Rummanah Aasi

Description: Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in helping the others out of theirs.

Review: Gayle Forman's If I Stay and Where She Went were both cathartic reads for me that left me emotionally spent. I expected to feel the same with her latest book, I Have Lost My Way but unfortunately I felt underwhelmed and disappointed.
   I Have Lost My Way takes place in a span of a day where a chance meeting leads to intimate connections for three struggling teens who are all reeling from loss and aimlessness.  Freya is an up-and-coming singer who has lost her voice, to her controlling manager’s chagrin. She sacrificed her family for a musical career that seems ephemeral. It was not clear to me whether or not Freya wanted a musical career at all or if it was just an opportunity to have felt desired and loved which is noted by the number of fans she has on social media. Compared to Harun and Nathaniel, Freya was the weakest character and her problem didn't seem as important.
  Harun is a closeted Pakistani Muslim gay teen who is terrified to come out to his conservative family and let his family down. Considering my own background as a Pakistani Muslim, I was immediately drawn to Harun and I wanted to know more of his heartbreaking story. There is an attempt to explain Islamophobia post-9/11 that completely fell flat for me. Harun's parents also felt very much like caricatures too.
 Nathaniel just flew into the city, and he’s hiding the true reason for his visit. Nathaniel was a complete mystery to me. There are mentions of mental health issues with his story, particularly with the way his father behaved and I wanted some clarification as to what Nathaniel and his father ailed from rather than a vague notion.
  The book's structure follows the slice of life, twenty-four hour setting trope which, in my opinion, hinders the emotional impact of the book. After colliding into each other in Central Park, the teens each privately are drawn to one another and begin to develop connections as they open up to each other and become vulnerable. The narration changes among the teens’ perspectives which keeps the pace quick and lively, but the transitions between narrators is jarring and abrupt; making the execution too choppy. There are intermittent flashback chapters that focus on each character which allows the reader to understand their backstories, however, I still felt disconnected to Freya, Harun, and Nathaniel. There are many important issues brought up in the book from abandonment, mental health, and sexual identity but none of these topics are fully discussed. I would have liked to spent more time with these characters and really understand them. It is clear that they provide an important community for one another, but I would have liked to have seen it as a participant rather than a viewer. I don't mind that there are no easy answers for these characters, but I do want to have an idea of what happened next.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, mentions of sex, underage drinking, and a suicide attempt. Recommended for Grades 10 and up.

If you like this book try: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
6 Responses
  1. Sigh... I was hoping this was going to be better. Unfortunately, the last few Forman books for me have been flops. I think I am going to have to pass this one up. Thanks for the helpful review.

  2. I think it's difficult when we love books by an author because our expectations are so high with each new novel. Too bad this one was disappointing. I think it's especially difficult when we see our own culture represented badly in a story. Your description of Harun made me think of an NPR story I heard today that the Pakistani government passed a law protecting transgender people.

  3. I dropped everything when I saw the title of your blog post, thinking you were in trouble yourself. Glad to know you are fine and have just finished reading a books which, apparently, lost its way (to your heart?) Happy Wednesday!

  4. Oh no! I like this author but yea, some of her stuff can fall flat and I'm sad to hear that the experience didn't work. I think it would be important to get the post 9/11 Islamophobia right. Still, it sounds like you did get something to take away from the book. Not sure this one is for me as I do need to connect to my characters. Brilly review!

  5. Ash Says:

    I've been seeing this book everywhere I swear! I'm still not sure if I want to read it or not, I keep seeing mixed reviews.

  6. Kindlemom Says:

    It's sad that this didn't quite work like it should have. It sounds like it really could have packed a punch emotional if it had. Great honest review!

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