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Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: Sorry You're Lost by Matt Blackstone

Sorry You’re Lost
by Matt Blackstone

When Denny “Donuts” Murphy’s mother dies, he becomes the world’s biggest class clown. But deep down, Donuts just wants a normal life—one where his mom is still alive and where his dad doesn’t sit in front of the TV all day. And so Donuts tries to get back into the groove by helping his best friend with their plan to get dates for the end-of-the-year school dance. When their scheme backfires, he learns that laughter is not the best medicine for all of his problems. Sometimes it’s just as important to be true to yourself.

Seventh grader Denny “Donuts” Murphy is a class clown, known for his outrageous antics and excuses for missing homework. But Denny’s funny guy, always “on” attitude merely covers up how much he misses his dead mom and how truly lost he his, and his father, who spends all his time either eating or in front of the tv, is lost too. Denny’s best friend, Manny, comes up with a way for the two of them to get a taste of popularity and hot eighth grade girls as their dates to the dance. Armed with his odd charm, Denny finds success as a contraband candy seller, but no amount of money; popularity; or clown antics can keep Denny from being utterly and painfully lost in grief, anger, and fear.

Matt Blackstone’s Sorry You’re Lost is an engaging, well-written MG contemporary that is both loudly funny and quietly poignant. Denny’s story is not a fluffy, lighthearted one, and Blackstone explores heavy subject matter, such as grief; bullying; depression, and abuse, with the seriousness and authenticity such things deserve. Denny’s story, emotions, reactions, and thoughts feel captivatingly real. His grief, and feelings of just being so lost, are especially tangible. And I really like how much humor the author has included in this story: laugh-out-loud humor; silly humor; cheesy humor; cheeky, witty humor, and heart-aching humor that will make you want to laugh and cry at the same time. The balance between the humor and heaviness in this story is so deftly created.

The middle-school environment Blackstone has placed Denny in is pretty spot-on! Corny teachers, bad cafeteria food, first crushes, mean girls, bullies, a hundred daily moments of mortifying embarrassment--life at Denny’s middle-school is painfully, yet so amusingly realistic. And this world is full of characters that range from unique to plain odd, from super likable to fun to hate, and everything in between! Denny “Donuts” is awkwardly charming, sometimes annoyingly over-the-top, usually super likable, and always hard to ignore.

I like and appreciate that this story isn’t wrapped up in a neat, pretty bow or with cheesy platitudes. Like the rest of the story, the ending feels genuine and real.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Sorry You're Lost is full of both humor and heart and feels wonderfully genuine. Author Matt Blackstone entertained me with his endearing Donuts and moved me with his deft exploration of grief. A truly worthwhile read!



Batch of Books said...

Sounds like a good MG book! I like it when the ending isn't perfectly packaged and tied up with a bow. It makes the story more realistic.

Geo Librarian said...

Sounds like an enjoyable yet thought-provoking book. Thanks for the thoughtful review.

Unknown said...

I appreciate the time you take to read and review these books, this book address and issue that not a lot of us think about what would the death of a parent do to our lives at such a young age and how would we deal with it. I appreciate that Sorry You’re Lost was written by Matt Blackstone

jhon said...

hey're barely mobile and I'm already spending a good portion of my day playing referee to these babies.