The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby – Book Review
It is easy to become trapped in our own lives. We go through day after day performing the same daily rituals, all the while feeling that there is something wrong with ourselves or our own personal circumstances. Day after day eventually becomes year after year, with nothing really changing. All the while there is a low hum reverberating through our bones, something bubbling in the background of our brains that suggests there is a problem with the way that we are living. It stops us from ever being truly happy. Eventually we start to forget what does make us happy. What makes us who we are. We become lost in our own little lives and it often takes a big change that we never expected to help us find ourselves again.
Title: The Other Side of Lost
Author: Jessi Kirby
Published: 7th August 2018
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
“Mari Turner’s life is perfect. That is, at least to her thousands of followers who have helped her become an internet starlet. But when she breaks down and posts a video confessing she’s been living a lie—that she isn’t the happy, in-love, inspirational online personality she’s been trying so hard to portray—it goes viral and she receives major backlash. To get away from it all, she makes an impulsive decision: to hike the entire John Muir trail. Mari and her late cousin, Bri, were supposed to do it together, to celebrate their shared eighteenth birthday. But that was before Mari got so wrapped up in her online world that she shut anyone out who questioned its worth—like Bri.
With Bri’s boots and trail diary, a heart full of regret, and a group of strangers that she meets along the way, Mari tries to navigate the difficult terrain of the hike. But the true challenge lies within, as she searches for the way back to the girl she fears may be too lost to find: herself.”
The Other Side of Lost focuses on the life of Mari, a social media celebrity, who has never really dealt with the death of her cousin and as their mutual 18th birthday arrives her glass bubble starts to shatter. In a moment of realisation, or perhaps grief, Mari posts a farewell video to her followers explaining how her social media persona is fake, that she is actually very unhappy and how her current existence feels meaningless.
Mari’s character is well written and I like the way that she is portrayed as more of an ‘average’ girl who has worked very hard on a persona rather than her being a naturally drop-dead gorgeous girl who never really had to try. It makes her much easier to identify with on multiple levels. Firstly, it is hard work to maintain a social media presence, with or without creating an alternate persona, so it is easy to understand how Mari’s hyper-focus on her number of followers has led her to shut away other parts of her life. When her birthday present arrives I’m sure most readers will be able to identify with being put in a situation where it is easy to fall back on what you know rather than break down your barriers and take a big risk with only hope of something better on the other side. What feels very authentic is Mari’s grief. I love the way that Jessi Kirby talks about Bri and her relationship with Mari. Bri is an awesome character and her parts in the book are hear-breaking as well as uplifting in equal measure.
The are a few secondary characters in the book such as Vanessa and Josh, who are very likeable. It is interesting how little we learn about some of the secondary characters. In most books I would consider the characters underdeveloped but that is not true in this case. We are given just the right amount of insight into the more important secondary characters and their group dynamics to make it feel authentic.
There are multiple themes in The Other Side of Lost but the strongest one is faith. Not just in a religious sense, although Bri certainly has an almost angelic presence in the story with Mari believing that she is watching over her. Mari has to have a lot of faith. Faith that she is doing things for the right reasons, that her cousin would want her to complete the adventure she will now never do and mostly importantly faith in herself. Her faith that she can keep going and that she can change her life is very inspirational. The novel is accurately described as an emotionally charged story and I found that it acted as a mental reset for me. I experienced so many different emotions through Mari’s character. There was laughter and quite a few tears shed. By the end of the book I honestly started to feel like I was capable of making changes too.
The Other Side of Lost is an easy read, which is paced very well. It is not an action filled book but rather the experience of a personal journey, with all of its ups and downs. If like me you have wondered what it would be like to break free and escape everyday life for something better then this is a very good book for you to pick up. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy YA Contemporary novels with a heavy character focus.
As a final point I would like to say that I really appreciate how Jessi Kirby finishes the novel. It takes a talented author to know where to leave a book. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but it ends at the right time and in the perfect place.
*I was kindly sent an ARC of this book from the publisher for review purposes.*