A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST, by Joy McCullough, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, April 14, 2020, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 8 and up)
Sometimes you come across a book that just makes you happy. A Field Guide to Getting Lost is one such book. There’s such a simple joy that comes across, even though not everything that happens is a pleasant experience.
The story revolves around two apparent misfits — Sutton, a girl who loves science, and Luis, a boy who’s allergic to what seems like almost everything.
Sutton is having robot problems. Her mini-bot is supposed to be able to get through a maze in under a minute, but she must have gotten something wrong in the coding. Which is frustrating for a science-minded girl like Sutton—almost as frustrating as the fact that her mother probably won’t be home in time for Sutton’s 10th birthday.
Luis spends his days writing thrilling stories about brave kids, but there’s only so much inspiration you can find when you’re stuck inside all day. He’s allergic to bees, afraid of dogs, and has an overprotective mom to boot. So Luis can only dream of daring adventures in the wild.
Sutton and Luis couldn’t be more different from each other. Except now that their parents are dating, these two have to find some common ground. Will they be able to navigate their way down a path they never planned on exploring? —Synopsis provided by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
A Field Guide to Getting Lost is Joy McCullough’s debut middle-grade novel, but you’d never know that. Her writing is so comfortable and inviting, you’d think she’d spent years writing for this age group. There’s a natural cadence to her prose that lends to its authenticity.
Sutton and Luis are as different as can be, but they are equally likeable. Sutton has a dogged determinedness that is endearing. I think most readers can easily commiserate with Luis. Everyone can imagine not being able to eat something they really like or being afraid of bees, even if they’re not allergic.
What connects the Sutton and Luis is the under riding feeling of frustration each feels for their unique situations. Both are unhappy with their current situations and both know changes are coming. This universal feeling is not only real but relatable.
I read A Field Guide to Getting Lost in about two uninterrupted hours. I look forward to reading more from this author!
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