How to be Lost :: 1/25

The novel How to be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward

This is a book review of the first of my 25 before 25 books.

Like I said in the book list post, I randomly picked up How to be Lost, by Amanda Eyre Ward, at a little used book shop in Brenham over Christmas break with my mom and sister. I started it a few days later and was fairly enthralled. Ward’s storytelling is intense and the characters feel raw. It’s a story of sisters, and those tales unfailingly seize my heart. Here’s an excerpt that struck me:

“I kept us safe. It was my job in our real lives and our dreams, and I took it seriously. I didn’t trust anyone, and I was always ready for something to go wrong. Sometimes I wonder who I would have been if I hadn’t had sisters. Maybe I would have been the good one. Maybe I would have been able to take a chance.

I do not know what my mother did that Saturday; when we came inside for dinner (we made peanut butter and bologna sandwiches for ourselves), she was still sitting at the kitchen table in her ridiculous tennis getup, looking out at nothing.

We did not feel sorry for them, my parents, wandering miserably through their grand house like ghosts. All we knew was that they were not like other parents, and we hated them for it. Other mothers spent afternoons making a cake with you, not sleeping or talking about their old boyfriends. Other fathers sat down to dinner, and played Zim Zam on Sunday afternoons instead of drinking in the den. When you are small, if you reach out, and nobody takes your hand, you stop reaching out, and reach inside, instead. That’s just the way it was. “

The narrative follows many different perspectives, and Ward precisely expresses each one – gently drawing out your empathy for each person knotted into this sad tale of slow, hard, possible redemption. This book made me think about childhood, parenting, the incomparable bonds of sisters, and the layers of memories that we file away moment by moment. As I said in the earlier post, the intense language is there in this novel, and it would probably be rated R if it was a movie. And also, I would go see it.

As far as the book list goes, I’ve now finished 2/25 – How to be Lost and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I’m still processing the later, but I will hopefully post about it soon.

Happy reading.

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