Sunday, December 11, 2016
Review: The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes
Title: The Distance Between Lost and Found
Author: Kathryn Holmes
Rating: 4 Stars
The Distance Between Lost and Found is very much a novel where we know, roughly, the structure of the story. Hallie has been mercilessly bullied and ignored by her peers for the last six months, ever since her ex-crush, Luke, spread nasty rumors--all lies--about her not only to the entire school but also to her church. When Hallie is finally allowed to return to a church retreat, she has no friends and keeps to herself, hoping to avoid Luke as much as possible. Rachel, someone who doesn't attend their high school but has joined the retreat, knows nothing of Hallie's past and tries to slowly befriend her. But when Hallie scares her off and the rest of the students at the congregation ignore her for even trying to speak to Hallie, Rachel decides to go home. Hallie, feeling guilty over her role in making Rachel want to leave, decides to follow her. And lastly, Jonah, Hallie's close friend pre-Luke follows them both as well. Before long, however, the three teens find themselves lost on Hannah Mountain with limited supplies and no cell phones. Can they find their way back before it's too late? Or is this just another trial that Hallie is going to endure post-Luke?
For such a simple story, I became very quickly invested in these characters. We don't find out what happened to Hallie until roughly the half-way point of the story, but that doesn't mean that I didn't feel for her at every step of the way. Hallie hasn't told the truth to nearly anyone and finds it easier, now, to simply stay silent rather than speak up. This journey--getting lost in the forest--is such a transformative experience for Hallie. Not only because it gives her friends, but because she realizes that she is capable of so much more than she thought. And if she can survive rainstorms and near-starvation then surely she can finally make her voice be heard and tell everyone the truth about Luke, the preacher's "perfect" son?
The secondary characters, though, are not to be outdone. Rachel is energetic and lively but she has her own baggage that she brings on this trip and Jonah, Luke's best friend, has been shunning Hallie for months when he finally discovers the truth and is desperate to atone for his past behavior. It's a complicated web of emotions that accompanies these three and I really enjoyed watching them maneuver their pasts alongside their present where they must work together to survive. Jonah and Hallie, especially, have so many pent-up feelings towards each other and their relationship made me want to smash a vase and smile beatifically; both. That's not to say that I didn't love the strong female friendship between Rachel and Hallie, but Jonah's relationship with Hallie is so complex and interconnected with so much else so I especially loved how Holmes wrote it; slowly and with such finesse.
I'm not someone who gravitates towards survival stories but I will say that this seemed believable to me, throughout, and I definitely found myself doubting whether these three would make it out okay. Holmes is a masterful weaver of prose and passion, combining the plot and emotional arcs of these three characters perfectly. I'm excited to pick up whatever she writes next and am hopeful that more will read this remarkable debut.