Reviews /

Lose You to Find Me

Authored by Erik J. Brown
Published by Hachette Children's Group

Tagged ,

Erik J Brown‘s All That’s Left in the World was one of last year’s most exciting YA debuts – a post-apocalyptic pandemic novel with a beautiful gay love story at its heart. Fans of this book are bound to enjoy his follow-up, Lose Me to Find You: another LGBTQ+ romance but with a setting that could not be more different.

17-year-old Tommy works as a waiter at Sunset Estates, an upmarket retirement community where rule number one is ‘Never say no‘ to the residents. He is hoping to follow in his late father’s footsteps by studying at La Mère Labont culinary school, but he needs something special to make his application stand out. Enter Gabriel De La Hoya, a childhood crush from summer camp who helped Tommy to realise he was gay and whom Tommy hasn’t seen for the last six years. Gabe turns up to work at Sunset Estates, and Tommy is assigned to train him. But while Tommy struggles to keep his feelings for Gabe under control, Gabe doesn’t even seem to recognise Tommy.

This is a great read with well-developed characters exploring ideas around identity and relationships which will resonate with all teenagers, given that all the main characters are in the process of figuring out who they are and what they want to do with their lives. In addition to the dilemmas faced by Tommy and Gabe, the novel also explores the experiences of Tommy’s friends Ava, a high-achieving Black girl who is anxious about letting her parents down, and Brad, who isn’t yet ready to come out as gay. There are some heavier themes presented, notably the impact of homophobia on mental health, but the overall tone of this novel is quite light and humorous with lots of entertaining dialogue. I particularly enjoyed the intergenerational relationships between some of the Sunset Estates staff and residents, especially Tommy’s bond with Al and Willa, ‘my fairy grandfather and badass lesbian grandmother‘; some of the funniest moments in the book are the sassy one-liners Al trades with the staff. I also loved the crash course in film that Gabe offers Tommy and the Oscar-themed ice cream parlour they visit where flavours include ‘Frances McDor-Mint Chocolate Chip‘ and ‘Reese’s with a Spoon Sundae‘.

There is lots of adult content (as well as a kitchen-related injury that is not for the squeamish!) so this is a book that is most suitable for KS4 upwards, but I would definitely recommend it for secondary school libraries. It adds to a growing body of YA fiction in which LGBTQ+ teenagers can see themselves represented and allies can understand more about their experiences.