We Are Lost and Found

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Member Reviews

Giving this three stars because it was good, but nowhere near great. It also had a lot of issues, but it wasn’t bad. But mostly I want to say this is meant for teens (14-18yrs) & so what I didn’t “like” about is probably irrelevant.

PROs: this book is set in 1983 NYC, at the cusp of the AIDS crisis, from the perspective of a 17 year old gay boy. I was very hesitant when I started because I thought “is this Dunbar’s” story to tell? But after reading the book, reading the afterwords, and reading her acknowledgements, it’s clear that Dunbar did her research & did her best to faithfully tell A (as in one) story of this time period. So I think for teens who are looking to learn more about the lgbtq history this could be a decent introductory book. And I think Dunbar captured parts of being a teenager really well: those moments of bone-crushing loneliness & feeling so misunderstood; the abstract ness of the future; the invincibility of being young. 

CONs: the writing style did not work for me. There are no quotation marks, so sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between internal thoughts & dialogue. The plot also happens in little vignettes, which get annoying and choppy. And the characters felt more like sketches than people, especially James & Becky, the best friends.* For me, this read like an “issues” book. And while I’m glad that people are writing about queer teens & AIDS, I don’t think you have to sacrifice good plot & writing for it. 

But like I said — I think this will work well for teens.
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I got an ARC of this book.

I have been looking forward to this book for weeks. This sounded like the exact sort of book for me. Intense emotions should be everywhere. 


I just don't get it.

What is the appeal of this book?

First, I didn't like the way it was written. There were not quotation marks so there were multiple times I couldn't tell who was saying what or when the speaker would switch. So It was hard to even get to know the characters. The story is ridiculously repetitive. This is one of those books that if a drinking game was invented for it, it would kill people. If I had to hear one more time that his mother was not facing reality I would scream. If I heard one more time that someone was scared, I would throw my kindle. Seriously. If you have to tell me every five seconds what the characters are doing or feeling, then you have not done your job of making me feel those emotions. I can tell the mother has checked out of reality, saying it a dozen times is just patronizing and/or bad writing. 

The actual story was also really shallow and I couldn't get invested. I didn't like or care about a single character. They were all flat. The older brother was the party gay. The best friend was the beauty queen that everyone wanted to me. The MC was misunderstood and hiding a secret. The female best friend's only real plot seemed to be what her boyfriend was doing. The dad was angry. The mom didn't face reality. Everyone was scared of AIDS. Boom, there you have it. The entire book in a nutshell. 

Sorry, I forgot tons of underage drinking. That of course is a standard in YA fiction at this point. 

I had to force myself to read and force myself to stay focused. This wasn't the book for me.
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Set in New York during 1983, We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar is a poignant young adult novel set against the backdrop of the beginning of the AIDS crisis.

  Sixteen year old Michael Bartolomeo is navigating his life with best friends James Barrows and Becky Kaplan.  He is gay but considering his parents kicked out his older brother Connor after he came out, Michael is struggling to remain in the closet. He escapes the pressures of his home life through music and evenings dancing at The Echo.  Michael is also quite close to James, who is making his mark in the theatre world and Becky who lives on tenterhooks due to her mother’s drug use. Michael’s budding romance with Gabriel takes place at the start of the  AIDS epidemic.  With little information available about how to protect himself against this frightening disease, will Michael be willing to jump into a relationship with Gabriel?

  Michael is an interesting narrator but the lack of quotation marks and the abrupt scene changes between the vignettes makes it difficult to connect to him and the unfolding story. The story does not really come together until well after the halfway point as Michael truly understands the realities of being gay during a deadly health epidemic. His brother Connor’s reckless and risky decisions also serve as a cautionary tale as Michael begins to fall in love with Gabriel.

