ARC review: We Are Lost And Found by Helene Dunbar

Title: We Are Lost And Found

Author: Helene Dunbar

Publication Date: 03 September 2019

Genre: LGBT, YA, historical (fiction)

Source: ARC via Netgalley


A poignant, heartbreaking, and uplifting story in the tradition of The Perks of Being a Wallflower about three friends coming of age in the early 1980s as they struggle to forge their own paths in the face of fear of the unknown.

Michael is content to live in the shadow of his best friends, James, an enigmatic teen performance artist who everyone wants and no one can have and Becky, who calls things as she sees them, while doing all she can to protect those she loves. His brother, Connor, has already been kicked out of the house for being gay and laying low seems to be his only chance to avoid the same fate. 

To pass the time before graduation, Michael hangs out at The Echo where he can dance and forget about his father’s angry words, the pressures of school, and the looming threat of AIDS, a disease that everyone is talking about, but no one understands.

Then he meets Gabriel, a boy who actually sees him. A boy who, unlike seemingly everyone else in New York City, is interested in him and not James. And Michael has to decide what he’s willing to risk to be himself. (Goodreads)


My rating: 3.75 out of 5

To be honest, this book’s cover is what caught my eye and made me request it. And I’m so glad I did. I didn’t know just how important this book is. I almost feel wrong for not giving it a higher rating because I truly believe it’s very important but I have to consider the writing and the storyline as well as the subject matter.

Like I said, I believe this is a book everybody should read. What I liked about it the most and at the same time annoyed me the most was the way the story’s told. I love how this story gives an insight into what it was like during that time, something I feel like is not talked about enough. The entire time you could feel the fear of the characters. Even if the fear and the AIDS crisis weren’t always in the foreground of the story, it never disappeared. It was always there. In the background of Michael and the reader’s minds. And that’s what I imagine it was like being gay in NYC in the early 80s. So in this respect, Dunbar did an outstanding job, in my opinion.

I don’t know how to protect them. I don’t know how to protect myself. How do I live my life without becoming a statistic?

We Are Lost And Found by Helene Dunbar

What I didn’t like so much was the lack of quotation marks. I was never sure whether I was reading the character talking out loud, the thoughts inside his head, another character talking, or something else entirely. It takes some getting used to. At first it pulled me out of the story a few times but after a while, I didn’t mind it so much. Apart from this, I enjoyed Dunbar’s writing. Everything comes full circle.

Although there is somewhat a central storyline (with Michael, Becky and James), this could have been about any gay teenager in early 80s NYC. This might sound like an issue but it really isn’t. In fact, this was perfect for this subject matter. The characters are there to help you navigate through that time, the fear, the confusion, the anger. And yes, you feel for them. However, I think the important thing to take away from this book is what happened, not the characters. I’m having a hard time putting my thoughts into words here. You don’t read this book for the characters but for the story, if that makes sense. The story isn’t because of the characters but the characters are because of the story. They help you understand what it was like back then, as far as one can try to understand.

(..), their most revolutionary suggestion was that perhaps our best protection against this new disease might be love. That if we loved the people we were having sex with – even if it was only for a night or even an hour – we would not want to risk making them sick. It wasn’t just about protecting ourselves, it was about protecting one another.

Afterword One, We Are Lost And Found by Helene Dunbar

I feel like unless you read the book for yourself, I can’t really explain it better than this.

The synopsis compares We Are Lost and Found to The Perks of Being a Wallflower and I have to say it’s a pretty good comparison. If you liked that book, definitely read this.

I would like to add that the afterwords are also worth the read!

I read practically all of this book in one sitting. I really enjoyed it. I understand how it might not be for everybody but it’s a book I’m glad I took the time to read.

No surprise here, I recommend reading this book when it comes out.. tomorrow!

Are you planning on reading it, too? Have you read it? And do you agree/disagree? Are there any other books on this topic you can recommend?

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4 thoughts on “ARC review: We Are Lost And Found by Helene Dunbar

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