed to be prevented. This novel allows us to witness the struggles of the people back in the ’80s which I will converse more on in the atmospheric section of this review.
“But it’s like going back to your old elementary school to visit your teachers and finding the water fountains too low to reach. Maybe The Echo hasn’t changed, but I have.”
This novel follows Michael, a closeted-gay whose father had recently banned his brother from coming home as he had come out to his parents for being gay. His plan was to lay low and not make irrational decisions in fear of being kicked out of the house like his brother by his father. His father, who was verbally abusive, tormented him with abhorrent terms day and night and the only way he could forget all of these for a little while was attending a club christened ‘The Echo’ where he danced it all out and dissipated himself in the flow. As the story progresses, the imminent threat of AIDs became more apparent and everybody in the gay community was afraid that they might catch the disease if they were to have sexual intercourse. This affected our main character on several levels as he was afraid for his best friend, James and his brother’s lives.
“Oh, Michael, seriously? What do you think they said? That it was random. Wrong place, wrong time. That sort of thing. But even if they’d caught someone, you know how these things play out. They’ll claim I made a pass as them, that they simply couldn’t help but protect themselves from the onslaught of my passions. As if.”
The ambience around this novel was gripping, upsetting and agitating. Upsetting because of how the protagonist and his brother were treated at home. Gripping because of how the threat of AIDs was exterminating people and that there was not an excavated prevention to AIDs as they do not understand what it was back in the ’80s. Agitating because of how society treated people who were gay back then and it tugged at my heartstrings to read about it.
“James hesitated because he knows I hate inviting myself to places. The feeling that I might be intruding.”
Similar to the writing style of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, the writing style of this novel lacked quotation marks. To be honest, I do not like this kind of writing style as it does not correlate with me and I would also be confused half of the time by the lack of quotations. A sample to how lack of quotations in writing style goes in my brain: Is the character conversing? Is he having an internal monologue? Is he exhibiting his emotions or is he saying his feeling out loud? What? Oh, he is conversing with James. Other than the paucity of quotations, I thought the writing style was well-rounded and polished in a debonair manner. Moreover, I could not stop excerpting the book as the whole book was so quotable. For example:
“Her answer feels wrong. Limited. Like, there have to be more than two options.”
“Rules. My father’s rules: Don’t make noise. Don’t draw the wrong kind of attention to yourself. Don’t stand up for anything you believe in. Don’t show any emotion that isn’t anger. Don’t be yourself.”
“Books. Cassettes. Tiny origami shapes: dragons and roses and stars. My father sneers at these gifts when I don’t get to them first.”
GOOSEBUMPS, am I right?
An element in the book which I did not particularly enjoy was the incessant repetition of our protagonist going to The Echo to dance. It took several homogeneous scenes of our protagonist rollicking in The Echo for something to finally transpire. I thought if those scenes could be shortened down and the plot was to be impelled forward without those verbose displays, this would absolutely be an irreproachable book (exclude the quotation marks).
In conclusion, I am furnishing this novel with a (B) 75%. I thought it was an important novel that should be read by everyone as it would give you an insight into the ’80s and how people were treated back then with the emerging fulminations of AIDs.
This is the end of my spoiler-free review for We Are Lost And Found By Helene Dunbar! I hope you all enjoyed it and follow me with your email/Wordpress account to get notifications when I post a new article! Bye!