  We Are Lost and Found is a thought-provoking young adult novel with an informative and interesting storyline. The plot is well-researched, quite informative and offers a realistic portrait of coming to age at such a fraught time period.  While the writing style might work not for everyone, this young adult novel by Helene Dunbar highlights a compelling and important part of LGBT history.
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When I was approved for this book from Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley, I had really great expectations about it: I’m always looking for a good young adult which develops deep, serious topics in a smart way, allowing me to widen my knowledge while following the story of interesting, relatable characters.
Furthermore, this book is set in the early 80s and I loved it too, since I’m a sucker for historical fiction.
Sadly, however, “We Are Lost And Found” didn’t live up to my expectations: I just couldn’t relate with any of the characters, they just didn’t stand out for me, there was nothing about them and the way their experiences, thoughts and emotions were expressed that made me think “This book has something special and it will stay with me long after I’ve read it”. 
And this was such a pity, because I need to “feel” the characters to be completely invested in their story.
The style isn’t a strong point of the book either; it was so generic, with short sentences that, instead of helping the pace of the narration, made it empty and undistinguished.
I’m sorry, but apparently this just wasn’t the right book for me. 
I’d still like to thank Sourcebooks Fire for their kindness and the commendable passion they put into their work -I really enjoyed their premise about books that can change a reader’s life- and NetGalley for providing me with this arc.
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I received this book as an arc in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published in September.
Probably, this book wasn't simply my cup of tea. I find that writing a young adult about diversities giving positive messages is by itself really laudable, so I think that some very young reader may appreciate this book. But having read many Y-A I am always looking for something original, well-written, whose plot and charachters can be enjoyable also for a more mature reader.
Unfortunately this novel seemed me very flat. The idea sounded promising: a coming of age set in the 80s with characters that are transformed by AIDS and that have to cope with their own desires and fears. But at the end the book does not communicate much.  The style is in my opinion the worst aspect of the book. These short sentences should likely sound authentic, but at the end they annoyed me. I guess that the author wanted us to feel close to Michael, James and Becky, but mixing descriptions, reflections and dialogues was a bit artificial. I think that the style really spoilt my reading, because I was so focused on it that I was unable to concentrate on everything else. I didn't find the plot really captivating, but probably  a teen ager would appreciate the figures and their feelings towards each other. I really think that the author will work better, because her intention were definitely good and I am sure that she will define her style in a more solid way.
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I should start by saying I'm fascinated by New York in the 80's and all things music.

This book reads like a excerpts from a diary.  It lacks clear markers for quotes and can skip a day or week from one paragraph to the next.  Some people on goodreads found that off putting but I rather enjoyed it.  It made the book more intimate. And I think that's what the book needs.  

This book isn't all rose petals and sunshine, but man is it beautiful and complete.   It does remind me what I image NYC in the 80's to have been like: destruction, danger, death but also, hope, energy and intimacy.  I think the author does a great job of exploring what life as a gay youth must have been like in the 80's.  Here you are awash in hormones and lust, but you are in a city being ravaged by death.  You were ignored and despised, but you were there vocal and making people see you. 

This book does have a cheesy-ish ending but I forgave it for the way the author talks about the freedom of coming into your own and being able to lose yourself completely on the dancefloor.
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First of all, thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for approving my request and sending me an eARC in exchange for a honest review.
You have to know English isn’t my first language, so feel free to correct me if I make some mistakes while writing this review.

Real rating: 3,5 stars.

This book reminded me of "Skyscraping" by Cordelia Jensen and "Two Boys Kissing" by David Levithan and its message is so important - I think the author did a wonderful job. She described New York in 1983 - its violence among the streets, the fear, the anxiety, the panic caused by the beginning of the AIDS crisis. That paralyzing fear of something still unknown, an illness causing death that nobody knew exactly how to prevent. 
How can you hope to love someone and be loved by them when this love - this desire to touch and being with someone - can kill you along the way? 

I loved the friendship between Michael, James and Becky - I especially cared about James, I seriously wanted to hug him. Michael is the main character, trying to understand who he is and navigating among the desire to come clean about his sexuality with his parents but afraid to be kicked out like his brother Connor. 
Enter Gabriel - a boy that seems to really like Michael. Is it safe to love him? 

