{Review} LOST GIRLS by Merrie Destefano

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

Lost Girls
  REMEMBER last night perfectly.

I know what we ate for dinner. I know my little brother didn't do his homework. I know Dad drove me to my ballet lessons, then waited for me in the Starbucks across the street.

I know that, later in the evening, I fell asleep when I was supposed to be studying geometry, my earbuds in while I listened to Taylor Swift's latest album.

That was my yesterday.

The problem is, everyone, from my parents to my teachers to the police, says that stuff didn't happen yesterday.

It happened last year.

(Page 8, e-ARC edition)

     “But this was nothing like The Hobbit—it was more like The Bourne Identity, and I didn't want to be Jason Bourne, some guy with a secret past who suddenly knew how to kill people. I just wanted to be myself, the old me, the girl whose worst secrets were the fact that she might flunk geometry and that she probably wouldn't get the lead role in the upcoming ballet production."


I was instantly drawn in the second I read the summery for LOST GIRLS by Merri Destefano. Rachel, a once typical teenager, remembers going to sleep studying for geometry and listening to Taylor Swift. When she comes to, she's alone in a ditch, bruised and confused and having lost an entire YEAR of her life even though she's only been missing for two weeks. The world has moved and shifted and Rachel doesn't recognize her family, her friends, or herself, which only adds to the immediate sympathy you feel for her character. It's this fact that really pulls you in, that this is more than a story about a girl trying to get over the trauma of being kidnapped. It's a mystery, it's a girl who has lost a year of her life and starts to realize that she needs to uncover the missing pieces, not just for herself but because her experience is bigger than her. 

Because she is not the only girl that has gone missing.

I would say that LOST GIRLS is a very character-driven story. We see the story through Rachel's eyes, and Destefano has us lurching into the plot with her, confused on the side of the road. The massive loss of time sits in your gut and makes you horrified for the character's experience; It makes you imagine what you yourself would do if you came home and you didn't recognize your own room, the clothes in your closet, the friends you supposedly sat with at lunch every school day. Consciously Rachel feels connected to the "old" her; pink wearing ballet dancer, and she starts out only wanting to go back to that and forget that anything bad happened to her. The tension builds when she realizes that isn't going to be an option. Even though she doesn't consciously remember her old life, the imprint of it is still on her, in her gut reactions and an emboldened line of thinking that disturbs and fascinates her. There is something seductive in her she doesn't remember becoming; a girl who is edgy and fierce, a leader. A girl who has apparently earned the affection of a very attractive boy with an equal edge to himself. It's the push and pull that Rachel feels which really brings her to life as a character, and there is so much character growth to fawn over. Especially when it becomes clear that this dark and seductive world is bigger than her and Rachel becomes determined not only to regain her stolen year, but to protect those around her as well. In the course of the book she becomes more than a teenage girl, she's a raw and reluctant hero, deeply human and incredibly inspiring all at once. Destefano's narration is rife with grief, confusion, desperation, and that situational sort of morbid comedy that always makes me want to laugh and cry all at once.

LOST GIRLS isn't just about a girl who suddenly finds out she can do badass roundhouse kicks, though. Underneath the action is a very real theme of family and friendship. Rachel discovers that her badass new self left behind a dear old friend, and when they reconnect, it helps stabilize her emotional state. At the same time she's got new friends that matter too, that she feels a very real connection too even with her memories in pieces, which is a beautiful reminder of the fact that as we all grow and shift we can find ways to let new people touch our hearts while taking our old companions with us. Everything fierce in Rachel, we learn, is derived from a desire to look out for those around her, and it's clear she got that from her family. Rachel isn't just a girl; she's a daughter, a sister, and those relations are what she can cling to while she's trying to sort out her identies, they are the thing that stays the same. She loves her younger brother Kyle, her mother, her retired Navy Seal father who seems to understand the edge to her new personality in a way no one else does. These relationships are paramount to Rachel's character development and they really cinch together the whole plot.

This book is a perfect combination of physical uppercuts that get the adrenaline pumping, and poignant bittersweet roundhouse kicks to the soul. Its Fight Club vibe is served up with a side of dark humor, raw emotion, and a main character whose skin you want to curl up in as she pieces together her missing year with defiance and fear.



You can snag your copy of this fabulous book right now! If you like your edgy contemporary fiction to be a little bit funny, a little bit sad, filled with temptation and confusion and mystery, then LOST GIRLS is for you.


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 (Kissing, references to sexual subject matter, references to non  consensual sex)
Language: PG13 ( There is some cursing, though it's not excessive, and the moments where it occurs feel fitting for the situations and characters involved.)
Violence: PG13 (Steady theme of physical violence that do get graphic at times)
Other:  Depections of and references to drug use.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This cover is gorgeous, and only gains traction the longer you look at it. The blue tinged outline of a girl huddled and clutching herself is vulnerable and haunting. When you look closer, you realize there's a watery effect inside of her frame, and a shadowed hand seemingly reaching out, which represents both the way Rachel is fighting not to drown beneath the waves of her trauma, and the way the old version of herself is fighting against the new her that she doesn't remember creating. It's not too much, not overly complex, and it's a raw representation of the story within.
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Merrie Destefano
Release Date: January 3rd, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Received: For Review

Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.

She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: she’s popular. She wears nothing but black.

Black to cover the blood.

And she can fight.

Tell no one.

She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.

But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad, sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves—the rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed… The only rule is: There are no rules.