The Shadow of Loss
By Josefina Gutierrez
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Multicultural, Romance, YA
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Goodreads OR buy Shadow of Loss here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble| Kobo
Evelyn Gonzalez keeps losing people, which is always hard, but has she lost something much more? Has she lost her soul? Evelyn has a nervous breakdown and is institutionalized, after months of sorrow and pain she is thrust back into the world. The world of teenage angst and Calculus. Can she trust people again? Especially after hurtful assumptions and judgments made her miss her junior year of high school. Evelyn is just trying to heal what she lost and graduate from high school.
“Hey. You’re new right?” Brody asks me.
I assume he must be playing coy to get me to talk, because I know he saw me. Even if he didn’t see me it is pretty obvious I’m new, so I just nod and look straight ahead. Then I remember I should be trying and I say, “Yeah I am.” He looks different during the day. His skin looks like toasted almonds under the fluorescent lighting.
He’s about to say something when the teacher interrupts. “We have finished our first novel and we are moving on to Pan, by Knut Hamsun. Has anyone read this book before? It’s a brilliant piece I am overjoyed to share with you!”
Ms. Lange seems to think highly of this class if she wants us to read Pan. She looks like she keeps about ten cats, because she is covered head to toe in cat hair. Her hair is in a messy bun, only held together by bobby pins and a pencil. Or the pencil could just be for practical purposes. She almost seems magical, in a cat lady, overly eager kind of way, like she knows books are portals to magical worlds. Or she could just be bat-shit crazy.
“Anyone? Anyone?” she asks again. “How about you Brody? Would you like to contribute your thoughts on Pan?”
Most students don’t read books, they read the Sparknotes. He must be the star pupil. Now that I think about it, it did look like he was reading Pan. I look over at him slightly more interested in class. I didn’t know we were supposed to have read it yet. I read it last year for fun. He looks scruffy and his hair is long and lusciously curly—he belongs in a Pantene commercial. I can’t believe I am jealous of his hair, but it looks tremendously better than my hair.
“I thought he was an idiot for falling in love with Edvarda. She was a supernatural element in a natural environment. She didn’t belong. That’s why it ended how it did. He was tempted by the idea of love.”
“Is the idea of love, so harmful?” Ms. Lange asks him.
“No. Not the idea, the action of love,” he says, and I have to agree. I think the action was his undoing. Then again loving anyone is a mistake, especially when they leave us in the end.
“Good,” she says as she nods her head, “Good. Now I will pass copies around. We will discuss the elements and set up the characters.”
When the books reach me, I just pass it to the next student. Ms. Lange notices and calls me out. Why?! “Evelyn I see you didn’t grab a book, why not?” she asks me.
“I own a copy. I prefer mine. It has notes.” It hurts to talk. But she just nods and says, “Good”, and leaves me alone for the rest of the class. I sit there and think about love, the action of love. Losing her has left me empty inside. I miss her. I have to try for her. She would want me to be bold and engaging. But how can I be more? A new town, all these people, classes all over again, it doesn’t stop.