Published by Freeform in May 2019
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Kira 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 perfectly. Adopted into the Bennett family, Kira still struggles with human interaction years later, but she excels at the family business: search-and-rescue. Along 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.
Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions shared are my own.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes is one of my go-to authors. I’ve read most of the books she’s published, and if I haven’t read it, I want to read it. She is one of my favorite YA mystery authors, and she did not disappoint with The Lovely and the Lost. It was full of fun characters, dogs with personalities, and secrets – lots of family secrets.
Similar to a police procedural, there is a case that all the characters are working towards, which is to find a missing girl. However, the story truly focuses on the characters of the story and the various family secrets. There’s the mystery of Kira’s back story, the girl found after days lost in a woods and adopted by Cady. There’s the mystery of Jude’s father. There’s the mystery of Cady’s estranged father. Lastly, there’s also the mystery of Gabriel, the boy living with Cady’s estranged father. There’s truly a lot going on plot-wise in The Lovely and the Lost.
Since the plot focused so much on family secrets, I really enjoyed the strong cast of characters. Kira may be the main character of the story, but I thought that all of the characters were well developed. I was invested in each of their stories. I also really loved that Barnes gave all of the rescue dogs their own personalities. They definitely stole the show during some scenes.
Because there’s a lot going on plot-wise, I did find the story a tad confusing in the beginning. It took a while before things were revealed, and I was able to piece some of the backstories together regarding the characters. Even Kira was a complete mystery. I wanted to know what happened to her in those woods as a child. Why was she there in the first place? Once I got into the story, however, it was quite the page-turner.
The story also ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. I feel like there should be a sequel, but also, there’s no sign of a sequel on Goodreads. So I’m a bit on edge about that. There are questions I still need to be answered!
Overall, I really enjoyed The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I’m *crossing my fingers* that there will be a sequel announced soon. If you’re a fan of Barnes or if you enjoy mysteries with a lot of family secrets, I highly recommend checking out The Lovely and the Lost. If you’ve read The Lovely and the Lost or if you’re planning on reading it, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts.