There's complicated. And there's Rowan Sterling.
After numbing pain for the past five years with boys, alcohol, and all-around apathy, she finds herself on a Greyhound bus to nowhere Montana the summer after she graduates high school. Her mom agreed to front the bill to Rowen’s dream art school only if Rowen proves she can work hard and stay out of trouble at Willow Springs Ranch. Cooking breakfast at the crack of dawn for a couple dozen ranch hands and mucking out horse stalls are the last things in the world Rowen wants to spend her summer doing.
Until Jesse Walker saunters into her life wearing a pair of painted-on jeans, a cowboy hat, and a grin that makes something in her chest she’d thought was frozen go boom-boom. Jesse’s like no one else, and certainly nothing like her. He’s the bright and shiny to her dark and jaded.
Rowen knows there’s no happily-ever-after for the golden boy and the rebel girl—happily-right-now is a stretch—so she tries to forget and ignore the boy who makes her feel things she’s not sure she’s ready to feel. But the more she pushes him away, the closer he seems to get. The more she convinces herself she doesn’t care, the harder she falls.
When her dark secrets refuse to stay locked behind the walls she’s kept up for years, Rowen realizes it’s not just everyone else she needs to be honest with. It’s herself.
4.5 out of 5 stars
I am a huge fan of Nicole Williams, and while I haven't read all of her books (yet) I absolutely fell in love with her Eden series and the Patrick Chronicles so I was very excited to read Lost & Found. Williams knows how to write the perfect male character - that amazing blend of sensitivity, strength and not to mention gorgeousness that makes you just sigh as you're reading - and she's done it again with Jesse in Lost & Found.
But I should start with Rowen, after all, Lost & Found is really her story. At eighteen Rowen has spent the last five years of her life hiding, rebelling and basically doing whatever she can to separate herself from the hurt that comes with relationships - of any kind. An incredibly dysfunctional relationship with her mother drives much of her behaviour. Rowen has a penchant for black, right down to her lipstick and contact lenses and is quite accustomed to the stares and 'freak' comments leveled in her direction. Rowen's mother decides that Rowen must spend a summer on an old friend's ranch to 'prove herself' before she will commit to funding Rowen's dream of attending art school. So after a long and exhausting bus trip, Rowen finds herself at Willow Springs with the Walker family: Rose, Neil, Lily, Hyacinth, Clementine and of course Jesse.
I loved Rowen, despite her fractured life she had a strength of character that was wonderful. I particularly liked her willingness to question everything she had ever known when presented with the balance and love that the Walker family embodied. She rose to the challenges they unwittingly presented her and with each step began the long journey of finding the real Rowen Sterling.
Rose was perfect as the mother figure Rowen had never had. Her stark contrast to Rowen’s mother had me questioning how it was possible for them to have been lifelong friends, and yet, it made sense at the same time. Rose loved Rowen from the start, something that Rowen struggled with, and she regularly guided Rowen as she moved forward:
"Listen, I don't know what you've done, or what your mom thinks you've done, to deserve spending your whole summer where I'd guess is the last place you'd want to spend your summer. And you know what? " She didn't wait for me to reply. "I don't care. Every morning we get a chance to be different. A chance to change. A chance to be better. Your past is your past. Leave it there. Get on with the future part, honey."
Jesse was a significant part of Rowen’s journey and his compassion, his thoughtfulness and his persistence made it impossible not to fall in love with him, despite Rowen regularly telling herself that girls like her didn’t deserve guys like Jesse.
There were so many things to like about Lost & Found that really, you just need to read it for yourself. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the same formula you’ve read before. Yes it’s troubled girl meets gorgeous boy, falls in love … but it’s also so much more than that. Rowen’s journey is beautiful and Jesse’s balance and honesty help her find her way like no other had been able to.
"We don't deserve anything, Rowen. We don't deserve punishment, we don't deserve happiness, life owes us nothing. Realize that." His voice wasn't gentle anymore; it was as strong as I'd ever heard it. "So we have to take what we want because life sure as shit isn't going to freely hand it over." He kissed the skin just above my collar bone. "And I want you."
Williams has a wonderful way with words, she creates imagery that is vivid and clear and leaves you feeling like it’s you that is walking through the field of tall grass in the middle of nowhere. Her characters are complex and yet incredibly real, often reflecting parts of your own life and experience. Pick up Lost and Found, you won’t be disappointed.
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I'm a wife, a mom, a writer. I started writing because I loved it and I'm still writing because I love it. I write young adult because I still believe in true love, kindred spirits, and happy endings. Here's to staying young at heart *raises champagne glass* . . . care to join me?