I didn't mind the story being narrated through vignettes, moments of Michael's life often scattered without a tie with the previous moment like a diary. But the absence of quotation marks made it difficult to me to really connect with the characters because not always I was able to tell when someone (or who) was speaking or simply thinking something to themselves. 

Still, it's a great book with a great message - the two afterwords were really touching and they made me shed a tear or two.
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I enjoyed this book, but I found it somewhat difficult to follow. There is little narrative flow, which made it difficult to grasp the characters or plot.
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I received an eARC of We Are Lost and Found from Netgalley in exchange for a review, and must say I found it to be quite an engaging read!

We are Lost and Found, by Helene Dunbar, is set in 1983, at the dawn of the aids crisis.  The story is told from the eyes of a closeted high school student, Michael, who struggles with a desire to keep himself safe from this “mystery disease,” and a need to chase his chance at love.  Michael faces struggles that are seemingly universal for queer children even today, but must also worry about his and his friends’ health.  Michael, along with his best friends James and Becky, must decide if finding love is worth paying the price the world demands.

Author Helene Dunbar did a fantastic job of creating a historical fiction novel that focuses on a neglected period of history.  Particularly, her ability to show an epidemic through the eyes of someone who could be affected at any moment creates a compelling story.  

You can get your copy of We Are Lost and Found from Source Fire Books on September 3rd!

My Recommendation-
I would recommend this book to queer and non-queer folks alike, who have a desire to learn more about what living during the aids crisis was like.  Additionally, if you liked Like A Love Story, then this book is for you!
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Thanks Net Galley for the preview! 

Although I could not relate to these characters I felt like they were well developed and unique.  I appreciated the time specific references and the clothing descriptions were vivid.  However, I didn't find myself hooked into the story until more than half way through and felt like the emotional weight of the book was heavier toward the end.  I would have loved to see less paranoia and more about the characters educating themselves.  I was not a fan of Gabriel returning at the end and felt that Michael should have been more cautious and or asked questions before walking off happily into the sunset.
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This book took place at 80s where the issue of AIDS affects so many lives at this time. People are really scared to open up who they really are and it’s really scary way back 80s. I… I really don’t know what to say completely to this book, it’s okay for me. It’s not bad nor good, but I can see the author’s view of point for the characters and to the point where the author is I think knowledgeable to this kind of matter. LGBTQ in 80s are having a really hard time especially to their families and these characters are scared how they’ll open it up to family and friends. Michael, James and Betty – I love this trio, ugh! Super love them. I like how they blend in together as bestfriends. They’ve been really supportive to each other and they always understands each other in every different way. They’re perfectly written. 

There’s just a downfall while reading this book: one issue is there is no quotation marks. This is my first time to read a book without quotation marks and it’s harder for me to read. I really don’t know whose talking and which is dialog is that. It’s really confusing and I felt that I’m lacking of emotions while reading this book. 

Overall, it’s okay for me. The ending I think satisfied me and I’m so happy that the author wrote in a very detailed matter where the young readers will understand more about LGBTQ community.
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We Are Lost and Found has been presented as a sort of 1980s set, LGBT version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The latter book was a favorite of mine, as it was for many others, when I was in high school. It was relatable to me, as someone misfit and sad, to follow a character who seemed to get what it was like to be lonely, to have anxiety, but to be surrounded by amazing people. 

WALAF didn’t really achieve that for me. In fact, it read more like a fantasy than it did a realistic portrayal of youth. It wasn’t my or my friends’ experience dealing with our own families, sexualities, or friendships. It was kind of the story I would write after I was home alone and imagining what someone else, someone aspirational, might be doing. The characters’ thoughts, feelings, and choice didn’t ever feel realistic. 

I also kept grappling with how twee everything felt. Aside from the cutesy group of misfit friends, I was reminded a little of Ready Player One with the bombardment of '80s pop culture references seemingly put in for their own sake and not for the story’s. For these reasons, I was never really able to connect with the book.
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3 stars⭐

This book is about:

A sixteen-year old boy named Michael who is trying to deal with the fact that his older brother was kicked out of their house for coming out as he himself is also gay.

