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Essential Maps for the Lost Hardcover – April 5, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—The relationship between Mads and Billy, two teenagers thrown together by grisly fate and bound together over the course of the novel by love, echoes with a motif—a certain book beloved by them both: E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Having read the story of these two siblings who decide to hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art after closing time is not essential, but it is helpful to understanding the book's significance in their lives. Mads is a big reader; Billy has really only read this one book, which was special to his depressed mother, who left Billy reeling and living with his Gran after she jumped off a Seattle bridge. Mads struggles with depression herself even while she is living with her aunt and uncle to take an accelerated course to get her realtor's license. She feels trapped and locked into the future her mother has dictated. The teen is swimming in a lake one spring morning when the corpse of a jumper bumps her. Mads tows Anna Youngwolf Floyd to shore and becomes obsessed with her and the son she left behind. As she and the dog-saving, rescue shelter-working gamer Billy come to know each other, Mads can't tell him what brought her into his life. Caletti excels at focusing on the perspectives of both young people. Billy's overwhelming and moving love for Mads will pluck the heartstrings of many readers. VERDICT Recommend this tale of overcoming the ogres of depression and loss with the saving graces of sustaining relationships and self-discovery.—Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA
Caletti (The Last Forever) returns with a lovely testament to human resiliency and true love. Mads Murray is staying with her aunt and uncle in Seattle while she pursues her realtor’s license in order to work with her mother. It’s not what Mads wants, but guilt and loyalty to her mother have trapped her, causing a spiral into depression. While swimming in Lake Union one morning, she discovers a body. Mads becomes fixated on the dead woman, Anna Youngwolf Floyd,and her son, Billy, who is destroyed by grief and finds comfort in the dogs that he “liberates” from unfit owners, the no-kill shelter where he works, and a map from E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. When Mads and Billy meet, they are smitten, but Mads is terrified to reveal that she’s the one who found his mother. Billy and Mads’s romance is tender and sweet, and Caletti’s lyrical, sometimes witty narration pulls readers close to both teenagers’ tangled emotions in a complex exploration of grief, mental illness, the redemptive power of storytelling, and the hope found in unexpected places. Ages 14–up. (Publishers Weekly *STARRED REVIEW* January 11, 2016)
Two teens meet under unusual and sorrowful circumstances,and together they learn that life is full of both joy and despair. During a morning swim, 18-year-old Mads Murray discovers a woman's body floating in Seattle's Lake Union. When the local news reveals the woman's identity, Mads becomes obsessed with finding proof that Anna Youngwolf Floyd was more than a dead body, that she was a real person with connections to the world. Readers learn Anna's depression drove her to jump off the Aurora Bridge, but Mads, who is no stranger to depression, doesn't know that yet. Mads, in Seattle for the summer for an accelerated real estate course, is the only hope for the survival of her mentally ill mother's business, a fact that fills her with dread.Desperate to know why someone would end her own life, she finds a way to meet Anna's 19-year-old son, kindhearted dog-rescuer Billy, who's ignorant of his connection to Mads. The novel treats depression for what it is: a sometimes-debilitating illness one can't simply snap out of; it's neither a personality flaw nor a shortcoming. Third-person limited perspective alternates between Mads and Billy, resulting in loads of dramatic irony, and Mads and Billy's mutual love of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a sweet leitmotif. The gently chiding and honest narrative voice keeps its astute focus on the characters' emotions and does not plumb the heritage implied by Anna's name. A clear eyed story about love and loss, mental illness,and taking charge of one's own fate. (Kirkus Reviews **STARRED REVIEW** January 15, 2016)
Gr 9 Up–The relationship between Mads and Billy, two teenagers thrown together by grisly fate and bound together over the course of the novel by love, echoes with a motif—a certain book beloved by them both: E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Having read the story of these two siblings who decide to hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art after closing time is not essential,but it is helpful to understanding the book’s significance in their lives. Mads is a big reader; Billy has really only read this one book, which was special to his depressed mother, who left Billy reeling and living with his Gran after she jumped off a Seattle bridge. Mads struggles with depression herself even while she is living with her aunt and uncle to take an accelerated course to get her realtor’s license. She feels trapped and locked into the future her mother has dictated. The teen is swimming in a lake one spring morning when the corpse of a jumper bumps her. Mads tows Anna Youngwolf Floyd to shore and becomes obsessed with her and the son she left behind. As she and the dog-saving,rescue shelter–working gamer Billy come to know each other, Mads can’t tell him what brought her into his life. Caletti excels at focusing on the perspectives of both young people. Billy’s overwhelming and moving love for Mads will pluck the heartstrings of many readers. VERDICT Recommend this tale of overcoming the ogres of depression and loss with the saving graces of sustaining relationships and self-discovery. (School Library Journal *STARRED REVIEW* February 2016)
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Top Customer Reviews
Right from the start the reader is warned that the story between Madison Murray (Mads) and Billy Youngwolf Floyd will be horrible but also beautiful. Readers are told to hang on through the tough bits and wait for the good. Well, this is great advice. There are plenty of hard bits in this story. One minute everything is going along smoothly, sunshine and puppy dogs, kisses and smiles and then suddenly everything spirals downwards, only to jump back again. This certainly is a book that drags you right along through the characters' emotional turmoil.
