Lost in the Sun

Lost in the SunWritten by Lisa Graff

Even though it was a freak accident, Trent is feeling guilty and haunted by the death of his friend. Struggling with his feelings, he keeps a notebook of drawings that he shares with no one, and he becomes quiet and withdrawn. When new girl, Fallen, a girl with a large scar on her face, shows up, she somehow latches on Trent until they become friends. Two misfits who need each other. Trent won’t show anyone his drawings, and Fallen won’t tell anyone the truth about her scar. This is a story of friendship, secrets, loss, and real, raw emotions. It is a book about reality and dealing with it.

It was frustrating that the adult characters didn’t recognize the pain and turmoil their son was experiencing. As well developed as the teen characters were, the adults were lacking. I just wanted them to do something to help their son.
The title refers to our inability to see things as they are because of the sun in our eyes, but if we move a little bit, then we can see things. Looking at things from a different perspective or angle brings things more into focus.

Review by Terrie Bishop, Academy Park Media Center
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars)
Interest Level: 4-9

It is the end of the summer before 5th grade, and Trent is in a deep, angry funk stemming from a freak accident in a pick-up hockey game that left a neighborhood kid dead. He has removed himself from everything and everyone he loves (his family members, his former best friend, sports of all sorts, including his favorite, baseball.) The only thing he has left is the drawings in his notebook, and he doesn’t want anybody to see them because they are disturbing. But one tenacious kid, a girl with a large scar on her face and a new story every day about how she obtained that scar, keeps bugging Trent to draw her some pictures, and she won’t leave him alone or let him disappear completely.

From my description above I know this sounds like it could be a really rough read. Make no mistakes, it has its emotional moments, but there is also much humor to enjoy in this book through Trent’s colorful, sarcastic narration, and many unique, likable characters and warm moments. The main thrust is Trent’s emotional journey as he attempts to disconnect from and then reconnect with family, friends, teachers, etc. I felt that the window into Trent’s convoluted feelings of anger, guilt, and depression was one of the best explorations of these types of feelings I have read in a middle grade novel, and perhaps in any novel. I really appreciate that the author/editor allowed Trent the authentic freedom to really come unhinged a few times and make some bad but understandable choices. I felt myself identifying with Trent, and also gaining increased empathy/understanding for people who act in anger, kids I knew when I was young who acted like Trent did. It was great insight into what can be going on inside someone mentally and emotionally that culminates in them acting out in mean or violent ways.

Spoiler alert: Trent’s attempts to control his anger and be a better friend/family member were kind of thrilling to read, and yet seemed almost too quick of a turnaround/maturity increase, since a lot of people spend their entire lives trying to work through these kinds of issues and are not often immediately successful. However, the story is much more rewarding and inspiring because of this positive modelling. It shows a way out, and I don’t know how I can really complain about that at all.

I definitely benefited from reading this book, and I think there are young readers who need a book like this. Careful, though: the kid you think might “need” this could swear and throw it back in your face if you offered it to them. But even kids who don’t have major anger issues could benefit from the empathy gained by reading this story, and it is perfect for any young readers who enjoy realistic character and relationship-based fiction. You could recommend it to readers who liked The Crossover, Wonder, or Jerry Spinelli’s books.

Review by Joshua Whiting, Media Specialist, Granite Educational Technology Dept.
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 5+

Author Website: http://www.lisagraff.com/

Lost in the Sun
Written by Lisa Graff
Philomel Books
289 pages
Release Date: May 26, 2015

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6 thoughts on “Lost in the Sun”

  1. Powerfully written and charged with emotion! I loved this book. I cannot stop thinking about it. This is one of the best books I read this summer. Thanks Josh for your amazing review that put this book in my hands!

  2. I’m planning on doing a library lesson on empahy later this year. I’ll have to keep this book in mind it sounds like.

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