To pass the time, Michael hangs out at The Echo where he can forget about his problems and where he meets Gabriel who he can't seem to get off his mind.

Then, Michael is forced to decide what he's willing to risk to be himself.

Trigger warnings: queerphobia, talk of AIDS, mention of death of a loved one, being kicked out of one's home.


This novel touches on an important, but not often spoken about topic: AIDS and it realistically portrays what it was like leaving with the fear of it in the 1980s in NY as well as the struggles of living with a homophobic parent.

I liked the friendship between Michael, James and Becky, particularly how much they supported and cared for each other.

I also appreciate how kind Michael's brother is to him when he needs a place to stay.


I didn't like how it was written: there are no quotation marks and the story jumps from scene to scene without any notice (without a chapter change, for instance).

For that reason, I couldn't connect to the characters like I wanted to.

Final thoughts:

All in all, "We Are Lost and Found" was an enjoyable and very fast read for me. I can definitely see why it is compared to "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" as it also follows a trio of teens/young adults trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives.

Although I didn't love it, I can see why a lot of people would and I would recommend it if the synopsis sounds appealing to you.
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I loved this book. It claustrophobic, heady and intoxicating in all the best ways. The characters and their dilemmas were impressively constructed.
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This was a DNF.
I just could not get into the book and the writing just didn't work with me either.
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ARC provided by Netgalley for early, unbiased review. 

I dreaded picking up this book when reading before bed. I was anxious most of the time reading it. But, BUT I think this is the exact feeling the author is going for, and which is why I give it such a high rating despite seemingly harsh words. Let me explain. This book follows a sixteen year old gay boy in 1983 when the AIDs crisis is thoroughly underway but the cause and cure are both still unknown. We follow Michael through a couple months of his life and his relationships with his friends, family and potential love interests. These all seem pretty common factors of a YA novel, except there is a looming, lingering, mysterious threat of the AIDs epidemic always hovering in the background. 

As someone who only has limited knowledge of the AIDs crisis, this book was really informative (and horrifying). The sense of dread I felt while reading was only a fraction of the dread the characters, and real people living at this time would have felt. And while I found I didn't feel this book was five stars just because I personally found this feeling distracted from allowing myself to emotionally connect with the characters, I think it is still really well done and worth reading. Particularly if you like YA that deals with heavy topics. One thing I particularly liked is the writing style. It is written without quotation marks, and to me it just added to the feeling of being in Michael's head. The writing was at times beautifully poetic too, which fit for Michael as a musician so didn't come off as pretentious. 

I will end with one last comment that I think will be a deciding factor for people on the fence of reading this book which enraptures such a horrific time in human (and particularly LGBT+) history: this book isn't tragic. There are tragic events that happen, but the overall ending of the book is not a depressing wave of tragedy.

Content warnings: off-page death; homophobia; parental homophobia; off-page violence; discussions of unsafe sex.
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*4.5 stars* - I enjoyed this coming of age set in 1983 when the AIDs epidemic had the gay community scare of the unknown. We follow Michael with his two friends, James and Becky, who are truly there for each other when either needs advice. The author does a great job with the research that she truly did before attempting to recount the story of many of the people with whom she spoke with on this topic. In addition, she handled the politics surrounding this situation in 1983 very craftily.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are exclusively my own. 

Review will be up on my Booktube, Goodreads, Instagram & other retail sites (will update links accordingly) — August 20, 2019 

"Fall in love
Figure out who the hell I am
Have sex without catching something
Repair my family

These are the five things that our main character, Michael, has set out to accomplish. 

Michael is a closeted gay teen living in the early 1980s at the beginning of the AIDS crisis. His older brother, Connor, has already come out, and got kicked out of the house for his bravery. Michael is 16 and fearing of what his parents will do to him, if they find out about his sexuality. 

Thankfully he has the support, or at least love, from his two best friends, James and Becky. 

