Rummanah Aasi

   I am participating in the Teen Book Scene blog tour for Susan Niz's debut novel titled Kara, Lost. Much thanks to Teen Book Scene for including me on this tour and to Susan for providing me a copy of the book in order to do an honest review. Please stay tuned tomorrow when Susan talks about what items her teenage self would sell in a garage sale!
Description: When Kara's parents give her an ultimatum that she feels is unfair, she has no choice but to flee, trading in her home and family for a gritty, anonymous existence on the streets of Minneapolis. She begins a perilous journey trying to survive on her own just by living on bare necessities. Will Kara make it on her own or will she return home and accept defeat? 
Review: Kara, Lost is a basic story of one teen's search for independence and survival. When Kara's parents give her an ultimatum of taking antidepressant medication or being grounded until she relents, Kara makes an emotional decision to runaway and thus setting up a chain reaction of living on the edge, taking one day at a time. 
  When her safety net of living with her sister (who also ran away and lives independently) falls through, Kara must find a job and a home that accept minors or better yet, the less information about her, the better. Kara is an impulsive character. She quickly jumps to assumptions, which coincidentally turn out to be true. She knows she is in deep waters, but she does have set goals for herself: get a job, save money, find a shelter, and basically survive. She pushes through and continues to fight even when she could easily concede and go back home.
  Kara, Lost is story of a series of moments that should make our hearts pump, gasp, and quickly turn the pages, however, we are just a few steps behind Kara and feel detached from the story. We learn everything from Kara as she is the narrator of the story, however, we are never given the chance to make our own decisions of what happened or about characters. There are lots of telling of what Kara is going through, but we never get to experience her anxiety or her fear, thus slowing down the pace of the book and have us scrambling of how to react to her story. 
  While I do think Niz does a good job in not glorify running away or struggling to live on an income of less than $1,000 a month, Kara's story is lost upon others who haven't gone through similar experiences. This is a story that doesn't really stick in our heads once the last page is turned. I would, however, recommend this book to those who are looking for an unique story about living on the streets, a topic that is still being explored in YA literature. 
Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language as well as several instances of teen smoking. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Theories of Relativity by Barbara Haworth-Attard or Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen or Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich.
2 Responses
  1. Sounds like a timely book, with the rate for homeless children in the US reaching unprecedented levels. It's shame that it seems to be told in a more passive, observatory way rather than an active one, but it sounds like it could work out well paired with something like Nickled and Dimed?


  2. Linds, I think it's pretty obvious that the author is drawing from personal experiences, but I felt the long passages of observation drew me out of the story instead of being in Kara's shoes. Thanks for the Nickel and Dimed pairing! I totally forgot about that. I've edited and added that to the read-alikes too.

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