(coming from Sourcebooks Fire, September 3, 2019)
A poignant, heartbreaking, and uplifting story in the tradition of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. We Are Lost and Found is about three friends coming-of-age in New York City in 1983 who are struggling to forge their own paths amid the pressures of relationships, sexuality, school, family, and the looming threat of a disease that everyone is talking about, but no one understands.
I am thrilled to be able to share my cover for WE ARE LOST AND FOUND. With design by Nicole Hower and art by Adams Carvalho, this image does SUCH does a great job of capturing the vibrancy and grittiness of 1983’s New York City and it is so amazing to see Becky, James, Michael, and Gabriel brought to life.
The book is told in vignettes and you’ll find the opening ones here below the cover and followed by a chance to win an ARC.
I’d be grateful if you’d add it to your TBR list on goodreads and it is available for pre-order from all of your usual booksellers.
You can also order signed copies through Parnassus Books in Nashville. When you check out, please include any desired personalization in the “comments” section.
And if you pre-order the book (thank you, thank you!!), make sure you hang on to your receipts because there will be prizes and giveaways to come.
Also, if you don’t want to read the book for any other reason, read it for the two amazing essays that are included at the end, one by Ron Goldberg, ACT UP NYC’s “chant queen” from 1987 -94, and one from Jeremiah Johnson, HIV Project Director for Treatment Action Group and Jason Walker, HIV/AIDS Campaign Coordinator for VOCAL-NY. I couldn’t be more honored to have their words included along with my own.
Now, on to this amazing cover and the excerpt and giveaway!!!
On the last day before Christmas break, Mr. Solomon hands out a bunch of sharpened number two pencils and a stack of xeroxed sheets. Just answer honestly, he instructs our class, It’s a career-assessment test, not a final exam.
The first question:
Which tasks would you prefer to undertake (select as many as apply):
Study the cause of diseases
Make people laugh
Drive a truck
I hesitate and write my own list in the margins, drawing boxes and filling them in hard until the pencil tip is ground down to nothing.
Fall in love
Figure out who the hell I am
Have sex without catching something
Repair my family
St. Sebastian’s is glowing with candles, swirling with incense, and overrun by kids allowed to stay up way past their bedtimes to attend midnight mass. But the only thing I can focus on is my brother, Connor, drumming his fingers on the wood of the back pew, trying to pretend he doesn’t care that he’s sitting alone in our family’s church on Christmas Eve.
When Dad goes to talk to someone he knows from work, I whisper to my mom and ask if she can find a way to get my father to allow Connor to sit with us.
She looks back at my brother, who is wearing a bizarrely conservative button-down and cardigan. The only part of the getup that looks like Connor is the “Beat it” button over his heart. Even when he tries to rein it in, he can’t.
Connor glances over and then looks away. He knows we’re watching.
For a minute, I’m optimistic. After all, it’s Christmas and Connor didn’t have to come to St. Sebastian’s. He has a million friends. A world of boys he’s replaced us with. He only came to this church because he knew we’d be here. That has to count for something. Even to my father.
But then Mom spins her wedding ring and says, It’s a holiday, Michael. Let’s not make waves. You know how your father is.
And any hope I have for a Christmas miracle is dashed faster than an eight-year-old’s belief in Santa Claus.
My parents would murder me if they knew I was standing outside Central Park at midnight on New Year’s Eve with my best friends.
They’d murder me twice if they knew I was drunk.
But Becky brought a flask of something that goes down like fire, and it’s freaking cold out, so we pass the container back and forth, while horses pull tourists around in carriages behind us. Then, in unison, we tilt our heads toward the sky, watching the clouds move across the moon, while the whole city explodes in noise and light and the possibilities that 1983 might bring.
Time kind of stops, and I hold my breath, trying to hang on to this feeling. We’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder—Becky, James, and me—for warmth, or friendship, or safety, or something I can’t name. James is in the middle as always, binding our little group together simply by being James.
He’s wearing this long, black, wool coat with tiny anchors etched onto the silver buttons that might make anyone walking by think he had military leanings, but the sharp architectural cut of his white-blond hair and the gray slash of his eye shadow would set them straight.
Next to him, I look like a mannequin for Sears’s Young Men’s department in my sweater and jeans, while Becky is channeling that new singer, Madonna, all teased hair, rubber bracelets, and a fishnet shirt under her blue wool pea coat.
James reaches an arm around each of us.
I lean my head on his shoulder, careful to avoid his Teardrop Explodes: Treason button.
Becky reaches behind his back and grabs my hand, her skin cold through her black lace gloves.
You know what, Michael? James asks, as he steps forward and turns to face us, backdropped by the fireworks, arms open wide as if he could embrace the entire city.
I shake my head and watch the snowflakes fly off my hair, each perfect crystal reflecting the flash of colored lights: red, green, gold.
Becky moves closer to me, either to wait for the wisdom of James, or to warm up.
This is it, he says, in the quiet space between explosions. The silence is so gigantic, it’s as if all of New York reserved this moment to hear what James has to say. And what he says is: This is the day it all begins.
What? Becky asks.
James looks at the sky as if he owns it and says, The best year ever.
And that is how I know I’m drunk—I believe him.
I’m the only one of us stuck with a curfew.
I have to be home by one thirty—a New Year’s Eve reprieve from my usual midnight deadline—because my mother worries.
And because my father is a control freak.
The question is always this: Use the bulk of my allowance to take a taxi—if I can even find one—or risk my life and take the subway?
A slideshow plays in my head. Graffiti-decorated trains and silent cars where no one will meet your eyes and, this time of night, the smell of piss and vomit, and lights that dim when we hit certain parts of the tracks.
Take a taxi, Becky says. Money won’t help if you get stabbed.
James grabs her from behind in a bear hug, his head resting on her shoulder. He says, Oh, kitten, that will never happen. Don’t forget that Andy and his new friends will swoop in like Spider-Man to protect Michael from the bad guys.
Becky has been dating Andy since the middle of sophomore year. BeckyandAndy, AndyandBecky.
Once Andy found out he only had to be sixteen to join the Guardian Angels, he started training to become a card-carrying vigilante, like he’s doing tonight.
James rolls his eyes. Must make the subway safe for the tourists, he says under his breath.
Becky scowls and pulls away. James shrugs and says to me, Or spend the seventy-five cents on a token and buy the new U2 import single. You know you want it.
There is that.
Really? Becky asks me with her hands on her hips. Really? You can’t wait, like, two weeks for a record to come out in the States?
James and I stare at her with matching expressions.
I love you, Becks, but you don’t get it, I say.
And she doesn’t get it. She listens to music, follows the fashions, but to her, it’s all background noise. Something to cover up the sound of traffic and the neighbors screaming at their kids, and to take her mind off the fact that it’s New Year’s Eve and her mom probably won’t come home or even call.
Music isn’t the thing that makes her feel alive.
I try to stand next to the cop on the subway. Try not to stare at the hundred-year-old woman with the accordion, or the girl reclining on the lawn chair, or the guy talking to himself and rattling the door between the cars, or the two kids at the end of the car with gang tats.
I try not to think that maybe Becky was right.