Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Loud Awake and Lost

Loud Awake and Lost

Adele Griffin
For ages 13 and up
Random House, 2013   ISBN: 978-0385752725

On February 14th Ember was driving a car that crashed and she almost died. Many surgeries and months of rehabilitation later she is finally going home. On the one hand she is looking forward to being home, but on the other she is unsure that she is ready to join the real world again. She feels raw and fragile and is still dealing with post traumatic symptoms. It does not help that almost two months’ worth of memories, her memories of the weeks that preceded the accident, are gone. They may come back, or they may not.

   When she gets home and sees her room again Ember almost immediately realizes that she did things in the weeks before the accident that meant something to her. There is a poster on her wall that she doesn’t remember putting there, and she finds other things that indicate that her life had taken an important turn during those weeks. Ember also cannot help feeling that she has forgotten something else that is important.

   The next day, during her first day back at school, one of Ember’s friends mentions survivor’s guilt, which is when Ember realizes that someone was in the car with her with it crashed. Someone died when the car went off the bridge and into the freezing water of the river. How could she have forgotten such a thing, and who was the boy who was with her?

   Ember’s parents and her closest friends don’t seem to know anything about Anthony Travolo, the boy who was in the car on that fateful day. Apparently she was driving to her aunt’s house, but no one can tell her why Anthony was with her. Was she just giving him a lift? Did she know him?

   Using little clues and shreds of memory, Ember starts to piece together the life she had led in the weeks leading up the accident. She remembers breaking up with Holden, but then what? Slowly, painfully, she learns that she had disconnected from her old life and that her best friends and parents had not liked the new Ember. They had not likes the Ember who had stopped focusing so much on dance and who had set aside the dresses she had once worn, trading them in for black clothes and boots. They had no liked the Ember who had gone to new places and listened to new music. They had not liked the Ember who had broken away from them because she was looking for something else.

   Ember finds out that Anthony had been an artist, a really good one, and she connects him with a nightclub called Area-code. As she looks for information about her pre-accident self, she meets a boy called Kai, who captivates and mystifies her. Ember begins to realize that those missing weeks were important ones, and that it is vital that she remembers them even if the process is painful. Maybe if she remembers Anthony and what he meant to her, she will finally understand who she is now and why her life no longer seems to fit.

   Finding the right path in life if often difficult, especially if the people around you have decided on the path that they want you to follow. This is one of the many things that Ember learns as she begins to rediscover who she is and what she wants in life. With great skill and pathos the author takes us into Ember’s heart, showing us her fears, her confusion, and her courage.