- Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin
After a serious car accident and eight months in physical rehabilitation, Ember is finally going home. Her relieved parents and devoted best friend, Rachel, are thrilled to have Ember back, but Ember is troubled; she has no memory of the accident or the six weeks before it, and no recollection of the young man, Anthony, who was her passenger and who died in the crash. Returning to her junior year, she delves into what’s behind perplexing references to her actions during her blank period, the strange friendliness of people she didn’t realize were close to her, and memorabilia that takes her to new places. Her search for herself leads her to a mysterious and compelling guy, Kai, as well as a growing realization that she had been outgrowing some of her old ways before her accident, and that she may not want to stay the Ember she’s returned as. There are echoes of the author’s memorable The Other Shepards (BCCB 11/98) in this exploration of a girl who’s haunted by a past that she can’t experience and that’s overlaying her present. The device of the accident adds drama and mystery, but it’s also a very clever way to explore the significance of the common teenage experience of redefinition and its impact. The loss Ember’s parents and friends clearly felt at Ember’s moving on to new style, goals, company, and boyfriend is treated respectfully, but Ember’s reiteration of that change validates it as genuine growth and development. Meanwhile, Ember’s tantalizing relationship with Kai is exciting but bittersweet, since Griffin hints the truth to readers (he’s her memories of Anthony, who was her new and wonderful love) before Ember is ready to recognize it. The lure of secret romance and just plain secret secrets will draw readers to this inventive take on changing teen identity.