Lost in the Sun
Lisa Graff appeared on our Newbery radar with the publication of A TANGLE OF KNOTS which was long listed for the National Book Award, then came another strong book with great reviews (ABSOLUTELY ALMOST), and now she delivers what is arguably her best novel to date, LOST IN THE SUN.
I am not the ideal reader for this book, yet because I listened to it on audiobook, the reader gradually drew me into this character-driven story with his spot-on depiction of Trent’s voice: a mixture of anger, resentment, neediness, and vulnerability. In fact, this one is clearly at the most distinguished level in this respect. All of the characters–and there are many of them–are distinct individuals; many of whom grow and change over the course of the story, none more so than Trent.
On a thematic level, this book is about trauma and resiliency, whether it’s the guilt that Trent has internalized for accidentally “killing” a boy, or the rage that he feels toward his father for the divorce, or his best friend, Fallon Little, who has her own story.
Note: Here’s a very interesting conversation between Roger Sutton and Lisa Graff that provides more insight on the book. I didn’t know, for example, that this was a companion book to UMBRELLA SUMMER, the author’s earlier book.
We’ve discussed several books so far that seem like strong contenders, but that also makes it really hard to compare them without feeling like your playing favorites. But it’s those second and third readings of a book that help you move past your “feelings” and determine which books elevate themselves to the next level. This is the kind of book–that because it is not my kind of book–really needs me to give it another reading to better appreciate its strengths independent of my reading tastes. Good stuff, here.
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About Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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