Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Teen/YA Review: The Beautiful Lost

Sometimes by the time I get around to listening to an audiobook, I've forgotten why I chose it and what it's about. So, I was pleasantly surprised to get partway into The Beautiful Lost by Luanne Rice and realize it involved a road trip! As much as I love any story with a roadtrip, this one has far more depth than just a romantic journey; this engaging YA novel also deals with some serious issues like depression, mental illness, and family trauma.

Maia has struggled with depression ever since her mother left. She even spent some time in a mental hospital when it got really bad, but she doesn't want to go back there, even though she can feel some of the effects of depression beginning to dig its claws into her again. Her father and stepmother, Astrid, are worried that she might harm herself, but Maia insists she is just missing her mother. When she decides to sneak away to drive to Canada and find her mother, someone else unexpectedly comes along. Billy is a boy from her class who she's got a secret crush on. He lives in the group home in town, and everyone knows that his father killed his mother and is in prison now. As Billy and Maia set off for the north, they barely know each other, but all those miles on the road together help them to get closer. They have a lot in common, beginning with absent mothers. Maia can still feel that inevitable slide toward depression beginning, but she feels certain she will be OK if she can just be with her mom again, listening to whale songs and looking at constellations.

Billy and Maia have a long, challenging trip from Connecticut to Canada, but along the way they get to know each other and better understand what each has been through. I enjoyed the mix of fun, romantic roadtrip chronicle with real-life issues. The story doesn't end when they reach their destination, and, as you might have expected, there are some surprises in store when Maia is finally reunited with her mom. Billy's and Maia's problems are complex and deep-seated, but by learning to trust each other, they both realize they don't have to face them alone. Because Maia's mom is a scientist, there is also a thread of the natural world throughout the story - especially the lives of whales - that enhances it. I'm glad I went along for the ride with Maia and Billy.

304 pages, Point Paperbacks
Scholastic Audio

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

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Listen to a sample of the audiobook.

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  1. This is not a book I ever would have chosen to read, but your review makes it sound so good.

    1. It was good - and nice to see these kinds of issues covered in a YA novel - the descriptions of depression were eye-opening.