Book Club Pick: The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes

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Title: The Distance Between Lost and Found

Author: Kathryn Holmes

Published: June 2016

Rating: ★★★★

Summary: Hallelujah “Hallie” Calhoun is in the midst of the worst year of her young life, which began with the preacher’s son, Luke, spreading rumors about her and ruining her reputation, losing her parents’ trust, and losing her friends. Her parents send her to church camp where Luke continues to make her life miserable. While out on a hike she decides she has had enough of his bullying and, along with two others, separates from the group to head back to camp in the hopes of being sent home. This decision leaves them lost and fighting for survival in the Tennessee Smokies wilderness.

Thoughts:  Boy did I have low expectations for this book. It is not one I have ever heard of, by an author I have never heard of, and centers around teens at a Christian youth camp. I was dreading reading this book for our book club and expected to skim through it as quickly as possible. The first 50 pages of this book had me questioning if this book would in fact meet my expectations, but after that point I was utterly gripped by this scary adventure these three youngsters put themselves into and read the book in one day. The story was told in a way that made me think the author actually knows teenagers or vividly remembers being a teen. At no point did I forget how young these three central characters were, because they embodied their age fully throughout the whole book–something that I would say was a credit to the story. The author didn’t make them exceptionally clever or heroic characters, but rather showed them fumbling about as best as they could with their limited knowledge of the wild and survival skills. The three of them banded together and took care of each other, compensating for each other when another was weak. I was really enamored with they way they came together as a unit and worked as a team.

The other concern I had going into this book is that I thought it might be Christian fiction due to the fact that they were attending a Christian camp. Think what you will about me, but I do not have any interest in reading Christian fiction and just the mere fact of Goodreads classifying a book in that category (which is not the case with this book) would likely prevent me from picking it up. This book painted an accurate picture, in my opinion, of Christian youth groups. If you grow up in the church, like I did, youth groups are a great social organization. I loved being in youth group because I loved hanging out with people my own age and that they were from other schools than my own. Kids in youth group are not a different species from teens that aren’t in youth groups, and I appreciate that this book portrayed real teens who make decisions that all teenagers make. These characters were questioning their faith a bit during their journey, but they were having completely normal conversations that young people or even adults have during trying times. If you’ve ever attended a youth group or church camp, I think this book will strike an authentic note to your own experience. The adults running the camp or the organization inject as much faith-related programming as they can, but at the end of the day, it’s a social entity.

I read this book on one rainy Saturday because I could not do anything until I saw this journey through. Was this a great piece of literature? No, but it sure was entertaining! It reminded me of the YA version of Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center, but more harrowing. This was a solid YA book that is perfect for a YA audience, but a book I think many audiences could enjoy (unless you are an audience that only like poignant, literary masterpieces).

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