This one was a Hot Key bloggers list find, and it was a lyrical, sometimes moving story of a girl lost after the death of her sister. I didn’t really love it though, as it kind of felt like I had read it before.
I’ll be your mirror, reflect what you are, in case you don’t know…
In the aftermath of her older sister’s death, sixteen-year-old Carrie is taken under the wings of her sister’s friends, and finds herself forsaking the science nerds of her former life and slipping into a daze of cheap beer and recreational drugs. Carrie – a talented guitar player and obsessive tracker of the coming Vira comet – is partying hard and fooling around with boys she doesn’t even like, even though she’s desperate for a boyfriend.
Her mother, enveloped by grief at the loss of her eldest child, has retreated to a monastery in the Catskills that requires a vow of silence. With her family splintered apart, Carrie is overcome at times by uncontrollable rages and her father decides to send her to a boot camp for wayward teens. Compounding the shame, and to her horror, she is forced to wear work boots and a hard hat – boy poison.
Then she meets Dean, a fellow musician and refugee from his own dark past. Throughout the summer Carrie learns more about Dean, about her sister’s death, about her own family’s past, and about herself…as well as about the Bee Gees, disco and the difference between wood and sheet-rock screws. Through love, music and her precious comet – and no small help from Lou Reed – Carrie fumbles her way through the complex web of tragedies and misunderstandings, to the heart of who she is and who she wants to be.
(This is the song from which the lyrics at the top of the blurb are taken)
When I was reading Lost Stars, there was nothing I could really put my finger on that was wrong with it. I definitely think it’s the kind of book that someone would really love if they were in the right mood when they were reading it. There was a lot of great stuff about Carrie, her sister Ginny’s death, and how Carrie and their other sister Rosie, dealt with the aftermath, as well as the bounds of love and forgiveness after a trauma like their loss of Ginny. All of these things were really beautifully portrayed.
But for some reason, this book didn’t click with me. Perhaps I’ve read too many books about dead sisters (Love Letters to the Dead, The Sky is Everywhere, All The Bright Places, to name but three), but I didn’t connect with the characters or the setting of this book.
There was a huge amount of music in this book – Carrie lives her life to the soundtrack of the eighties, and music is a huge part of her life, but it felt sometimes like I was just reading lists of names, without any real connection with the music they were talking about, and I got very bored of it very quickly. Perhaps if I had a better musical knowledge base, I would’ve gotten more out of the musical aspects of this book, but I don’t, so I was left quite cold.
Carrie herself isn’t exactly a sympathetic character most of the time – she drinks and smokes and is on a massively self-destructive path which she either can’t or won’t see. Her self-centred approach to her life neglects to acknowledge that everyone around her lost Ginny, too, and her spiralling self-hatred is hard to read at times. But over the course of the book, she does become a lot more sympathetic, and I almost liked her by the end of it.
I also had something of a problem with the love story in the book – Dean is four years older than Carrie, an adult midway through college where she’s only starting her second-last year of high school, but this is never mentioned, not even once. While parts of their relationship were cute and enjoyable, I couldn’t quite get over that big an age gap – and life experience gap – being completely sidestepped.
I’m still not back into the swing of things, and I seem to have not enjoyed any books lately as much as I might in normal circumstances, so perhaps I’m being overly harsh on Lost Stars. There was a lot in it that I could have liked, and that I’m sure other people would like, but for me it was a decidedly mediocre read.