Khanh the Killjoy

The Lost - Sarah Beth Durst
I am lost.

But I couldn’t face the truth. That’s why I left, why I drove straight, why I left Mom alone to face the news by herself. What kind of person does that? A person who deserves this. A person who deserves to lose what she treasures. I deserve to be lost, to never see home again, to never swim in the ocean again.
This book reminds me of the song Hotel California.
"Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.'"
I’m sure there are people out there who have always known what they wanted to be in life. Who are where they want in life. I was never that person, and I’m not that person now.

I think it is a rare person who doesn’t feel lost at one point in their life, who goes through life with the kind of ease and confidence towards which one aspires. As a child, we think the future will be so great, that adults are all-knowing, that with age comes confidence, assurance, invincibility, the belief that we can take whatever life throws as us as long as it’s not, well, a 18-ton truck. Well, as we learn, life doesn’t work that way.

Life throws lemons at us. It throws shit at us. It throws errant family members, troublesome friends, a soul-sucking job at us. It throws old flames at us, or else it steadfastly denies us any sort of love at all. Life sucks. Most of us are just living day to day, finding our way seems to be a luxury, because most of us just don’t have the time for that Eat, Pray, Love bullshit where you get to fucking jet yourself off to Italy in a complacent, self-indulgent journey of self-reflection complete with wonderful food, luxury resorts, and hunky men.

No, many of us never find our way at all. Most of us stop trying. Some of us run away from our problems, I know I do, and that’s why this book resonates so much with me. No, it’s not the most exciting book in the world, and I fucking hated the inclusion of a child character (I hate children), but overall, this book is about being, well, Lost. It is not without hope, and that’s what ultimately matters, isn’t it?

Because what else do we live for, if not hope?

The Summary:
I have to believe that I’ll escape someday. But maybe there is no hope.
Maybe it’s over.
Maybe I’m in hell.
Or purgatory.
Maybe I’m dead.
Maybe I can never return.
Maybe this is it.
Lauren made a wrong turn. She made a mistake.

Lauren didn’t intend to get lost. She’s not usually this impulsive. She’s a 27-year old firmly entrenched in the corporate world. She wakes up. She goes to work. She wears a brown suit. She wears conservative makeup. Her wild days are over, Lauren is a grown-up. This is what grown-ups do.

Only Lauren woke up this morning and just drove off. She didn’t care about her job, more importantly, she just –ever so selfishly, for just one moment—want to forget about her beloved mom who is dying from cancer, for just one morning. Just one day.

That is how she found herself in the town of Lost.

Imagine an old, washed out Midwestern US town, a ghost town, a town full of dust, forgotten dreams, and lost wishes. A town that pretty much screams abandon hope, all ye who enters here because it is barren, abandoned, withered. Except that its unfortunate inhabitants will never leave. They physically can’t. A void surrounds the town. A red cloud of dust (and of DOOM!!!!!!!). Those who try to leave will circle around the road, only to end up where they started.

The inhabitants are strange.
Behind me, the man says, “You were lost; you are found.” As if they’re one, everyone outside—the kids, the woman planting dead flowers, the man in the dirty business suit—all turn to face the diner.
Inside the diner, everyone applauds.
From adults who stare at Lauren with knowing in their eyes, with hostility, to children who come straight out of Stephen King’s Children of the Corn.
Children, as ragged as those on the outskirts of town, are crouched in the alleys between the shops. Perched on top of and around Dumpsters, they watch me, their eyes bright and hard. One little girl in a princess dress sucks on her thumb. She has a dirty teddy bear tucked under her elbow and a knife in her other hand. She squeezes the handle as if it’s as comforting as a teddy bear.

I retreat away from the center of town, back toward the motel and the diner. I hear footsteps behind me.

The children are trailing after me.
They know what’s going on. They understand Lauren’s confusion, even if she’s in denial about it. And it is denial. Lauren’s mother is dying, she can’t be there for her, instead, she’s in this godforsaken place---trapped, for possibly forever? Talk about desperation. Talk about despair.

