Saturday, January 3, 2015

Tea Time: The Distance Between Lost and Found

ARC Review

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

The Distance Between Lost and Found, Kathryn Holmes

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? (source:goodreads)

Narrative-This book is told from the third person POV of the main character, Hallelujah "Hallie" Calhoun; get this: it's also told in the present tense. Now, while there's plenty of books told in the present tense, it's not too often to see (in my opinion), particularly in the third-person. This made the narrative stand out to me straight away; I paid extremely close attention to it throughout the novel, and while it threw me off at first I eventually got very used to it.

In fact, it sounded perfect for the novel. Since the novel's being told in Hallie's perspective, I appreciated the way the narrative mirrored the way I expected Hallie's thoughts to come: quick and succinct, and not too much description except when something really stood out to her. The style of this narrative was one without flowery language: instead, there was simply Hallie and her story, and I think it was actually quite a wonderful read in this way.

Plot-The most nagging question when reading this novel is: what happened with the preacher's son? What happened to turn everybody (and I mean everybody; including Hallie's parents) against this girl and turn her silent?

I'm not answering that question for you, but I will say: it's not quite what you're probably thinking, but it's not anything else.

This entire book revolves around Hallie, new-girl Rachel, and Hallie's old friend and crush Jonah getting lost in the woods. My biggest curiosity while reading (besides the preacher's son-incident) was how Holmes would be able to stretch this kind of plot through five-six days (novel time), and she really delivered. There's the kind of life-threatening things you might expect (the threat of starvation, bears, the cold, the constant rain), but there's also a lot of internalized conflicts that get sorted through; I kept thinking about Mindy McGinnis' A HANDFUL OF DUST as I read; yes, McGinnis' book is a post-apocalyptic while Holmes' is contemporary, but there was the common theme of using this journey of survival to find out who you truly are, and it was quite the journey, both on Hallie's end and on the end of Rachel and Jonah, who have their own ghosts to work through.

A quick note: there are references to religion. This whole thing starts because the teens are out on a retreat with their church, and while there were more than a few times I got extremely worried that there would be some kind of religious subtext, I was pleased to realize: there isn't. Instead, the focus is on the characters working through their own beliefs; as someone who has no religious affiliation, I really enjoyed this take on it on a analytic level: watching how this experience changes the views the characters have on multiple aspects of their life.

If I had to summarize, I'd definitely say that this is an eye-opening tale of survival.

Characters-The three characters most worth focusing on are, obviously, Hallie, Rachel, and Jonah.

Hallie is by far my favorite, because I feel she was the most fleshed out. This is a girl who's gone quiet: she's stopped defending herself against "the event," and she's let it take over her life. Something I really feel like is worth stressing: Hallie isn't a weak character, either. She did probably what numerous people would do (including me): when nobody will listen to her truth, she swallows it (because, really when not even your parents are on your side, what's the point?). She also shows remarkable resilience to meeting new people; it was refreshing to see this in a character with trust issues, the way she kept pushing away the people who wanted to be around her.

I liked Rachel. Not only so we share a name (ya'll thought my full name was Rae, didn't ya'll?), but she's nice. She makes an effort. She legitimately wants to make friends, so when Hallie pushes her away she goes and finds other friends. But then those "friends" turn out to be people she simply doesn't get along with, so she goes back to the original friend-attempt. She's human. She wants to be surrounded by people she appreciates, and who appreciate her back. I would have liked a little more dimension to her besides being defined by her family's dynamics (it's really the most information about her I got), but overall she was a total sweetheart and I wanted to be her friend.

Jonah. Poor Jonah. Really. I want to hate him, and I want Hallie to never forgive him, but at the same time: with the situation he was in after "the event," and the fact that Hallie never stood up for herself, there really wasn't any way for him to know what really happened. He was forced to react with only one side of the story as evidence, a situation that's really rough on anybody (especially after they learn the truth about "the event"). What interested me about Jonah was the fact that he kind of fills the role of the unintentional bad guy; which, thanks to the "unintentional" part, means that I can't hate him like I want to, because I feel a huge amount of sympathy for him.

You know that description really summarized each of these characters? They're human. So human. So sad. So great to spend a few hundred pages with.

To be perfectly honest, I had absolutely no clue what to expect going into this book. Every moment before Hallie got lost in the woods felt like the book could take any number of directions; heck, even after they got lost, I was constantly curious as to what could possibly happen next. Definitely worth staying up all night to read.

Final Answer: 4 / 5 stars

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An eye-opening survival tale. THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND @Kathryn_Holmes. Read the ARC review via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND @Kathryn_Holmes earns 4 / 5 stars from blogger @Rae_Slater. Read her ARC review (Click to Tweet)

@Kathryn_Holmes' characters epitomize what it means to be human. THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)

Special thanks to Kathryn Holmes, who sent me the Advanced Readers Copy after an incredibly lucky Twitter giveaway!

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