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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that I Have Lost My Way is the latest realistic contemporary novel from best-selling YA author Gayle Forman. It takes place all in one momentous day in New York City, after three older teens dealing with profound heartache and loss end up accidentally meeting in Central Park. The book follows the three strangers -- social media singing sensation Freya, who has lost her voice; beautiful but shy Nathaniel, who has survived neglect and abandonment; and heartbroken Harun, a Pakistani American Muslim who's ashamed of being gay and has broken up with his boyfriend/first love. There is some typical strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," etc., and a few references to sexual experiences (first times and beyond) and attraction/arousal. The violence includes an accidental fall that concusses a main character, as well as recollections of how a character was permanently injured. There are potentially disturbing memories of loved ones dying, and there's discussion of suicidal thoughts and mental illness. Parents and teens who read the book together will have lots to discuss about family relationships, sexual orientation, mental health, and more.
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What's the story?
Gayle Forman's I HAVE LOST MY WAY takes place in one momentous day in New York City, when three older teens struggling with personal crises crash into one another in Central Park and go from strangers to fast friends. Freya, a half-Ethiopian, half-Jewish singer made famous through social media, has inexplicably lost her voice just as she was recording her first album with a big-name music producer who wants to turn her into the next Adele. Nathaniel, a ridiculously handsome but incredibly shy tourist with nothing but a backpack and 100 bucks on him, seems to be looking for his lost father. Harun, a Muslim Pakistani American college student and a fan of Freya's, has recently broken up with his first love, James, because he's worried about coming out to his family and community. When Harun witnesses Freya falling off a pedestrian bridge and onto an unsuspecting Nathaniel, who momentarily blacks out, the three strangers end up changing one another's lives.
Is it any good?
This is a complex, beautiful story about three teens who meet and end up transforming one another's lives one fateful day in New York City. It's difficult to write effective narratives that take place all in one day or night, but author Gayle Forman already accomplished that in the first part of Just One Day. In I Have Lost My Way, she expands on the idea of intense relationship-building, life-changing days with this unforgettable chronicle of how Freya, Harun, and Nathaniel, all of whom are bearing considerable burdens, crash into one another and go from total strangers to friends who share the deepest of secrets. Despite their different backgrounds, racial/ethnic identities, and circumstances, the three teens each have serious father issues: Freya's dad moved back to Ethiopia and abandoned the family; Harun's is loving, but he's a devout Muslim who wouldn't understand his son's sexual orientation; and Nathaniel's brought him up more as his best friend than as a son.
Forman handles the diversity with thoughtfulness and a sense of well-researched authenticity (the author is a Jewish New Yorker and has an adopted Ethiopian daughter). The representation in I Have Lost My Way goes way beyond just mentioning a last name or an ethnicity/faith. These three characters are all well-rounded, and their family experiences are thoroughly explored. Thank goodness for the humor, like the fun park softball sequence, to break up the more serious and downright heartbreaking moments. The attraction and developing romance between Freya and Nathaniel is fast without devolving into stereotypical "instant love." Although this book is a standalone, readers will finish the final scene hoping for more from these characters who've burrowed their way into hearts and minds.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about realistic contemporary novels like I Have Lost My Way that are popular with teens. Why are they so popular?
Who are the role models in the book? What character strengths do they exemplify?
Discuss the different kinds of diversity depicted in the book. Why is there a push for more representations of diversity in children's literature?
- Author: Gayle Forman
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: April 1, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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