Things kick into high gear when Michael meets the mysterious, Gabriel, at a club he frequents, The Echo. Suddenly, everything seems within reach.

But slowly, the doubts and the fears creep in, and suddenly Michael isn't so sure anymore. There is so much unknown. So many things that could go wrong. 

And it’s this beautiful story of realization and coming into one’s identity, that slow enamored my heart. 

I think the story itself was poignant and I truly felt for Michael’s struggles. However, the writing is where the author lost me. 

There is no quotation marks anywhere in the book, which I found confusing. For the most part I think I did okay following the dialogue, but there were definitely parts where I had to go back and reread because I hadn’t realized it was spoken speech. Is it internal thought? Is he talking to James? Monologue to himself?? I was quite tricky at times for me. 

Also scene transition was very choppy/hazy. Suddenly it would just cut to a different scene without real transition. To me, it felt almost dreamlike? Where it just floats from one moment to another. 

Either way I think this is a touching story, and it felt incredibly realistic. As if taking a peek a teen’s diary from that time.
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DNF @ 47%

I put this book down a month ago and don't feel the urge to pick it up.

I'm not overly fond of the flowery stream of consciousness style of writing. It often forced me to reread passages to understand what was happening and I dont think I ever gained an attachment to the characters.
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I genuinely don't know how to keep a review short, so I will try my best and I'll also leave my blog post linked somewhere so that you can find more details about this book and my thoughts on it. 
First of all, thanks to Netgalley and SOURCEBOOKS Fire for sending me an E-ARC of this beautiful and touching novel in exchange of my honest review. I honestly didn't think I was going to like it this much, I wasn't even sure on which kind of story I was going to get into, but it turned out to be a very moving and informative book about important topics that today are taking for granted by way too many people. 
We're in America in 1980s and we're dealing with Michael and his group of friends, where James and Becky have a specific role, found their places, whilst Michael is still unsure and unable to figure out where he stands. Page after page we discover that his insecurities and doubts aren't linked exclusively to his place in the little group, but also in life in general; there's the thought of his brother Connor, being kicked out for showing his true self, that it's haunting him and the expectations his father has placed on him instead that make him doubt about what he really wants for himself in the near future. The Echo is the place Michael finds he can be free from what has been going wrong in his life and where he can be himself, and here he meets Gabriel, a guy who will make him question pretty much everything he was ready to believe him.
Together with his friends and Gabriel, Michael will have to face not only his feelings but also a threat that is hovering above the LGBTIQ+ community, and this brings the novel from a coming of age story to an upper level, in my opinion. 
Besides the fact that I found Helene's writing style stunning and very interesting, different from my usual choices, I thought that the awareness she's trying to raise through the story she tells and the message she wants to deliver are very powerful and much needed in today's society. More than a simple growing up kind of tale, Helene talks a lot about responsibilities and safety when in a relationship that lately are topics much avoided or taken for granted by most of our young generations. I found it enchanting, very deep and informative about topics we don't talk enough about. I loved the sections at the end, where she tells a bit about these personalities that fought for LGBTIQ+ community members rights and set some basics to start the researches regarding HIV virus and AIDS. 
What I loved the most, though, was the friendship bond and how strong it was throughout all the novel.I loved the way characters were realistic and full of flaws, not only virtues. I found each of them relatable on a personal level, I saw myself in bits and pieces of every single one of them and I learned a lot through their experiences. 
It was a book that made me think and raised questions and will to learn more, to get to know what might scare me so that I can act if I'll ever have to face something that makes me unsure or doubtful. It gave me hope, it made me understand that it's okay to now know and to be afraid, but this won't ever mean that if I'm lost I can't be found or find my way back to a safe place, and I think that this message is never too old to be passed to young people, above all if they can relate to Michael and his friends. 
So yeah, 5/5 stars for me are well deserved. This books should be picked up by everyone who needs to find their strength and their own personal fate, and I will never get tired of recommending it. 
I can't wait to get my own copy on the 3rd of September, when it will finally be published!
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