“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you” – Stephanie Perkins
Author Josefina Gutierrez’s novel The Shadow of Loss narrates the story of a young girl who is coming to grips with her life after the sudden loss of a loved one. Evelyn Gonzalez has had to suffer a lot in her young age; she was the victim in an incident the authorities are still deliberating whether to call it a reckless game played by obnoxious kids or perhaps a sinister hate crime perpetrated by bigots. She didn’t just loose her best friend in the fire that day but something more, she lost herself. And that is why moving into a new town with her sister and joining a new school and having new friends come into her life maybe the best thing that has happened to her in a long time. But will Evelyn allow them to get closer to her; will she open up and be able to trust like before? These are the answers we try to find out in The Shadow of Loss.
It is a frightening tale of how someone can appear fine on the surface, and yet be damaged inside. This novel narrates the story of the indomitable spirit and the strong character of a young female who doesn’t give in to the dark side, in spite of life handing out some hard lessons very early on in her young life. The loss of her friend coupled with her mental breakdown leads her to being institutionalized and even when she gets out of the system, her soul stays locked behind her own made prison of guilt and denial. Low on confidence and having a negative body image, she pretty much fits the bill of numerous high school students who are branded as outcasts. Even when people are nice to her and try to help her, she isn’t able to recognize it and even when she does, she shies away from such intimacy. But eventually the goodness around her wears her down and lets her introspect and the courage to accept her past and forgive herself. A mix of tradition and spirituality helps her overcome her biggest fears and she is finally able to free her soul from her own imprisonment.
Josefina has got the angst and attitude of the teenagers spot on and it is reflected in the dialogues and narrative. It is an extremely fast read which I’m sure you will consume in a single sitting and this has got to do more with its writing than its length. The writing is crisp and always to the point, never dilly dallying around the plot or trying to impress you with unnecessary prose. And a funny line here and there ensures that your interest is kept intact for the full length of the book. Evelyn’s memories of June which keep popping into the narrative are another highlight of the book. The relationship between the sisters is also handled quite well and you will feel the love and concern the big sister Olive has for Evelyn. Then there are the love interest and the best friend in Brody and Matt respectively, they do what they are supposed to do and even though they don’t present any big surprises, it still works well with the genre of the book and you will enjoy their interactions with our lead.
The Shadow of Loss not only presents a compelling character study about the travails of a strong young girl but also has a powerful story that will appeal to a lot of readers. Josefina’s message of being comfortable in your own skin and being proud of your identity and choices is a good one and should be spoken about more especially amongst teens and young kids.
Print Length: 161 pages
Publisher: BookBaby; 1 edition (September 3, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.