‘Maybe they are not gone, those stars.
Maybe they’re just lost…
Maybe they’re just trying to find their way home.’
Lost Stars or what Lou Reed taught me about Love is the latest novel from NY writer Lisa Selin Davis. Author of the grown-up novel Belly, this is Lisa’s debut YA novel set in the 1980s and charts the path of a young girl, Caraway, as she deals with the grief after the death of her sister.
As Lisa describes it ‘ A novel, based on a New York Times’ Modern Love column, based on a story told at The Moth, based on my terrible teenage years.’
Please read on to see my thoughts…
Carrie is lost.
And she’s angry at almost everything and everyone. Most of all though, she’s angry at her big sister Ginny.
Pretty much the only thing that keeps Carrie sane is her music. Even her beloved comet, the faithful friend that she’s been following for years, can’t help her now that her dad has taken away her telescope.
Then she meets Dean. Gorgeous Dean. He’s sitting out on his front step playing guitar early one summer morning – and everything changes forever.
‘I think you need to be open to the idea that people will surprise you. At any time, someone you’re sure will disappoint you may come through.
Find a little optimism somewhere.’
Carrie is a 16 year old girl dealing with an enormous amount of issues for one so young. Having experienced the loss of her big sister Ginny, Carrie is lost. Unable to cope with the feelings of guilt, loss and fear, Carrie heads down a very slippery slope.
Her mother has left the family home and her father is unable to cope with Carrie’s attitude and her increasingly rebellious behaviour.
There are two loves in Carries life, her music and the stars. Always an avid astronomer, Carrie is tracking a comet daily. This love of the stars provides Carrie with an outlet for her grief. It provides a calmness in her life when she is unable to get it anywhere else.
The music in this book is special.
Playing a very important role in my own life, I totally understand Carrie’s feelings regarding music. Music is an escape. It is a place to go when the world is getting you down or when you are feeling really happy.
Carrie’s love of music helps her deal somewhat with her problems. With references to The Smiths, Cyndi Lauper, Kate Bush, Duran Duran and many many more, this book is such a trip down memory lane. Carrie and her friends are at that point in the 1980’s when disco is ‘so not cool’ and the new music of these bands talks to them and helps them deal with their problems.
Carrie parties hard, takes drugs and is rebellious in every possible way. Her father is at his wits end and is falling apart.
Carrie’s younger sister, Rosie, has witnessed events no 12 year old should bear witness to, yet she is resilient and deals with things in her own very unique fashion. Rosie has been forced to be way older beyond her years and, at times, almost is like the sensible backbone of the family.
Carrie meets Dean one day and the sun shines a little brighter for her.
Dean is a young musician dealing with issues of his own. Together they form an, at first, rather tentative bond that develops into more as the book progresses. Dean is staying with a neighbour of Carrie’s for the summer. In that time their relationship blossoms into something sweet. They both learn to forgive themselves a little and how not to be afraid to fall in love.
Lost Stars is a novel targeted at the YA audience, but in truth I think it is a book that the maturer adult could read aswell.
It is a coming-of-age story that deals with tragedy, grief and loss. It deals with the effect it has on the mind of a young person and the feelings that ensue. The mind of a young adult is a very delicate place where all sorts of dangerous and tragic thoughts take place.
Lisa Selin Davis has very sensitively dealt with these issues through music and the stars.
Lost Stars is really lovely, sweet book which I recommend for anyone looking for a reminder of what it was like to be a teenager in the 1980’s but also, on a more serious note, a book about the tragedy of death and loss in the family unit and how we choose to deal with it.
To purchase a copy of Lisa’s novel please click here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01HVCD0XS
About the author:
Lisa Selin Davis is originally from Saratoga Sprins, N.Y., where she spent summers playing and listening to music with her (older) friends and riding her bike.
She has written articles for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine and many other publications. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two kids, and a very old cat.
Here’s what she has to say about herself: (which I think is much better!!)
‘Okay, fine, I’ll write a bio and stick a picture of myself up here, even though I don’t want to. Also, I’m really embarrassed about the bio I wrote for LOST STARS, so maybe this’ll make me feel better about it.
I’m originally from Saratoga Springs, N.Y. but spent most of my childhood in Western Mass, after a stint in Georgia. I moved to New York City when I was 21 and had no idea what to do with my degree in experimental feminist video (good thing I went to college for free).
My brother offered me a room in his East Village hovel, and I stayed. My first career was in film/TV but I was always obsessed with the relationship between the built environment and emotional experience (or, more accurately, why I had so many friends in the more urban environment of Saratoga and so few in the more suburban environment in Massachusetts):
I wanted to know how architecture could help form community. So I enrolled first in a Ph.D. program in environmental psychology. Then, fearing that I’d get another degree like the one in experimental feminist video, I transferred to a masters in urban planning program.
Then one night my brother sat me down on his roof and said, “If you want to be a writer, why are you going to urban planning school?” He was right: I was working on Plan B, and I hadn’t even taken a stab at Plan A.
So then one day I was reading The Best American Short Stories and I read a story called Ordinary Son and I turned to the author bios and it said the author taught at Arizona State University and I sent him a letter saying I wanted to know how to do what he did and he told me to come on out to the desert and he’d teach me.
And then I wrote a novel that Little, Brown published. And then I decided to be an urban planning journalist. And then I started writing about film and travel and the environment and real estate and parenting, too, worming my way into The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, and many other publications. And I wrote a whole lot of really personal essays. And then I wrote another novel, Lost Stars, which, hopefully, you just bought!!’
This sounds great!! A real nostalgia read!
It certainly was Noelle. Nearly dancing around my handbag 😉 Who doesn’t love the ’80’s?!?! Also the serious undertone of teenage grief is palpable throughout. Thanks for your feedback. Always so appreciated. xx