This year I’ve been featuring one of my favorite books on the last Friday of every month, telling you why it’s one of my favorites. You can find the full list of my favorite books here. March’s featured book is The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes.
I’m a huge fan of Kathryn Holmes. Her second novel, How It Feels to Fly, solidified her spot on my favorite author list alongside Kiera Cass, Neal Shusterman, and Laurie Halse Anderson. When I first read Holmes’s debut novel, The Distance Between Lost and Found, it blew me away with how good it was.
This book is about a a young girl named Hallelujah who has been silent ever since the night of some incident with the preacher’s son, Luke. We don’t know what exactly this incident was, just that Hallelujah couldn’t get herself to tell anyone what really happened and that Luke has been making fun of her ever since. Hallelujah has lost all of her friends and the respect of her parents.
Six months later, Hallelujah is on a youth group retreat in the Smoky Mountains. Luke is still making fun of her and everyone is still ignoring her, except for new girl Rachel. But Hallelujah can’t let anyone in, and ends up pushing her away too.
But then Hallelujah, Rachel, and Hallelujah’s former friend Jonah get separated form the group and quickly end up lost in the mountains. Faced with many difficult obstacles, the three try to find safety and get back home. While looking for rescue, they question God and each other, and try to find a way to open up about what they’ve gone through.
This book is fast-paced and exciting. It takes place over only a week, but you finish the book feeling like you’ve known Hallelujah, Jonah, and Rachel forever. I love all of the survival elements. Being lost in the mountains is scary and dangerous, and it is really interesting watching these characters find ways to survive.
I love how this book weaves in the themes of silence and violence against women and finding ways to open up. We don’t know exactly what Luke did to Hallelujah at first, but we see how it affects her and we’re right alongside her, cheering her on and hoping she finds a way to open up and tell others what’s happened to her.
My favorite part about this book is how it also weaves in themes of faith and God’s role in their survival. Holmes does exactly what I hope to do in my writing—let God have a role but not make it a Christian fiction novel. With it being a youth group retreat, God naturally has a role in this book, and each day lost on the mountains brings Hallelujah and her friends either closer or farther from God. I will say that I don’t like the end of the book as much as I was hoping. I don’t want to give it away, but I will say that I was expecting Hallelujah to turn out a little differently after their journey.
The Distance Between Lost and Found will always be one of my favorite books. I chose to feature it this month for two reasons. The first is that I’ll be going on vacation to the Smoky Mountains for the first time in about a month. I’m so excited for my first trip to the mountains, though I don’t plan on hiking off on my own like Hallelujah and her friends. The second reason is because when I read this book for the first time two years ago, it made me want to turn my favorite short story I’ve ever written into a novel. I tried back then, but it didn’t work for a lot of reasons. Now I know how to do it right and I’ve returned to that story. I read this book this month to help me prepare for this novel. And it’s going to be an amazing writing journey.