Finding the Lost

The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Publication Date: May 7,2019

Summary from NetGalley:

The Lovely and the LostKira Bennett’s earliest memories are of living alone and wild in the woods. She has no idea how long she was on her own or what she had to do to survive, but she remembers the moment that Cady Bennett and one of her search-and-rescue dogs found her. Adopted into the Bennett family, Kira still struggles with human interaction years later, but she excels at the family business: search-and-rescue. Together with Cady’s son, Jude, and their neighbor, Free, Kira works alongside Cady to train the world’s most elite search-and-rescue dogs. Someday, all three teenagers hope to put their skills to use, finding the lost and bringing them home.
But when Cady’s estranged father, the enigmatic Bales Bennett, tracks his daughter down and asks for her help in locating a missing child-one of several visitors who has disappeared in the Sierra Glades National Park in the past twelve months-the teens find themselves on the frontlines sooner than they could have ever expected. As the search through 750,000 acres of unbridled wilderness intensifies, Kira becomes obsessed with finding the missing child. She knows all too well what it’s like to be lost in the wilderness, fighting for survival, alone. 
But this case isn’t simple. There is more afoot than a single, missing girl, and Kira’s memories threaten to overwhelm her at every turn. As the danger mounts and long-held family secrets come to light, Kira is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her adopted family, her true nature, and her past. 

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ARC provided by Disney Book Group via NetGalley for an honest review. 

Confession:

It took a little while for me to get into this book, mostly due to a lack of time on my part.  But once I sat down and really committed to reading it I was hooked.  I loved the setting, I really liked the characters and the plots twists were nicely done.  In short, just about everything I like in a mystery book.

Kira was a fascinating character.  She is a hard one to love, she has a lot of issues, but as you get to know her you begin to see why her few friends are so devoted to her.  She is more comfortable with her dogs than with people, but as her backstory unfolds throughout the book, you really get to know her well. 

I loved her relationship with both Jude and Free.  Jude is a great friend and protective brother, with issues of his own.  Free, is such a free spirit, but a loyal and trustworthy friend.  The three of them together plus their dogs,  make an awesome search and rescue team.  If I was lost in the wilderness, I certainly would want this team looking for me.  They don’t give up by any means, even when the adults all tell them to stop, they don’t.  Their relationships with their dogs was also well done.  You could tell that they all loved them, and understood how to use them to the best of their abilities to rescue people.

There are many adults in this story that play important roles. Kira and Cady, her adoptive mother, have a very solid and loving relationship, even when they both find it hard to show it.  Cady is very protective of all of the kids.  Mac, is a person from Cady’s past, who is also part of the search and rescue.  He turns out to be more than he appears.  Cady’s father is also well fleshed out as a character, as is Ness, a close friend of the family.  The difficulties between Cady and her father become an important part of the story.  Also, Cady’s past relationship with Mac adds to the twists of the plot.

I can’t say much about the plot without giving things away, but it is pretty intense.  You feel the urgency of everyone’s need to find the little girl who is lost.  You feel their worry as each part of the search turns up clues that she isn’t just lost but maybe taken.  Kira’s memories of what happened to her, plus the story about why Cady and her father have been estranged makes for a complex story line.  I pretty much figured out what was really going on about the same time that Kira did which made everything that much more intense.  

An excellent story that will keep you interested until the end.   I loved the added addition of the rescue dogs and their training as well as the setting of the national park.  If you like a well crafted story of how family secrets can shape your life, than this is the story for you.   

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