Sunday, June 30, 2013

Book Review - Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz

In the wake of the post-9/11 sniper shootings, fragile love finds a stronghold in this intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer.  It's a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives.

Craig’s crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him...and if he’ll do it again...and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody.

Lio feels most alive when he's with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable...and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.

This intense, romantic novel from the author of Break and Invincible Summer is a poignant look at what it is to feel needed, connected, and alive.

Over the past few weeks, Hannah Moskowitz’s writing has come along and swept me up in a whirlwind of awesome.  She’s got this way of writing that makes you feel the characters, makes you leap inside their mind during the duration of the book and see through their eyes, feel what they feel and love what they love.  Which is intended to be complimentary and an exclamation of greatness, by the way.  Not creepy.

When I read Teeth a couple months ago, I was struck by the sheer force of its characterization.  I remember simultaneously thinking that it had to be a fluke, and praying that it wasn’t because seriously, YA needs more writers like Moskowitz.  So I quickly ordered Gone, Gone, Gone and set to reading it with cautious optimism.

If you want me to sum up my reading experience in just one word, here it is; holyfreakingwow.  Teeth was not a fluke, Moskowitz really is just that good, and I think I’ve found my new (again, not creepy) author obsession.

The difference in plot between the two books is monumental.  One is an abuse-themed fantasy about magical all-curing fish, the other a contemporary about what it’s like to fall in love in a time of fear.  But it’s obvious that both are penned by the same talented writing hand, because both feature some of the absolute greatest characterization I have ever read.  Ever.  Now I know I’m beating the whole “Omgz this book’s characterization!  Asdfghkl soooo good FEELS!” thing over the head, but it’s honestly that big of a deal.  If you didn’t already know that the single most important thing about a book for me is its characters, you do now.  And Gone, Gone, Gone delivers beautifully.

Craig and Lio are sophomore boys living in the D. C. area during a string of sniper shootings shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attack.  Both have their own wonderfully realistic flaws, and both react to the shootings differently.  Both are also gay boys navigating their growing feelings for each other while faced with obstacles that keep them apart.  Something I love almost as much as the characterization in Gone, Gone, Gone is how it handles the LGBT theme.  Lio and Crag being gay is hardly even an issue in this book.  Craig’s family knows about his sexual orientation and is completely okay with it, and though Lio’s family may be a bit more clueless, we know from the very start that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to them.  They don’t get teased, they aren’t victims or statistics, and this isn’t a story about being gay.  It’s a story about falling in love, and the two that are doing the falling just happen to possess the same form of genitilia.  I’ve read so many books that make the main character’s homosexuality the forefront of the plot, so I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to read a novel that doesn’t care that its characters are gay or use it as some sort of plot device.

The writing is, of course, superb.  There is depth to this novel that is just so raw and pure, it almost brought tears to my eyes on several occasions.  One line in particular jumped out and caught me:

“You know that whole thing about the world ending with a whimper, not a bang?  This is how it’s going to happen.  We get shot until there’s no one left.”

 Such a simple line, morbid and upfront, but it gave me goose bumps and a serious case of writer’s envy.  And it was only one of many that had that effect on me.

“ ‘You think you won’t get shot because you’re you.  You doesn’t get shot.  Won’t happen to you.’ ”

 “I don’t know how to convince myself that I could be like the people I see on the news or the people I imagine at Cody’s school.  Do I need to put a gun to my own head to feel it?  I’m not going to die, and this is my life, and I feel it in my fucking bones, so am I supposed to understand how it’s possible to not be alive?  Being alive is all that I am.”

I love how eloquently Moskowitz put this, this ingrained feeling of invincibility we all walk around with.  This knowledge that we are going to live to see another day, that our lives won’t be stolen from us even though it happens to others all the time.  That we’re somehow special just because we’re us.  I spent so much time during the three days I was reading this novel thinking about that, really thinking about it.  I came as close to admitting that I’m not infallible as I’ve ever come, but still I know I’ll be alive tomorrow.  Still I’m like Craig, drunk on the sure knowledge of my livingness.  And that’s so incredible for a novel to be able to do, to capture that feeling of fear and humanness so perfectly with nothing but words on paper.  I realize I’m rambling, but this book just makes you think.  I ramble when I think, apparently.

I don’t know how this review turned into a post on philosophical ponderings, but I’m going to let that show you just how good it is.  It sticks with you, it introduces characters you’re going to love for years to come, throws gems of profundity at you, and takes you inside one of the sweetest love stories.  It hits all the marks on what makes a good contemporary novel, and if you’ve got any ounce of sense, you’re going to run out and buy/borrow Gone, Gone, Gone so you can experience it for yourself.
Gone, Gone, Gone - 5 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

  1. I'm waiting for the book to go on sale, but it looks like is not going to happen! :-(


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