The Lovely and the Lost
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, YA
Publication date: May 7th, 2019
Kira Bennett’s earliest memories are of living alone and wild in the woods. She has no idea how long she was on her own or what she had to do to survive, but she remembers the moment that Cady Bennett and one of her search-and-rescue dogs found her perfectly. Adopted into the Bennett family, Kira still struggles with human interaction years later, but she excels at the family business: search-and-rescue. Along with Cady’s son, Jude, and their neighbor, Free, Kira works alongside Cady to train the world’s most elite search-and-rescue dogs. Someday, all three teenagers hope to put their skills to use, finding the lost and bringing them home.
But when Cady’s estranged father, the enigmatic Bales Bennett, tracks his daughter down and asks for her help in locating a missing child—one of several visitors who has disappeared in the Sierra Glades National Park in the past twelve months—the teens find themselves on the frontlines sooner than they could have ever expected. As the search through 750,000 acres of unbridled wilderness intensifies, Kira becomes obsessed with finding the missing child. She knows all too well what it’s like to be lost in the wilderness, fighting for survival, alone.
But this case isn’t simple. There is more afoot than a single, missing girl, and Kira’s memories threaten to overwhelm her at every turn. As the danger mounts and long-held family secrets come to light, Kira is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her adopted family, her true nature, and her past.
-A copy was provided by Freeform for review-
I truly feel blessed anytime I finish a book by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Over the past year, she has quickly shot up to one of my favorite authors. Her talent for writing some of the best relationships to grace YA draws me in and I cannot help but finish any book I read by her with my mouth hanging open and desperate for a sequel. If flawed characters, found family, trauma handled well, the best of dogs and a bit of a mystery are your thing, The Lovely and the Lost is the book for you.
Kira does not trust many people except for her family. It took years after Cady rescued her for Kira to learn how to trust again and now she is following in Cady’s footsteps and training to become a search and rescue professional. When Cady’s father shows up out of the blue, asking them to join the search for a little lost girl, secrets start coming out. Things Cady has never disclosed about her past and Kira’s memories of a time before Cady & Jude & Free.
I genuinely love how this book dealt with Kira’s resurfacing memories and how much support she had from the people around her. Everyone in this book is so fiercely protective of each other. I love that it isn’t just a surface level bond. They fight, hurt each other sometimes but also know when they need to apologize and admit to their mistakes.
While there is a strong mystery element to this book, I felt like it took a backseat to the characters themselves. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because I honestly just loved the characters. Free, Jude and Kira all have such distinct personalities and when you throw in Gabriel into the mix … shenanigans ensue.
“I understand now,” Gabriel said thoughtfully. “The three of you share a single iota of common sense. I’m just a little unclear on which one of you had custody of it now.”
To be clear, even though I thought that the characters were at the forefront of this book rather than the plot, there was still an urgency running throughout the book because a child was missing and out alone. The child was never forgotten about. Rather, their search for the child eventually lead them to reflect inwards. They were also stepping back into Cady’s past so… yeah… secrets came out.
This book doesn’t really end on a cliffhanger but some information is divulged that makes me want to beg Disney to give us a sequel. I am not done with these characters and I don’t think JLB is done with these characters either so I really hope we get to see them again. OTHERWISE I’ll just have to reread my favorite scenes from now till the end of time.
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