I probably wouldn’t have bought Kevin Wignall’s When We Were Lost if I’d noticed it was a young adult novel. (Young adult novels are too mature for me, emotionally speaking.) But it was Wignall so I snapped it up, and I’m not sorry I did. It was an enjoyable story, easily appreciable by an adult. Or even by me.
The setup is nice. Tom Calloway is a high school junior and an outsider. Orphaned young and raised by an eccentric, uninvolved aunt, he’s generally walled himself off from his peers. So when he gets maneuvered into taking a class “environmental” trip to Costa Rica, he’s not enthusiastic. He doesn’t expect anything good to happen.
What happens is far worse than he expects – and in surprising ways, better. Their plane goes far off course and crashes in the jungle, killing most of the passengers except for a few rows at the back of the plane – Tom and some classmates.
One of the other boys assumes leadership, and it gradually becomes apparent to Tom – and to some other social outcasts who happen to know about the real world – that the guy is way over his head and leading them into disaster. Through the challenges that will face them as they try to find their way back to civilization, Tom will make hard choices, grow as a person, discover his own leadership, and find relationships he never imagined he could have.
When We Were Lost is a pretty cool story, with a lot of good life lessons for young people (my only caution for Christian parents is that they take time at one point to make pitch for gay rights). Recommended.