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.
“They may be complete strangers, with different lives and different problems, but there in that examination room they are measuring sadness the same way.”
Freya has lost her way. She was supposed to be recording her debut album, supposed to be becoming famous, beloved by all, but she lost her voice and now she’s lost. Harun has lost his way too. He thought he had a wonderful life with his boyfriend, but when his family disproves…well, nothing is going as planned and now he’s lost. Nathaniel has lost his way too. With just one contact on his cell phone that always goes to voicemail and nobody to turn to, he’s lost. But when one fall brings the three of them together, they just might find what they need to find themselves.
This book is classified as Young Adult, but it didn’t really feel Young Adult to me? All the characters were fairly independent, and I’m not entirely sure how old they are, but I’m pretty sure it’s like 19+
Like all of Gail Forman’s books, this one really tugged on my heartstrings. I was really moved by the poignant stories of all the three main characters. We are thrown right into the story from the first page, the story of where they are today, and then as the book continues, we gradually get to learn about their backstories and how they got to be where they are at now, gradually get to see things go from great to…lost.
For the most part I really liked the way that this was told with the gradual backstories coming out. The entire “present” of the book, the plot, and everything that really happened all takes place on one moving, powerful day, and I thought that worked really beautifully. With the backstories, Forman was able to write it all on one day, but still show us what took place over a long time. I’m usually not a big fan of flashbacks, something that I wrote a full discussion post about on my blog, but in this case I thought they worked pretty well.
However, what I didn’t really like was the fact that the “present” part was told in third person present, and the flashbacks of what happened to get the characters there was told in first person. It was a bit jarring to me, and I think I would have preferred it personally if it had been consistent–either all in first person or all in third person.
There’s so much diversity in this book it’s just beautiful and makes my heart whole ❤ Freya’s father is Ethopian, and we get to see how proud she is of her heritage, how much she loves the food, the song, the culture, despite everything that’s happened to her to turn her off of it. Harum is gay, Muslim in post 9/11 America, and his boyfriend, James is (I think) black (definitely dark skinned!).
I thought that it was a bit weird that there were three main characters in this book, when romance was an important part of it. There’s the relationship between Freya and Nathaniel that starts blossoming, and I’m a little divided on it. On one hand, it’s super sweet, and fits in with the dreamy atmosphere that happens over the course of one day, and I loved them and how they could clearly help each other out when they had both lost their ways! On the other hand, since it developed over just one day, it felt a bit fast, like instalove to me.
It also seemed like Harum was a bit detached when it got to be all about Freya and Nathaniel. We also get to read about Harum’s relationship with his boyfriend James, which was, to me, much more interesting than Freya and Nathaniel. It’s revealed to us in flashbacks as the book progresses, and it’s moving since Harum’s family is anti gay. It’s also decisively not instalove.
Anyways, if you can’t already tell from reading this review, my thoughts are kind of all over the place and a mess about this book. It really resonated with me and made me emotional the way that Forman books always seem to be able to. But also I’m not really able to explain why I liked it? I don’t know. Just go read it.