The Beautiful Lost

304p. Scholastic/Point. Jun. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338111071.
Gr 7 Up—An absent mother, a battle with depression, and a road trip with the son of a murderer—what's not to like? This realistic novel starts slowly. When Maia was only 13, her mother left, sending her letters filled with loving reminders of the bond they once had. The promise of rekindling that relationship inspires Maia to plan a trip to the only fjord in North America to go and live with her mother, who is researching whales. Maia has a crush on Billy, a social outcast who's used to evading the law (his father was convicted of murdering his wife for the insurance money). Together, Billy and Maia cover their tracks and make their way to Canada to find Maia's mother. Teens will read this predictable romance with apprehension, wondering how Rice will resolve two main issues: Maia's decision to stop taking her medication, and her pact with Billy never to return to New Britain, CT. Readers will be relieved that the resolution of both matters is handled responsibly. The author's note sheds light on her own experience with depression, and a valuable list of resources is appended.
VERDICT Fans of Nicholas Sparks will fall in love with this YA title.

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