And then it gets worse. The townspeople turn against her. There is a man, The Missing Man, and the townspeople believe that she’s the one who drove him off. The only people to come to her aid right now is the knife-wielding child, Claire, and the handsome, enigmatic Peter. Peter, who finds The Lost.
I’m the Finder. The Finder and the Missing Man, two sides of a coin, not the same. I bring them in, and he sends them on. I can’t send you home. But I can keep you alive.” He holds out his hand. “If you trust me.”
Peter, who found her. Peter, who might give her a reason to stay. Peter, who might be the person to give her hope, who prevents her from falling into utter, complete despair.

And maybe, just maybe, Lauren will find that it’s not so bad to be Lost, after all.
“Okay, that’s enough.” Peter jumps to his feet. “I’ve watched you yearn to leave. Now I’m going to show you why you should want to stay.” He holds out his hand.

I take it.
I try to push the ache deep down like I always do and pretend it’s enough to paint walls and collect teacups.
This is going to sound stupid, but I see a lot of myself in Lauren. It helps immensely to be able to connect to the main character, and I suspect that it’s the reason why I found myself enjoying this book so much. Lauren has a dry, deadpan sense of humor. She doesn’t crack inappropriate jokes at stupid times, but neither does she take herself completely seriously. Yet she's special, somehow. We all are.
“You don’t seem to be an interesting person,” he says. “Lost your way emotionally, psychologically, and physically. Cut-and-dried, really. There must be more to you.”
She’s a serious person. She kind of has to be, with a mother like that, with no father. She’s an adult, doing adult things, and Lauren has mostly been satisfied with the status quo, and is rather terrified at being forced out of it in Lost. She just wants to go back home.

Lauren hurts a lot. She’s in a great deal of pain because her mother is dying, and she truly loves her mother. She made a mistake for one day, leaving her responsibilities, and she feels regret, although she never constantly wallows in despair. Lauren thinks: what next? How can I resolve this? How do I get out of this situation?

Her character resonates with me a lot. I, too, have a sick mom (although not of cancer). And if I may be so self-indulgent, I’m going to say that I’ve been going through life with a lot of doubts, too. I was one of those pretentious kids who carried around books on philosophy until I realized it did me no fucking good to dwell on the negative. Lauren’s character feels…familiar. That is why I love her.

The Romance:
He lands softly beside me, like a cat, bent knees. He rises smoothly. “I told you I find the kernel of hope. You lose hope and I can’t find you. I’ll always find you. But you have to exist to be found!”
Just right. The main love interest in this book is the inscrutable Peter, and he has a very Peter Pan feel, if Peter Pan had been a grown ass man who’s sexy as fuck. Like Peter Pan, this book’s Peter has a tendency to pop into your bedroom during odd times, even though I felt like he never reached the realm of stalkerhood. And I hate stalkers, so nyah!

He’s mysterious for a reason. We all love our dark leading men with secrets, and Peter is no different. He promises a Dark Haunted Past, and I love him all the more for it. Clichés be damned.
“You can’t save everyone. Consider that your next lesson. That man died before he came here.” He’s earnest in a way I’ve never seen him, eyes intent on mine. I imagine I see a flicker of...what? Sadness? All the childlike play is gone, and I see a man who looks as though he’s lost more than I can imagine.
He is a kind person, who appears initially gruff. He understands Lauren. He literally saves her life. He encourages her. He builds up her confidence. He does not make Lauren rely on him. If I could best compare the relationship between Peter and Lauren, I would say that they are similar to Valek and Yelena from Poison Study. Peter lets Lauren have her space.

He pulls her out of her despair, he makes her take action, and I felt like he’s Lauren’s perfect foil. As for Lauren, she feels attraction, but she isn't susceptible to insta-love. To her, Peter is a tool to get out of Lost.
I don’t care what he thinks of me, so long as he helps me get home. I don’t need to make friends, even with shockingly handsome and strangely fascinating men who might as well have walked right out of my subconscious.
But it's in him that she might find herself.

I can’t help myself, so I’ll make a pun. This is a great book to get Lost in.
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
'Relax,'' said the night man,
'We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'"