A story of new beginnings, friendships, and unbelievable loss that triumphantly celebrates human’s ability to cope and start over again.
I Have Lost My Way
by Gayle Forman
I have not had any success with Ms. Forman’s recent releases lately. But I wasn’t ready to write her off yet. Admittedly, I was filled with dread upon seeing this book. For one, we all know Ms. Forman’s modus operandi. She either leaves her readers in tears, lost in the tumultuous emotions of her characters; or – she leaves them a frustrated mess of, ‘what the hell just happened?’.
Thankfully, I was left in neither state. Only mildly frustrated by the ending. In a true Gayle Forman fashion, she left me hanging on to the very last word and punctuation. Inertly dissatisfied with the ending. She has that ability to procure a connection between her readers and her characters, you see. You end up wanting to know what happens to them after the story ends. Especially since she’s so adept at writing vague, fade to black endings.
This is the story of three people from different walks of life; unconnected, and dealing with their own personal upheavals. First, we have Freya. A pop singer sensation on the verge of greater success but have recently lost the ability to sing. While she’s trying to figure out what will become of her once the world figures out she can no longer sing, Nathaniel was just getting off the bus to New York. A city that’s a jungle and so much more different than the quiet and solitude of the place he used to call home. Then there’s Harun who’s about to embark on a journey to find himself a wife in his homeland of Pakistan.
They are three people who are lost in their own ways, and who will help each other find their respective directions in life.
I enjoyed this book even if their stories are heart-rending in their own ways. Nathaniel, most especially, is one that broke my heart over and over again. He used to be a normal teen; floundering through high school but somewhat happy despite the strangeness of his upbringing. He had a strong relationship with his father who was suffering from a mental illness and bouts of depression. When his parents split up, he chose to stay with this dad and soon had become estranged from his mother. But then his grandmother died, then lost one eye. He lost the only thing that brought him joy in school (baseball). He since then stopped going because he had to take care of his dad. On a good day, his father will be coherent and well adjusted to the remoteness of the way they lived. On a bad day, he was sporadic. Nathaniel looked after him until he no longer could. I felt for this boy. He lost his way when he lost his father.
While it would be easy to dismiss Freya’s problems, it isn’t in a way. She’s lost her way since her father moved back to Ethiopia. Singing was her way of staying connected to him. But when she inexplicably lost her voice, her life was once again, on the verge of another upheaval. She has a difficult relationship with her mother, as well her sister. But she revels in her popularity in the social media. Losing her voice meant losing her adoring fans.
Harun is gay. But how does a staunch Muslim boy who believes in prayers and respecting the doctrine go on pretending that his heart does not belong to another man?
Gayle Forman perfectly knitted all three stories in a neat package. A common thread amongst the three is the question of how to proceed in life after going through cataclysmic awakenings. The characters were bestowed with distinct voices, and their friendship is at times, awkward but made all the more poignant by the way each was desperate to hold on to the other.