Everything We Lost by Valerie Geary
eBook review copy; 480 pages
Everything We Lost by Valerie Geary is a very highly recommended psychological thriller/coming-of-age family drama.
On December 5, 1999, sixteen-year-old Nolan Durant left his home in
Bishop, California, with a backpack and several hundred dollars in cash.
He never returned. Ten years later Lucy, his now twenty-four-year-old
younger sister, has been kicked out of her father's house. This, along
with an article her mother wrote, becomes the impetus she needs to
set off back to Bishop where she will try to reconcile with her
estranged mother, get answers, and confront her missing memories of
Nolan and that night.
Although she and Nolan were close as children, as a fourteen-year-old
Lucy became progressively distant and hostile toward Nolan. Nolan was
increasingly becoming more and more fixated with UFOs. He recorded his
obsession in his casebook, a composition book where he noted his UFO
sightings, strange happenings, and supporting information about the
events. As Nolan's paranoid delusions increased, so did Lucy's distance
Chapters alternate between the voices of Lucy today and Nolan in 1999.
In the present day, Lucy returns to Bishop, reflecting on the past while
trying to recover her missing memories and figure out what really
happened to Nolan. In 1999 Nolan is the narrator. His chapters open with
a section from his casebook notes and then tell his story from his
point-of-view. It becomes steadily obvious that Nolan is suffering from
an undiagnosed mental illness.
The writing is excellent. I was totally immersed in the story and
anxiously read to find out what would happen next in the present as well
as 1999. Both Lucy and Nolan are well-developed, believable characters.
Present day Lucy is stuck in a rut and needs to find some kind of
closure in order to move on with her life. Geary has accurately captured
the cruelties of peer pressure, being an outcast, and trying to fit
into high school cliques with Lucy and being an outsider and
increasingly different with Nolan. Their totally inadequate ineffectual
parents are equally well-developed. The way the three handle the
uncertainty of Nolan's fate is an insightful look into their
I was captivated by Everything We Lost and anxious to read what
happened next in both timelines. (I am actually surprised that more
ratings aren't glowing about this fine novel. I can concede that the
ending might disappoint some readers but I thought it was well done.
I'll be anxiously awaiting Geary's next novel.
My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.
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