How We Were Lost by Megan Taylor

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How We Were Lost by Megan Taylor

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Dark, brooding, intense - not a romantic hero, but the atmosphere of this strong, evocative novel from a first time author. Pitched perfectly at introspective teenagers, it has contemporary themes but a classically romantic sensual style. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 265 Date: June 2007
Publisher: Flame Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0954594589

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The Missing Girls are everywhere. They're on posters; they're on television; they're the subject of assemblies at school. And yet, the Missing Girls are nowhere - else, of course, they wouldn't be missing. This everywhere-and-nowhere-ness of the Missing Girls is really getting to Janie. She thinks about them all the time. Have they been abducted? Are they lost? Imprisoned somewhere? Are they dead?

Janie is a gifted child - unusually intelligent, she doesn't do so well with peer relationships and so she often daydreams. While daydreaming, she escapes the difficulties of friendships and the stultifying atmosphere of her motherless and tense home. And so she fantasises about the Missing Girls and she begins to believe that it's her responsibility to find them. Finding the Missing Girls will be Janie's salvation, the answer to her sense of dislocation. But this search, if only Janie realised it, is really a cypher for another, more personal issue - that of her missing mother.

As you can see, How We Were Lost is an exceedingly intense book. Megan Taylor writes in rich, highly sensual prose - everything is an image, often a surreal image. Senses criss-cross and smell becomes colour, touch becomes sound. This perfectly suits the narrator, Janie, who is bright but troubled, and who internalises everything. Janie is simultaneously immersed in and separated from her environment. She's living in an exaggerated version of the emotional landscape inhabited by most adolescents and she is an utterly credible character, right down to dismissing other people's dramas as just that while her own are earth-shattering crises of momentous proportions. So her narration is only partially reliable, and it's the confusion between what is and what isn't really going on that provides the impetus for the plot. As Janie tries to find the missing girls, she comes closer and closer to finding what it is that she's really looking for.

I loved How We Were Lost. It's dark and brooding and it stresses highly romantic sensibilities towards strong emotion as an expression of aestheticism, yet is pitched in very familiar, kitchen-sink surroundings. It's so right for an adolescent readership. In terms of action, not that much really happens; the drama is all internal. And yet, it's utterly gripping. I read it in one sitting, staying up far too late to finish it. It comes highly recommended by Bookbag, who will be looking forward to reading anything else Megan Taylor writes.

My thanks to the nice people at Flame for sending the book. Take a look at their website - it's always good to support an ethical publisher.

If they enjoyed this, they might also like Suzanne Buglers Meet Me At The Boathouse - an intense study of first love gone wrong, or Jenny Downham's superb Before I Die about a teenager with terminal leukaemia.

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Buy How We Were Lost by Megan Taylor at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy How We Were Lost by Megan Taylor at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy How We Were Lost by Megan Taylor at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy How We Were Lost by Megan Taylor at


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