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1 girl….2 many books!

Review: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

on April 5, 2018

I Have Lost My Way
Gayle Forman
Simon & Schuster AUS
2018, 258p
Uncorrected proof copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

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.

Freya is a teenager who found fame singing with her sister on YouTube. Her mother studied trends – what got the latest hits, what posting times were the best and carefully carved out a successful schedule. All her hard work has paid off and the sisters drew the interest of a professional, someone who is going to take Freya to megastar status. It’s what he does. Freya is laying down tracks for her first album when she suddenly loses her voice and the doctors have no answers.

Harun is from a Pakistani-American family with strict religious and cultural beliefs. He knows he doesn’t fit in and that if his family ever found out his secret he’d probably be disowned. His cousin thinks he has the perfect answer for Harun, something that will make his family proud of him. But Harun’s heart is broken and he can’t go through with the plan to become someone else.

And then there’s Nathaniel, who is experiencing New York for the first time. He’s travelling light and he doesn’t really know the city but Nathaniel is only here for one thing. He’s got the information he needs, that’s all that matters. Until his plans get derailed when he meets Freya and Harun in a freak moment that changes all three of their lives forever.

I really like Gayle Forman – If I Stay and Where She Went are two of my favourite books of all time, although not the sort I can re-read over and over. They just mess with my emotions too much! I also like Just One Day and Just One Year but not as much as her other two but she will always be an autoread for me because of those two novels I love so much.

I absolutely adored all the characters in this book – Freya is funny and feisty. She’s half Ethiopian and connected with her father as a young child, singing with him. She and her sister formed a duo for a while but now it’s Freya on her own and she’s estranged from her sister. I loved the devotion to her heritage and how Freya is connected to that side of herself and it’s important to her, even as it’s also a source of pain for her. She’s supposed to be recording a much anticipated debut album, having built herself a strong following on social media and YouTube but she’s frozen, having lost her voice. No one has any answers for her.

The diversity is strong is this novel, as not only is Freya half Ethiopian half Jewish but Harun comes from a Pakistani-American family. His family are close knit but traditional so Harun does not feel that he can truly confide in them and be his true self even though he wants to. He found happiness and then lost it and sees a future he cannot cope with stretched out in front of him. At one stage in the novel, the three of them end back at Harun’s for a big dinner and Freya connects with the food, as some of the spices and seasonings are similar to what she recognises in Ethiopian food. She doesn’t know how to make Ethiopian food herself but Harun’s mother offers to teach her how to make her food so that she can experience those familiar flavours and it’s such a lovely moment. Two people from different cultures connecting over shared aspects, even though they’ve only just met. And Harun’s mother offering to help her continue to experience that. And poor Nathaniel, not quite able to handle the heat in some of the spicier dishes, which was hilarious. And that’s how I’d be, or worse because I have the lowest tolerance for hot and spicy food in the history of the world.

Which brings me to Nathaniel actually, who my heart broke for repeatedly throughout this novel. The novel begins with the three teens meeting by accident in Central Park and then flashes back for each of them, showing the moments in their lives that led to them being in the Park at that particular time. With every flashback into Nathaniel’s life I felt for him more. His childhood is only touched on in brief moments but the way in which Gayle Forman paints these moments allows to read to imagine his years growing up themselves and it’s obvious just what a mental toll it has taken on Nathaniel and how he hasn’t really come to terms with what he’s had to deal with and the abandonment and also responsibility. He’s struggling and it’s up to two people that he just met today in order to shine a light.

Because this novel takes place over a day, which is something that Gayle Forman has done before, it’s possible it could feel rushed or unbelievable, that these three people would connect so strongly despite being so different. But it’s not the case. It works surprisingly well in this book. Freya, Harun and Nathaniel meet in such bizarre circumstances and all three of them are at a time in their lives where they’re struggling with something or other that they all seem to just connect and share things about themselves with these virtual strangers that they can’t seem to share with the others in their lives. Harun in particular. I was a bit skeptical when they first meet but their sticking together evolves so naturally that it just felt like something that should happen. They could’ve parted ways quite soon after meeting but one thing leads to another and soon they’re sharing meals, blowing up families, confiding secrets and trying to save each other from terrible fates. They care about each other and each other’s individual predicaments – Harun and Nathaniel want to help Freya find her freedom to sing again, Nathaniel and Freya want to help Harun be accepted and Harun and Freya want to help Nathaniel see that there’s more. It’s beautifully and believably written and I just wanted them all to be friends forever.


Book #59 of 2018

4 responses to “Review: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed it!, Great Review 😊😊

  2. Marg says:

    Sounds good. Those early books were so amazing that she is still on my radar!

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