Reviewed by Ivy R.
THE ART OF LOSING
By Lizzy Mason
336 pages. Soho Teen.
If you’re browsing the shelves of your favourite bookstore and found a copy of Lizzy Mason’s The Art of Losing sitting on it, it’s not that hard to be captivated by its cover. It’s bright and colorful, and perhaps a contrast to what’s to come when you flip the book and read its synopsis. That itself is a handful — the main character Harley discovered that her boyfriend Mike is cheating on her with her younger sister the same night the two got into an accident. Her ex-boyfriend was drunk driving, and now her sister is in a coma because of it.
The story opened straight into the hospital waiting room where Harley sat and dreaded the news with her parents. A great start, as it already welcomes its readers into the very crisis of it: Harley’s guilt and how it carried her through the story.
Guilt in itself is a very tricky emotion, proven to be hard to deal with by most, Harley included. She spent the first half of the book keeping the discovery of her ex-boyfriend and her sister’s betrayal a secret from the people around her (her best friend excluded), considering that her sister was still in danger of not being able to wake up. It was understandable, and honestly, a decision that made Harley a little bit more three-dimensional. You knew that she was protecting her sister, despite being mad about what had happened — and man, was she mad in this book. There are scenes and tiny bits where you could see it slip, and as a reader, you might find it frustrating how she couldn’t just let herself explore that further, to better deal with her issues.
With all of these happening, she also had to deal with her ex-boyfriend — who survived the accident with barely a broken bone — who was then sent to rehab. There are flashbacks inserted in between the chapters to provide the readers that Harley already had an inkling that he had an addiction to alcohol, but didn’t do enough to confront him about it. Again, guilt, but it was mostly marred with her anger for what he’s done to her, and her sister.
The book is already carrying so much weight by daring to tackle all of this that you’d think, hey, Harley could use a break. She didn’t get so much of that, but instead got her next door neighbour, Raf, who is also, surprise, a recovering addict. Raf is a far more interesting character, definitely a good contrast to Harley’s ex-boyfriend, but he mostly (and almost unfairly) carried the task of making Harley realize that being in recovery is no walk in the park. That made his role in the story essential, but I do wish that the romance between the two was held off, just because he already had so much on his plate.
A rekindling of friendship with the potential of being something more would have worked better than to have it full on, as I felt that the romance took the attention away from what should have been dealt with in the first place: Harley’s feelings and resolution towards her sister, and her ex-boyfriend, Mike.
With that said, despite the drama that it came with, The Art of Losing, is an easy read. I found myself breezing through it, and it had that certain voice that is perfect for young adult fiction. And while I may have had issues with how that story chose to deal with its issues, it is a great jump off point to open a much more in-depth conversation about addiction and recovery.
The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason is available at Fully Booked branches and Fully Booked Online.
Ivy Rodriguez likes to read Young Adult and Contemporary Romance novels. She works for the music industry by day and spends most of her nights with fictional friends.
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not expressly reflect the views of Fully Booked. That said, we love our authors anyway.]