Title: Loud Awake and Lost
Author: Adele Griffin
Release Date: 11/12/2013
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Mystery
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Description: LOUD. There was an accident. Ember knows at least that much. She was driving. The car was totaled. She suffered back injuries and brain trauma. But she is alive. That’s the only thing left she can cling to. AWAKE. Eight months later, Ember feels broken. The pieces of her former self no longer fit together. She can’t even remember the six weeks of her life leading up to the accident. Where was she going? Who was she with? And what happened during those six weeks that her friends and family won’t talk about? LOST. One by one, Ember discovers the answers to these questions, like a twisted game of dominos. And little by little, the person she used to be slips further and further away.
Thoughts: When I finished this book I immediately wanted to go back and read it again. I didn’t love the beginning, but I loved the middle and end so much; what did I miss at the beginning? Were there clues throughout the book that I missed that would have helped me figure out the big reveal at the end? But mostly I just didn’t want to step away from this story, which I enjoyed so much.
The beginning was hard for me. We meet Ember, who’s about to be released from the rehabilitation hospital she’s been living in since her terrible car accident eight months before. Although I wanted to like Ember, having been seriously injured and missing a six weeks of memories, she’s certainly a sympathetic character, the connection just wasn’t there. And I wanted to feel something towards Ember’s family and friends, but mostly I was annoyed and confused about why they were keeping her in the dark about her lost memories (a feeling that never quite faded, but I got over the more involved I got in Ember and the story).
My biggest fear going into reading this book was that there would be something nefarious at play here. And, luckily, there just wasn’t. The accident and the aftermath are tragic, absolutely, but it’s a normal, heart-breaking, relatable type of tragedy rather than something completely out there. In the end I think that makes it even more terrible.
Once Ember is returned to her life she searches for clues of who she was before and how the accident came to happen. This is where I really grew to like Ember. I felt so terrible for her, and I really felt her struggle. I think the fact that I was in the same position as Ember, trying to figure out the six weeks she lost, made it even easier to connect to her. In Ember’s searching she meets Kai, a mysterious boy who seems to just immediately get her in a way that no one else does. Ember is frustrated by Kai’s busy schedule and lack of availability to her, but she keeps pursuing him even though her mysterious absences and changing personality upset her family and friends.
To me it was obvious while I was reading that Kai is somehow tied into Ember’s past, somewhere in the memories that she’s lost. As I got closer and closer to the end I still had no idea who Kai was, how the accident came to be, or how the story was going to end and I absolutely loved that. I’m oddly good at figuring out mysteries and twists in books and I think that often takes away my enjoyment, but that wasn’t the case here. I figured it out about a paragraph before it was revealed and I just burst into tears. It made so much sense, but it was also just so heartbreaking.
Another of my favorite things about this book was the way Brooklyn was portrayed. It drove me nuts that I couldn’t figure out where exactly Ember lived (I’m getting Fort Green?) and some of the subway things confused me (why was she getting on the L at DeKalb?), but otherwise I adored the Brooklyn depicted in this book. I could picture Holden’s house in Brooklyn Heights and the restaurant and park in Carroll Gardens. I’ve done a good job of not missing Brooklyn since I moved (and I was happy to move, I’d wanted to leave for a while), but this book left me physically in pain at how much I wanted those neighborhoods back in my every day life.
Bottom Line: Loud Awake and Lost is easily my favorite YA mystery of 2013. I’ve been searching for a smart, complex, and interesting mystery all year and I’m so happy I managed to find it before the end of the year. Even though I had a difficult time with Ember at first, I grew to really like her and just ache for her. I appreciated that as readers we’re in the same black memory space as Ember and I enjoyed every moment of figuring out what happened to her, even if it did make me shed quite a few tears in the end.