As a young girl Kira was found alone and dying in the woods by Cady Bennett and was adopted into her family and brought into the family business of Search and Rescue. Living with Cady, her adoptive brother Jude, and a handful of search and rescue dogs Kira now in her late teens has adjusted to human society but still has moments of ferality. When a little girl goes missing in a National Park and Cady’s estranged father asks for her help, Cady brings Kira and Jude to help but the job causes Kira to start remembering things about her past. Have the Bennett’s been keeping secrets from Kira? And will that little girl ever be found?
This book was incredible. With its very long summary I really wasn’t sure what to expect of The Lovely and the Lost and worried most of the story had been explained on the inside cover but was surprised to find how detailed and intricate this book was. Also it has a lot of dogs in it, so if you like dogs then this book is already for you!
Barnes gives Kira such an amazing voice and writing such a complicated character can lead to some fears of oversimplifying or over-dramatic characters who suffer trauma, but Barnes made Kira feel real. I once did a project on feral children in university as well as looking at how some of the children managed to readjust to society with humans. While I’m in no way an expert on feral children and can’t even accurately say if Kira could fit under that label, her past trauma and adjustment to her present made Kira an incredibly interesting narrator. I thought it was realistic to show that even though Kira had successfully brought back into human society that the animal instincts and trauma she faced were still ingrained into her being. Trauma doesn’t go away, it’s something people learn to cope with and Kira has, but sometimes it resurfaces in triggers. Reading Kira’s trauma and her triggers felt so real, it’s the first time in a long time I’ve read a YA book that actually feels real and I am here for more real YA.
I did of course have some issues, most notable with Kira’s main support system Jude and Free. Jude was definitely an important character and I understood that but I couldn’t get over his dialogue in the book, it’s just not how teens talk. I cringed every time he spoke, and I’m glad he wasn’t the narrator. I have a bigger issue with Kira and Jude’s friend Free though because she literally adds nothing to the book. I understand why she’s there, she shows that Kira can interact with and have friends with people outside her family, but aside from being lucky, beautiful, and charming she really did nothing to change anything in the book. If Free wasn’t in this book nothing would be different.
The Lovely and the Lost is a fantastic and engaging story about love, family, and what people will do to protect their family. It’s a standout in the YA scene and I look forward to reading more from Barnes.
Publication: May 7th 2019
Pages: 328 pages
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
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.