My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ever since the night of the incident with Luke Willis, the preacher’s son, sophomore Hallelujah Calhoun has been silent. When the rumors swirled around school, she was silent. When her parents grounded her, she was silent. When her friends abandoned her … silent.
Now, six months later, on a youth group retreat in the Smoky Mountains, Hallie still can’t find a voice to answer the taunting. Shame and embarrassment haunt her, while Luke keeps coming up with new ways to humiliate her. Not even meeting Rachel, an outgoing newcomer who isn’t aware of her past, can pull Hallie out of her shell. Being on the defensive for so long has left her raw, and she doesn’t know who to trust.
On a group hike, the incessant bullying pushes Hallie to her limit. When Hallie, Rachel, and Hallie’s former friend Jonah get separated from the rest of the group, the situation quickly turns dire. Stranded in the wilderness, the three have no choice but to band together.
With past betrayals and harrowing obstacles in their way, Hallie fears they’ll never reach safety. Could speaking up about the night that changed everything close the distance between being lost and found? Or has she traveled too far to come back?
The Distance between Lost and Found is a beautiful story of a lost girl trying to find a way back to her normal self. After an incident that trashes her reputation, Hallie has been the butt of jokes in her community. She is bullied and no one supports her, not even her parents. Her stubbornness against speaking out is partly the problem, that doesn’t get rectified until she goes on this hike. There, when she gets lost with an old friend and a new, she discovers that whatever semblance of bravery she thought she was showing by tolerating her bullies, is nothing compared to the strength she has within her. For about a week, the trio survive with barely any provisions, in the wilderness, each day hoping for rescue. All the time gives them ample of space to rethink, to rediscover themselves, and Hallie in particular finally speaks up and clears out the misunderstanding with her old friend.
For his part, I thought Jonah was a bit of a jerk to her and should not have been forgiven so easily. Actually, I would have loved Hallie to even call out everybody on their BS while she stands up for herself, for her to ask why would they even need her to speak up to ever believe in her. Nevertheless, the story intertwined survival, philosophy and a coming-of-age story into a fantastic tale. My only little problem is Hallie as a character – I felt she was too soft, and was kind of a doormat character until the her time to shine came. And I must say, for a story about church-going kids, it didn’t come across as preachy. So bonus points for that too.
Received a review copy from Harper Teen via Edelweiss.