I have a lot of my mind and not a lot to do so it’s going to come out, all of it, and then, then, it may begin to make a sort of sense.Raleigh is eighteen, confused, and convinced that a cat stole her soul. At the beginning of this story opens, she’s in a car with three of her classmates, travelling back to Toronto from California. Bit by bit, we discover what motivated her trip in the first place, and why she feels so lost and disconnected from everyone else. And that’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot. Lost at Sea is a short book, so to say much more would half ruin the fun.
Lost at Sea is such a lovely book. It’s tender, sad in a quiet sort of way, and occasionally very funny. This is Bryan Lee O'Malley’s first book: he’s better known for his Scott Pilgrim series, which I haven’t read yet (but after this, I really want to). What I liked the most about Lost at Sea was how honest and intimate it felt. It brought me back to my days as an awkward eighteen-year-old. (And just how different that feels from being an awkward twenty-something is perhaps a subject for another time.) There’s a bit in particular I really want to share with you. Unfortunately I couldn’t find these two panels online, and since my attempts to take a picture of the page were disastrous, the text alone will have to do:
I get thoughts like: I look in the mirror and I don’t belong here. I see myself and I look all wrong. Stephanie looks bold and bouncy and fresh and normal, and I look like something else. Too long, too stringy, too pasty, too squarish. Kind of inhuman.Ah, I remember that feeling very well. And of course, Raleigh's discomfort is not just physical. It also has to do with feeling isolated, with trying to figure out who she is, with being afraid to open up, to trust others, to connect, to speak at all. I could relate to that very well, but when she does speak, when she tells Stephanie why she was in California and what has been happening in her life, I felt closer to her than ever. Her pain and vulnerability made more sense than ever. It made me want to go back to the first page and read the book all over again, and that doesn’t happen very often.
What is that makes me not fit in, and is it in the world, or in my head? Why do I look like a mutant in photographs, anyway?
The blurb on the back cover of Lost at Sea says, “If you’ve ever been eighteen, or confused, or both, maybe you should read this book.” Perfectly put. Bryan Lee O’Malley really captured what being on the verge of adulthood feels like.
A Book a Week (Thank you so much for recommending this book, Kiirstin!)
Read About Comics
The Book Zombie
Books & Other Thoughts
(Let me know if I missed yours.)