Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Once Was Lost (review)
I have a weakness for books with intelligent discussions of religion, especially books like Once Was Lost with accurate portrayals of doubt. They speak to my life experience, especially since losing my grandfather 2 years ago. At times, faith is a struggle. Faith is a central theme without the book feeling overly religious or anti-religious.
As a pastor's kid, Sam's family is supposed to be perfect. Her father is the young hip pastor of the only growing church in her small town. Her mother is a functioning alcoholic, except she's not functioning very well anymore. When her mom crashes the car and is sent to rehab, that leaves Sam and her father. Only her father's so busy being a pastor he's not around very much to be a father. So most of the time it's just Sam.
When Jody Shaw, a young girl from Sam's youth group, goes missing the doubts that are piling up begin overwhelming Sam. She struggles with the big questions and since her father is so busy helping Jody's family and her mother's in rehab, Sam is left to deal with her faith on her own.
The way this story handles faith struggles is realistic and intelligent. Sam has doubts and questions but feels guilty for having doubts and questions. Because of her family, she doesn't really feel like she's allowed to ask those questions. It's very internalized. You can feel the aching loneliness of lost faith and longing for a miracle so vividly in this novel.
In this book lost does not have just one meaning. It's about a girl literally lost, missing presumed kidnapped that everybody's looking for. But it's mainly about Sam, lost without anyone noticing. It's also about her mother, lost in the alcohol and away at rehab. There are many kinds of "lost" in the world and the book does a good job exploring the theme.
I recommend this on audiobook. I'm normally wary of author-narrated books but Sara Zarr does an excellent job.