Book Review: I Have Lost My Way

i have lost my way

Photo by the writer

“They maybe complete strangers, with different lives and different problems, but there in that examination room they are measuring sadness the same way. They are measuring it in loss.”

The excerpt is taken from Gayle Forman’s latest novel ‘I have lost my way’. The novel is about friendships, taking chances and transforming your loss into your gain.

Has it ever happened with you that you are lost? By lost I don’t mean you lose your way to home; what I mean is that you are lost, you are at crossroads where you don’t know where to go from here. You are standing at the tipping point and you need a clue or hint from anyone any where so that you can find your pathway.

The story revolves around three young adults, Freya, Nathaniel and Harun, who have never met, find themselves in the same spot, connected to one accident in a park in New York City.  Even though they belong  from different backgrounds, different families and different lives; the only link that join them together is the quest for their identity and be content with who they are.

Freya, an up-and-coming singer, is hurt because she has lost her voice. She didn’t know what to do because this is the only thing she is good at. Harun has lost the love of his life. Nathaniel has lost the most important person to him, his father.

What is the instant connection is that all three are going through the grief in their lives. But there is also sense of fear in all of them. Freya is scared that what if she can never sing and she may lose her fans which she gains in a short time period. Harun is devoted to his family but feels the need to run away to be who he truly is, and Nathaniel has lived his whole life alone with his (mentally unstable) father who due to overdosing lost his life. He is here in New York all alone with a secret which I cannot share as it will reveal the end of the story.

The story takes place over the course of one day and is broken up with flashbacks that reveal how three teenagers have all lost something important to them. All three meet by coincidence, but they understand each other so well. And in a one day span, they have become each other’s strength; and a lighting guide for each other to help find their lost path.

I also like the diversity in the characters. Freya is a half-Ethiopian girl who has a complex relationship with her older sister, Sabrina. Harun, a Pakistani boy, is figuring out how to reconcile his sexuality with his family’s religion. He’s expected to marry a Muslim girl, but Harun is hopelessly in love with his ex-boyfriend, James. Nathaniel is blind in one eye and struggling with depression after his father’s death. All his life, Nathaniel has coped with his father’s strange childlike tendencies: his inability to live in reality and his insistence that they are a ‘fellowship of two like Frodo and Sam’ in The Lord of the Rings.

I finished this novel in two sittings and though it is slow at the start, it gains its pace after few pages. This is the first time I have read Gayle Forman and I would say she writes very well. Forman has touched on human emotion and connection; her writing is lyrical and riveting which keeps one hooked to the novel till the last page. Although this story targets young adults, I am sure young minds will love this novel and probably few adults like me as well.

I will rate this novel 3.5/5.

 

 

 

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Death of Mary Rogers Reflects the State of New York

Rogers’ death showed the nature of the city in those times. It was a mysterious death; many speculations rose during the investigation process. Rogers was an urban woman and her story opened up the culture of America

Mary Rogers–Cigar Girl

where many women were making their living due to increased urbanization.  During nineteenth century, women were considered to be a part of homes only though as the panic times knocked the door, women also started earning their own living.  Moreover her death gave new definition to the press as well as the Legislature system that made them to reform their laws.

The death of Mary Rogers depicted the state of the city during mid-nineteenth century; a gateway to the urban culture in antebellum America. Rogers was also known as ‘Beautiful Cigar Girl’. Rogers’ beauty was the sole reason of her many admirers belonging to the fraternity of journalism and politicians. She worked at the Cigar Shop as in those times most beautiful girls were usually hired to attract the customers. During the summer of 1841, she got disappeared from her boarding house and three days later found dead at the Hudson River.  It was a mysterious death because the investigation was not fruitful and many suspicions were raised.

In the past two and a half centuries, New York has witnessed several tragedies and social changes that affected the behavior of people which in turn lead to murders. One such mysterious murder was of Mary Rogers known as Cigar Girl; she disappeared in the summer of 1841 from New York City boardinghouse run by her mother Phebe. Three days later, her bruised and waterlogged body was found at the Hudson River near the shore of New Jersey. Her death created the hype in the early 19th century; change was witnessed not only in the field of media and literature even the laws were reformed.

Background

 

Mary Rogers

Maria Rogers born in 1820; came to New York in the panic year 1837 from Connecticut after which she took job in 1838 in one of the famous Cigar owned by John Anderson known as Anderson’s Tobacco Emporium.  Cigar girls were chosen for their beauty and Rogers was considered one of amazingly beautiful lady; soon her charm worked on the young men as we ll. She used to sell cigars and tobacco where her customers included famous personalities like Edgar Allen Poe, James Fenimore Cooper and Washington Irving as well.  Rogers’ popularity with the press was one of the reasons that stirred the media.

Rogers Death and Media

The death of Mary Rogers gave new life to the circulation of penny press in 1840; a tabloid that turned the news into sensational event.  Many newspapers and reporters gave theories that surrounded Roger’s death. The way of reporting homicide completely changed and every clue was taken into consideration.  Moreover, the newspapers raised many stories regarding her death which included abortion, gang rape and even suicide. The press also signified the fear of increased lawlessness in the city as well as the need of reformed police groups because police made no headway in her case; media also highlighted tightening control of abortions; although this case was never resolved instead the newspapers increased their readership among working-women and men.

Society in Mid 19TH Century in the light of Rogers Death

In the 19th century, the society was not liberal to the idea of independent women; however the increase of commerce, print and industry in the city changed the role of urban women.  Rogers’s case is the window to an urban culture; it was the depiction of the emerging urban women who took advantage of the economic opportunity in those times whereas her death raised the voice for the mid-nineteenth century concerns over sexual license, law and order situation, abortions and changing role of women.

Crime increases with the widespread increase in the urbanization during mid-nineteenth century. The investigation process of Roger’s death showed inefficiency of the police due to which reformed New York police department was established as well as the city was divided into three districts having their own courts, magistrates and clerks. There were two legislation that also passed as a result of her death; one was New York Police Reform Act that upgraded the policing system and second was the New York State Act that criminalized the abortion.

The death of Mary Rogers was a sensational event for the penny press as well as for the New York City. Her death gave the popular journalism and the crime reports the central space in the urban press.  The investigative reporting was introduced and the growing industry of press and printing gave rise to detective stories, graphic illustration and series novels.

Besides creating sensationalism by the press, Mary roger’s death phenomena also showed the culture of urban commercialism due to introduction of more working women in a society. Moving from an individual towards society as a whole the concept of new female identity became a combination of public visibility and social isolation. Women lived alone without protection because of their jobs for which the society was not prepared yet.

Moreover, independency of women also increases vulnerability to male desire and lack of social order during nineteenth century; Rogers’ Death was an open eye to the fear of lawlessness prevailing during those times which needed a tighter control and it happened after her death where the police system and abortion became the points of legislature system.

CONCLUSION

Her death is an enigma; the case never got solved and many stories generated because there was not much information regarding Mary. However her death stirred the New York City and it also tells about the cultural aspect of the society during those times.

Rogers’ death was a reflection of the society towards women during mid-nineteenth century; the society was in changing phase in terms of economic growth as well as role of women. Furthermore, new notion of female autonomy leads to urban commercialism.  These independent women needed protection which was not given by the police; therefore Rogers’ death became a touchstone to tighten the laws in order to protect the women.