The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason

I have always loved a good contemporary YA, and while I’ve never shied away from the ones that are more serious, lately I’ve mostly stuck with fluff and fantasy (for reasons).

But Lizzy Mason’s stunning debut The Art of Losing is like a breath of fresh air; this heartfelt book somehow finds a way to perfectly balance the serious with lightness. And isn’t that the best way to live your life? Laughter is what helps us get though the hard times, and this book provides the perfect blend of tragedy, heart and humor.

On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston’s life changes forever. At a party she discovers her younger sister, Audrey, hooking up with her boyfriend, Mike—and she abandons them both in a rage. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma. Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain and the undeniable truth that her ex-boyfriend (who is relatively unscathed) has a drinking problem. So it’s a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who’s recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons. At first Harley doesn’t want to get too close to him. But as Audrey awakens and slowly recovers, Raf starts to show Harley a path forward that she never would have believed possible—one guided by honesty, forgiveness, and redemption.

This book gave me so many feels, I don’t even know where to begin.

Okay, let’s start with my favorite part: the relationship between Audrey and Raf (because I’m always a sucker for a good love story, more so lately than ever before). Their relationship is far from easy, but I loved the honesty and openness they share. Their past childhood friendship provides a nostalgic foundation, but it’s the realness of the time they spend together — and their ability to be truthful with each other — that makes their connection so special. There is a raw honesty to some of the moments they share that resonate with me still, long after finishing the book.

The main arc of the book follows Harley in the aftermath of her sister’s actions and the crash that leaves her in a coma. The conflicting emotions she feels throughout this ordeal are complex, but Mason deftly helps her heroine navigate them in a way that feels genuine and real. (And they should; Lizzy was inspired by some of her own experiences as a teen addict.) Raf often helps provide perspective and guidance as Harley navigates these feelings, but ultimately, it’s up to her how to handle things — and though she makes mistakes along the way, she finds a way to live with what has happened and move forward.

The Art of Losing is a book about grace and love and forgiveness — both for others, and for ourselves. I was absolutely captivated by this book from start to finish, and I can’t wait to see what Lizzy writes next. Look for The Art of Losing in stores on Tuesday.

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