Review: The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes
Release date: February 17th, 2015
Length: 292 pages
Source: e-ARC via Edelweiss
Rating: Pleasantly surprised! Not feelsy, but I couldn't stop reading.
Ever since the night of the incident with Luke Willis, the preacher’s son, sophomore Hallelujah Calhoun has been silent. When the rumors swirled around school, she was silent. When her parents grounded her, she was silent. When her friends abandoned her … silent.
Now, six months later, on a youth group retreat in the Smoky Mountains, Hallie still can’t find a voice to answer the taunting. Shame and embarrassment haunt her, while Luke keeps coming up with new ways to humiliate her. Not even meeting Rachel, an outgoing newcomer who isn’t aware of her past, can pull Hallie out of her shell. Being on the defensive for so long has left her raw, and she doesn’t know who to trust.
On a group hike, the incessant bullying pushes Hallie to her limit. When Hallie, Rachel, and Hallie’s former friend Jonah get separated from the rest of the group, the situation quickly turns dire. Stranded in the wilderness, the three have no choice but to band together.
With past betrayals and harrowing obstacles in their way, Hallie fears they’ll never reach safety. Could speaking up about the night that changed everything close the distance between being lost and found? Or has she traveled too far to come back?
I have two disclosures to make upfront: one, this book is written in third person present, which normally doesn't really work for me; and two, this book is about three teenagers lost in the woods and forced to fend for themselves, which is my catnip. I have watched an indecent number of episodes of I Shouldn't Be Alive. I love stories like this and will read as many as I can find, even if they also deal with subjects that don't normally grab me, like--in the case of TDBLaF--faith and bullying.
So, with all those competing factors going in, how did I fare?
I liked it! I never got super feelsy into this book, but I thought the writing was lovely and the details of being lost in the woods positively harrowing. (God, I love that shit). While I didn't connect with Hallelujah (henceforth referred to as Hallie) on a very deep level, I thought Holmes did a lovely job of depicting her incredibly and crippling loneliness. While on a church youth group hike thingy, Hallie and two other kids get separated from the group and become totally, terrifyingly lost. It's my worst nightmare, basically.
Before that happens, she's miserable on the retreat. Hallie has a secret about the night that ruined her reputation and caused Luke, the preacher's son, to bully her for months and her to lose all of her friends. The book is almost obnoxiously coy about that secret, and while the reveal of what REALLY went down...isn't...my favorite (can't discuss because spoilers), I REALLY liked Hallie's emotional arc of dealing with the bullying. Of choosing not to be a victim anymore. Of opening up and not making everything so difficult for herself on top of everything else.
Plus, there's the woods stuff. I LOVE WOODS STUFF. I mean, in fiction and on TV. I've watched just enough episodes of I Shouldn't Be Alive to know I would NOT survive being lost in any kind of forest or tundra or open sea or outback or too-large parking lot for very long. But I love reading about people who do, especially when it involves a random group bonding over their experiences. Hallie is lost with Rachel, a girl she's only just met and whose friendship she harshly rejected, and Jonah, one of the friends she lost when Luke started tormenting her. Emotions are flying all over the place.
|Put me in nature and I legit become Meredith Blake I WOULDN'T LAST A DAY|
I loved the setting and the feel of the woods. I've never been to the Smokey Mountains, but I felt like I was there. I felt like I was getting drenched with rain as I read this book (in one sitting, might I add--it's a zippy read once the survivalist stuff gets going). My stomach rumbled as Hallie and co. divvied up granola bars and rationed fish. And then there was the shit with the bear which OMG NIGHTMARES.
There are several themes running through the book (not so subtly, but that's fine). Obviously, the concept of being lost, and alone, and what that truly means, but also in regards to faith. Again, full disclosure, I'm not a faithful person at all, so I don't have any personal connection to draw from reading about characters who question the nature of their faith. I mostly just shrug at this storyline. However, I think Holmes did it really well. Jonah, Rachel, and Hallie all have very different viewpoints on God, and no one is declared right or wrong. And they're in the kind of situation where faithful people would be compelled to look at the nature of their beliefs.This book kiiiiinda touches on the subject of slut-shaming, too, though I'm not as thrilled with the execution of that.
But again, I really quite enjoyed reading this, and I'll definitely check out Kathryn Holmes' future books. Plus, LOOK AT THAT COVER. Gorrrrrgeous.