Gayle Forman’s novels tend to be hit and miss with me, depending on the subject matter and emotional resonance. This novel had a lot of things that I liked and appreciated for what they offered, but ultimately, I wasn’t overly into “I Have Lost My Way”. I’m trying to sift through my thoughts so I’ll give myself a night to sleep on it, but it’s looking around 3 stars for an overall rating. I thought each of the characters had compelling circumstances and stories, but I don’t know if I was enthused about the way it was told.
I’m reviewing this novel so much later than originally planned, namely because I had a hard time deciding how I felt about it. I wanted to like “I Have Lost My Way” more than I did. The short of this plot line is that three random strangers end up “losing their way” in a random encounter that brings them together and has them forming a connection that’s supposed to be inseparable and more understanding than any of the previous relationships they’ve had to date within the span of 24 hours. A classically trained singer who’s lost her voice, a boy who grapples with a relationship he’s lost, and another boy who struggles after a loss in his family (but one could say he also lost something by getting head trauma over a weird accident that brings them together). The plot and overarching story ends up getting “lost” in a meandering mix of events. I’m not going to say it wasn’t worth the read, however. I took pieces from this novel for what they were – emotional character studies with people who had a lot of baggage to carry before their respective encounter (no matter how contrived it may have been).
Freya losing her voice and struggling to find it again feels palpable as she navigates being under the thumb of a overexpectant parent and grappling with the distance between her and her estranged sister because of fame and life events. Harun struggles as a gay Muslim teen who has lost his relationship with a boy because of an external struggle between his identity and the role he’s expected to play in his family’s eyes. And Nathaniel? A boy who grapples with a broken family and in the wake of a tragedy tries to find where “home” lies.
I think “I Have Lost My Way” could’ve worked if it had more focus and concise presentation, and if I could believe in the progression of events of the plot. I believed in the development of the characters, but the narrative didn’t bring them together well in the time spent with them, perhaps because of the leaping flashbacks and the attempt to bring them together in a deep connect over such a short period of time. I can’t say this was one of my favorite narratives from Forman, though I appreciated the character study and the diversity of perspectives.
Overall score: 2.5/5 stars.