Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
Gayle Forman is a bestselling author of novels for both adults and young adults. I am only a relative newcomer to he work, and I haven’t seen the blockbuster movie adaptation of If I Stay. I have read Leave Me which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I Have Lost My Way is a powerful tale of loneliness, connection and finding the courage to be true to yourself. We meet three very different teens whose paths cross randomly in the park and we spend 256 pages getting to know their innermost selves. We still don’t know much about them on a superficial level but we know what makes them tick, we know what broke them and we’re learning how they’re going to put themselves back together.
Freya is a musician on the verge of celebrity, about to have her career take off. The problem is that she’s inexplicably lost her voice in the midst of recording her debut album. She’s seen doctors and specialists to be poked and prodded and tested but nothing seems to be the problem.
Harun is miserable because he’s lost the love of his life and isn’t sure how to fix things.
Nathaniel has lost everything, and his story is the one that takes the longest to unravel. He is a complex and intriguing character who had me wanting to get to know him better.
These three teens couldn’t be more different, but still they find themselves on common ground. Their meeting is unconventional to say the least, Freya accidentally falls over the side of a bridge and her fall is broken by Nathanial, Harun is a bystander who just happens to see the accident unfold.
Nathaniel is a little worse for wear and rather than allow him to wander off on his own, on his first day in the city, Freya and Harun decide to have him checked out by a doctor. The three meet at the perfect moment, when each of them is at their most vulnerable and in need of a connection to another person, a real connection, and for some reason they actually see one another.
A common refrain by many of us is that ‘it’s all good’ when everyone knows things are far from good but it’s the answer that says you are not obliged to do any more for me. Nathaniel spouts his common refrain but Freya and Harun hear past his words and stick around. Their connection is something tenuous, something they don’t understand but it’s a connection they have all been craving so they work at finding reasons to remain together.
All three said early in the story that they had lost their way, they weren’t sure how to find it again and they were struggling to find the strength. The three were all feeling totally isolated and alone but in a real sense it was only Nathaniel who had no-one, Freya and Harun were surrounded by people but feeling very alone and very isolated due to their circumstances.
I Have Lost My Way is a novel that plays out over one short day, and it gives us all we need for a complete and rounded story with complex and three dimensional characters that you don’t always get to know so well over weeks and months.
The story-telling tools employed are captivating, the perspective jumps mid-scene almost in the middle of chapters but it’s actually a smooth change and I found that I worked. Sometimes that kind of jumping around grates but I thought it worked here.
The troubles these three are facing don’t have easy answers and I don’t think they’re looking for easy answers but some connection and the feeling that someone’s on their side when they face their demons is important; it lends strength.
I want to say I loved everything about his book but that’s not altogether true, I wasn’t fond of the fact that it just seemed to stop quite abruptly and there is more that I would like to know, questions I would love to have answers for.
The stories are relatable and they are touching. They are issues many of us have faced, and many more will face. Forman shows us that we are not alone. She takes her characters to the very edge of their limits. This is a story of finding your tribe, even if it’s small; finding your personal truth and discovering the best way to be true to that and it’s a story of learning the hard lessons of love by sharing loss. It was a beautiful and touching story that I’m very glad I was able to read and I look forward to hearing what our readers had to say.