Mads is up against a ticking clock. She has this one last summer before she must return home to her (slightly unstable) mother who needs her (and loves her), the (in-danger-of-crumbling) real-estate business she will share with her mother, and her endless future of house-showings and signed deals. She must pass her real-estate licensing course, forget about the college applications she never sent, and cope with the despair she feels over the looming deadline to her life. When Mads bumps into the body of Anna Youngwolf Floyd while swimming one morning, Mads' path is irrevocably altered. Her obsession with Anna, who she was and why she came to be in the lake, brings her into the orbit of Anna's son Billy. They connect through a series of unlikely yet not-coincidental meetings, but their story is not to be a smooth journey.
The story is written in an interesting style. The book opens with a section of second-person narration, where the reader is warned about the nature of Billy and Mads' story. This second-person narration reappears at intervals throughout the story, while the book continues to be told in a style which seems half exactly what the characters are thinking or feeling put into words and half a knowledgable narrator looking down and making comments and foretellings. There is just something about the narration, the tone of the story that drags you in, it is charming and just a little quirky. In a way it was hard to connect with the characters, as you aren't quite in the characters' heads and there is never any doubt that Billy, Mads and co. are just characters in a story. But there is something undeniably nice about being told a story.
I've heard depression called many things and described in many ways. The ogres. That's how Mads' feelings are described. The obese ogre of self-loathing who points and laughs. The ogre of despair who is large and loves to push and pull and stomp. In contrast, it is Billy's favourite video game, Night Worlds, that is used to convey his feelings, where it is a Gaze Attack that can so quickly create an Ability Drain or relief that offers a spell of Fast Healing. Essential Maps for the Lost is a love story, but it's also a warning to readers to beware the people and the voices inside yourself who tell you to give up or that there is no future. And it's the story of Mads and Billy who find their ability to hope and hold onto their dreams both inside each other and inside themselves.
I loved how Mads' situation is never compared to Billy's, it is never undermined or devalued. Yes, she has a mother who loves her! A business! An extended family who cares! She has a future! But her feelings of despair are real and true, and I loved that this book validates how she is feeling, regardless of how her life may compare to others'.
This is a charming story, childlike and yet it covers some very mature topics. It is simple, complicated and brilliant. A great mix of hopeful and somber, realistic with just that little touch of everyday magic you find in the most unlikely of places.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Since they didn’t feel like they could save themselves, they found ways to exert that control on other things in their lives. Billy saves dogs since he couldn’t save his mom (this was one of my favorite things about this book), and Mads tries to be the shield against a toxic home life for the little girl she babysits. In their own way, they are trying to help others the way they couldn’t help themselves, and it is so heartbreaking, at times. What struck me was how deeply both Billy and Mads were struggling with guilt, and their guilt basically came from their desire to live their own life. The source of the guilt was different, but their need to move toward something new almost crippled them. I think that’s what I loved about them as a couple. They were afraid of getting too attached to something that made them happy, yet they couldn’t help it. I loved that Essential Maps for the Lost showed two people falling in love as they were healing. The trauma and the grief didn’t end just because they found each other, they were still slowly pulling themselves out of the feelings and situations that seemed to be roadblocks, but it didn’t stop them from going after happiness. Essential Maps for the Lost was very emotional, but so satisfying as a story. It was sad and sweet and complicated, which is exactly what I look for in a YA contemporary. Deb Caletti is a great storyteller and this book was no exception in her wonderful scope of work.
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