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The Geography of Lost Things
by Jessica Brody
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I was seriously doubting my sanity when I picked this up from the library. I have VERY strong feelings on roadtrip YA, and how overdone it is, and I couldn't fathom why I would think that past-Ema-who-put-this-book-on-hold would want to read another roadtrip YA. BUT this was actually super lovely. A main character with trust issues that actually felt valid, an extremely cool fictionalised band, one missing parent that felt real (and one who didn't, these YA roadtrip novels need to really consider the parents), very many other things that made this well worth reading.
Find this review and others at Carlene Inspired.
The Geography of Lost Things is, as the title suggests, a story about loss, lost things, and a road trip that teaches its main character about forgiveness and love. After her father passes away it seems the hits just keep on coming for Ali, first with her mother giving in to the letters left on their door and then with her dad's baby, his true love, his car, ending up in her possession. Ali doesn't hang on to things though and the car is the first thing on her list to get rid of. While a road trip might sound fun for some, Ali is dreading this one, especially when her ex-boyfriend points out that she can't drive stick and that he'll need to accompany her. Nico sets out to prove to her that they can take worthless items and turn them into money by trading up, hoping to convince her that the car's monetary value is not as much as the memories and lessons it holds. What starts as a mission to unload an ugly reminder of her past turns into an insightful journey that teaches her about her father and the impact he'd made on her life despite not being around for much of it.
The Geography of Lost Things is much more than the Young Adult storyline the blurb makes us believe it is. Jessica Brody has created characters who have experienced the same love and loss and hard lessons that many of us have. It's relatable and yet the story is incredibly unique. Ali is mature beyond her years, accustomed now at eighteen to having the same responsibilities as an adult. She works, is well aware of the financial struggles her absentee father put her mother through, and holds onto only the things and people she needs. What she doesn't realize though is how much her father's constant coming and going changed her, leaving her unable to trust and unable to leave the comfort of home.
Ali is so strong and stubborn, I loved every single bit of her as the narrator of this story. Nico, her not so welcome companion, is equally as stubborn and in many ways even more well-versed on the adult world each was thrust into oo young. The car, the one thing he leaves to her in his passing, holds more memories than Ali would like to remember in it and it is the answer to rescuing her mom from financial ruin. The majority of the story takes place on the road, with the one night trip turning into something much more as Nico trades one item for another, detouring them from their final destination, a car dealership. As they trade up the items Ali begins to realize that this road trip, the items, they're all things that remind her of her father and as she fights the love and memories she has for him Nico encourages her along patiently, standing beside her as she mourns a man she didn't know as well as a child deserves.
I loved that Jessica Brody explored family, forgiveness, love, and loss in The Geography of Lost Things, those emotions play such a massive role in every youth's life and the way they go through them is pivotal in growing up. Ali's father, though absent, shows immense love for his daughter in other ways and it is the journey that reveals that love to her. It was a fantastic novel and I highly recommend it to Young Adult readers.
This novel is realistic fiction with a tiny slice of romance.
Ali and her ex-boyfriend go on a road trip together because she can’t drive a standard car, which means she needs him. Her father left her his prized possession--a 1968 Firebird convertible. She believes her father can finally be helpful because she can sell the car and have enough money to not be evicted. The buyer is 300 miles away. Ali tells Nico she needs money, which is why she’s selling the car. Nico suggests to Ali that they trade up to get the money she needs. He says every item has value to someone. He begins with a rubber band. A lady is taking photos and her hair keeps getting in her face. They trade her the rubber band for an ancient cell phone. With each new item, they place an ad on Craigslist for something to trade. With each trade, they end up further north, extending their trip and time together.
Each chapter begins with the time, their location, and what they have. Ali isn’t excited to be with Ninco and feels bitterness toward her father, but it’s on the trip that she meets people who knew her father, and she learns more about her assumptions concerning Nico. Nico’s situation is more of a mystery until the end, but he drops everything in his life to help Ali. As they journey, they learn about each other, their pasts, and truths about life.
I really enjoyed this novel. I thought Ali was realistic--most people in her shoes would feel bitter and angry. She doesn’t treat Nico great, but most girls don’t when they feel betrayed by an ex. She needs the trip to get away and learn that she doesn’t have all of the answers--that people aren’t so one-dimensional. There’s more to life and the people in her life than she knows. This trip allows her to believe that she can see where the road of life takes her.
In this romantic road trip story perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson, a teen girl discovers the value of ordinary objects while learning to forgive her absent father. A lot can happen on the road from lost to found... Ali Collins doesn't have room in her life for clutter or complications. So when her estranged father passes away and leaves her his only prized possession--a 1968 Firebird convertible--Ali knows she won't keep it. Not when it reminds her too much of all her father's unfulfilled promises. And especially not when a buyer three hundred miles up the Pacific coast is offering enough money for the car to save her childhood home from foreclosure. There's only one problem, though. Ali has no idea how to drive a stick shift. But her ex-boyfriend, Nico, does. The road trip gets off to a horrible start, filled with unexpected detours, roadblocks, and all the uncomfortable tension that comes with being trapped in a car with your ex. But when Nico starts collecting items from the quirky strangers they meet along the way, Ali starts to sense that these objects aren't random. Somehow they seem to be leading her to an unknown truth about her father. A truth that will finally prove to Ali that some things--even broken things--are worth saving.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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