Title: We Are Lost and Found
Author: Helene Dunbar
Publisher: Sourcefire Books
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Michael is content to live in the shadow of his best friends, James, an enigmatic teen performance artist who everyone wants and no one can have and Becky, who calls things as she sees them, while doing all she can to protect those she loves. His brother, Connor, has already been kicked out of the house for being gay and laying low seems to be his only chance to avoid the same fate. To pass the time before graduation, Michael hangs out at The Echo where he can dance and forget about his father’s angry words, the pressures of school, and the looming threat of AIDS, a disease that everyone is talking about, but no one understands. Then he meets Gabriel, a boy who actually sees him. A boy who, unlike seemingly everyone else in New York City, is interested in him and not James. And Michael has to decide what he’s willing to risk to be himself.
We Are Lost and Found is one of the most moving books I’ve read so far this year. Set in the 80s at a time when AIDS has first started appearing around New York, it is a story of confusion, hurt, loss, self-discovery, friendship, found family, and love. What I loved so much about this book is how honestly and profoundly it conveys the terror of the AIDS crisis, particularly during a time when very little is known about what this disease is, what it does, how it moves from person to person, and if there’s any cure. The characters face intense homophobia from their family members and often strangers as well. Times are changing, but many viewpoints and opinions are not changing with them.
Michael is an absolutely endearing character. He’s just a normal guy trying to understand who he is and who he wants to be. He’s living in an oppressive world and he is wracked with anxiety; however he’s got some close friends who provide enduring strength and support when he can’t find either anywhere else. He’s got a passion for music and he’s just trying to figure out what his life really means. His is a quintessential coming-of-age story as he begins the arduous process of self-discovery, made ten thousand times more difficult by the fact that he’s gay in the 80s.
Further to Michael, the secondary characters are so well defined and have incredible and well-thought-out stories of their own. The are so easy to conjure up in your mind as you read and they help connect the reader to the story through so many various avenues.
This is a gritty tale. It’s not pretty, but it is truly real and that is beautiful. It’s hard to forget sometimes that this isn’t a memoir, but an excellent work of fiction rooted in truth. This is a story that will stick with you. It’s so evocative and emotional. And at the same time, the writing is engaging and powers you through the pages, so you get completely absorbed. I was done this book before I even realized how fast I was moving through it. I’d highly recommend.