Title: Lost Stars
Author: Lisa Selin Davis
Overall rating: 4.5/5
Great for: Stargazers, science lovers, angsty teens, classic music fans
Themes: Losing a sibling, dysfunctional families, drug and alcohol abuse, learning to love, healing, astronomy/astrophysics
Review: When I started this book, in all honesty, I was a little put off at first. Another book about an 80’s teenager who thinks her parents are out to ruin her life? Maybe it’s because I’m out of my teens now, but I just couldn’t stand to read about that theme again. But I quickly found out, main character and high school junior Carrie (full name Caraway) actually has fair reason to think her parents are out to destroy her. Sort of.
After her older sister passes away in a tragic car accident, Carrie and her family’s life turns upside down. Her mother leaves on a sort of “retreat” for what’s only supposed to be a few weeks but turns into months, changing their family of 5 into a family of 3 in the course of a moment. Carrie relies on her older sister’s friends to take her in, who become a sort of temporary family—but also supply her with copious amounts of drugs and alcohol.
It turns out these friends don’t have their lives together as well as Carrie thinks. She envies their boyfriends, their futures (they’re heading off to college in the fall), and their absentee parents. Carrie’s father seems continuously mad at her for what are obviously bad decisions she makes—it’s easy to sympathize with him while reading, and to eventually also understand where Carrie’s frustration comes from—and her mother only sends letters from her retreat that Carrie refuses to read. Carrie’s friends’ parents are hardly around at all, something she mistakenly thinks is better than having a father that cares about your whereabouts and well-being.
When her father signs her up for a sort of summer job slash trade training program where she and a team learn to build a footbridge in the park, Carrie starts to transform. She meets people who have potentially worse lives than she does, who remind her to stop feeling sorry for herself. She also later meets the boy who moved in next door, who has a similarly troubled past and an obsession with music on par with her own, leading her to the first real relationship she’s ever had and always wanted.
Unlike other books where the teen hates his or her parents for no apparent reason, Carrie’s parents are indeed flawed, making it easier to empathize with her feelings. Through a beautiful connection with Vira’s comet, her story of loss and love in ‘Lost Stars’ comes full circle. The angsty teen that turned me off in the beginning learns to understand what she’s lost and appreciate what she still has.