Skip to main content

The Art of Losing

Review

The Art of Losing

THE ART OF LOSING follows 17-year-old Harley Langston after one grief-stricken night --- a night in which Harley discovers her younger sister, Audrey, hooking up with her boyfriend, Mike. The next time Harley sees Audrey is in the hospital after Mike drunkenly drives Audrey and crashes, leaving her in a coma. While Harley must deal with the indisputable truth of Mike’s drinking problem, she reconnects with her childhood friend, Rafael, who just recently came out of rehab. As Harley becomes closer with Rafael and Audrey slowly begins to recover, Harley must learn to redefine herself and the relationships she has with the people she cares about most.

Lizzy Mason’s debut novel THE ART OF LOSING is a poignant rendition of the ever-complex relationship that is sisterhood, emphasizing the bonds and betrayals that accompany your most important relationships and whether we are willing to love more than we could ever lose. Lizzy Mason presents us with fears that are most daunting, such as the possibility of losing a sister, and how, in a world of the most devastating lows and unexpected highs, we can learn the art of losing and healing.

"THE ART OF LOSING is a powerful and raw read for those seeking a story that unapologetically articulates what many are afraid to say....uncompromisingly honest and emotionally compelling..."

With this novel, I thought the characterization was fantastic. Each character is deliberately depicted to be authentic and realistic as Mason does not refrain from thoroughly detailing all of her characters. For example, Harley is portrayed as a very loving individual who wholeheartedly devotes herself to those she cares about. Mason, however, further complicates who Harley is, fully representing the different depths of her. In reality, Harley is an insecure girl who finds herself constantly used by other people in order to validate her own self. Just like Harley, the other characters are not superficial; all of them have specific attributes, and most importantly, specific flaws. Mason’s characters do not follow the typical tropes of perfection and are fully immersed in the inevitable lures of teenage life, such as addiction.

I was also intrigued by how Mason manipulates time in her novel. She switches between the past and present, contrasting memory with reality. The flashbacks that are interwoven into the story further conceive Harley’s perspective regarding the most important people in her life, especially with Audrey. The flashbacks detail the initial intimacy between Audrey and Harley and their eventual detachment from each other as both grow alongside and away from each other. By continuously reinforcing the past, Mason presents us with the prominence of our past and our tendency to be unhealthily reliant on who we were instead of who we could be, especially in the confusing time of teenagers.

What was most impactful to me was how Mason tackles the issue of addiction and incorporates it into the basis of the story. The two main male characters, Rafael and Mike, are written to represent two distinct sides of handling addiction. While Mike refuses to acknowledge that he has a problem, Rafael is unsure of whether he has an addiction but is committed to staying sober for the sake of his family and himself. Mason’s featuring of two distinct types of people further add to the all-encompassing brutality that is addiction as well as the social ramifications that accompany it. Mason understands the heart of alcoholism, and she introduces addiction as a way to reveal any misconceptions about the issue as well as the fear and art that is this idea of change. Change in this novel manifests itself in various ways, each as equally important and necessary as the other.

Overall, THE ART OF LOSING is a powerful and raw read for those seeking a story that unapologetically articulates what many are afraid to say. Both uncompromisingly honest and emotionally compelling, THE ART OF LOSING is a story that reminds us of the potential for something better when we find ourselves in the inevitable art of loss.

Reviewed by Sarah Y., Teen Board Member on February 27, 2019

The Art of Losing
by Lizzy Mason