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The Art of Losing
Cover of The Art of Losing
The Art of Losing
Borrow Borrow
The Art of Losing is a compelling debut that explores issues of addiction, sisterhood, and loss.
On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston's life changes forever. At a party she discovers her boyfriend, Mike, hooking up with her younger sister, Audrey. Furious, she abandons them both. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma. Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain and the undeniable truth that her now ex-boyfriend has a drinking problem. So it's a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who's recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons. At first Harley doesn't want to get too close to him. But as her sister slowly recovers, Harley begins to see a path forward with Raf's help that she never would have believed possible—one guided by honesty, forgiveness, and redemption.
The Art of Losing is a compelling debut that explores issues of addiction, sisterhood, and loss.
On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston's life changes forever. At a party she discovers her boyfriend, Mike, hooking up with her younger sister, Audrey. Furious, she abandons them both. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma. Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain and the undeniable truth that her now ex-boyfriend has a drinking problem. So it's a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who's recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons. At first Harley doesn't want to get too close to him. But as her sister slowly recovers, Harley begins to see a path forward with Raf's help that she never would have believed possible—one guided by honesty, forgiveness, and redemption.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book Sixteen Months Ago
    When my little sister started high school, my family held its breath. With her late birthday, Audrey was always one of the youngest kids in her class. Her maturity level was never quite the same as that of her classmates.
    But she had an unnerving ability to assume the best of people. It was annoying, really, the way she looked past people's outwardly obnoxious traits and found the good in them. I'd be bitching about someone, a teacher or a neighbor or whoever, and Audrey always, infuriatingly, had to point out something nice about them.
    So none of us were surprised when she declared that she'd made valentines for all of her classmates in the ninth grade. But we were worried. I could practically hear the comments some of the girls would make. I could imagine the assumptions many of the guys would make. But Audrey wouldn't be deterred, no matter what I said.
    "She's in high school now," Mom finally said to Dad and me while Audrey was upstairs gluing and cutting. "She can make her own decisions and deal with the consequences."
    Dad and I disagreed.
    "What if instead of cards, she gave out lattes?" Dad said, waiting expectantly.
    Mom and I shared an eye roll and then she dutifully asked,
    "Why?"
    "Because then they'd know she likes them a latte!"
    I groaned. His puns made even Obama's "dad jokes" seem funny.
    I think Mom had as much faith in the valentines as I did, but as usual, she pasted on a smile and busied herself with a crossword puzzle.
    On Valentine's Day, I watched from my locker as Audrey passed out her cards. And, to be fair, they were pretty adorable, despite the glitter that showered down on her shoes with each one she pulled out of her backpack. She slipped some in people's lockers, and others she handed to the recipient directly.
    People loved them, and not just her friends. I was stunned. If I'd done something like this, my classmates would have thought I was trying too hard or sucking up. But no one could accuse Audrey of being disingenuous. Her smile was too sincere, her delight in their reactions too contagious.
    But I saw the nervousness on her face when she pulled out a slightly larger heart-shaped card that was more intricately decorated than the others. I watched as she slid it through the slats into a locker not far from mine. I'd never noticed who the locker belonged to, so I lingered for a little while before the first bell rang, hoping to catch a glimpse, wondering if all the other valentines were just to distract from the one person she really wanted to give one to.
    My jaw went slack when Jason Raymond opened the locker and the heart-shaped card fell out and landed at his feet. He was a freshman who had been in my class the year before but was held back. When he smiled at the card, I couldn't help noticing the stubble on his chin. He was practically a man. Audrey had only quit sleeping with her favorite stuffed animal a year ago.
    It felt like my sisterly duty to protect her.
    So when Audrey told us about her crush matter-of-factly at dinner that night—something that I would never have even considered doing—I wasn't surprised. I was ready with about ten reasons why Jason was the wrong choice for her first date.
    "He's so dumb," I interrupted her mid-sentence. "He got held back last year! You can't go out with a guy who's my age and still a freshman. That's just embarrassing."
    Audrey's face turned red. Her eyes were glassy with rage.
    ...
About the Author-
  • Lizzy Mason grew up in northern Virginia before moving to New York City for college and a career in publishing. She lives in Queens, New York, with her husband and cat in an apartment full of books. The Art of Losing is her first novel. Visit her online at www.LizzyMasonBooks.com.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    December 1, 2018
    After opening the door to a locked room at a drunken party and seeing something not meant for her to see, events are set in motion that change Harley's life--and those of her sister and boyfriend--forever.The next morning, Audrey, Harley's younger sister, is in a coma, fighting for her life. Harley's boyfriend, Mike, is responsible for the drunken driving accident that put her there. Harley is consumed by both guilt and rage but also immersed in the tedium of hospital life, waiting for any signs of improvement. Over the years she's witnessed Mike's drinking become more and more reckless, culminating in the betrayal that prompted her to leave the party without her sister by her side. In chapters that alternate between the present and scenes from the past, Harley explores her relationships with Audrey, Mike, and Rafael, the childhood friend she reconnects with after the accident. They bond through late-night cigarette breaks, an affinity for comics, and a shared understanding of tragedy. Rafael, Latinx, has also faced substance abuse issues, and his growing self-awareness and commitment to sobriety stand out in stark contrast to Mike's denial and insecurity. Driven by authentic and well-developed characters and relationships, this work presents a compelling exploration of responsibility and forgiveness. Harley and her family and boyfriend are assumed white.A relevant and engaging coming-of-age novel that highlights the accountability that comes with adulthood. (author's note/resources) (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    February 1, 2019

    Gr 9 Up-This debut novel opens with a punch to the gut: Harley's sister Audrey lies in a coma after a life-threatening car accident. The driver is Harley's drunk boyfriend. The accident occurs immediately after Harley finds the pair making out. What could easily read as over-the-top melodrama, in Mason's hands, reads as a moving exploration of addiction, relationships, and forgiveness. Harley's story unfolds within insets of memories that provide context: red flag moments with her often drunk and sometimes cruel boyfriend, and tender moments with Audrey that provide a voice for the comatose sister. As Harley struggles with absolving Audrey (and her own guilt) and severing ties with her alcoholic boyfriend, she rekindles a long-simmering romance with Raf, the boy next door. Raf also suffers from addiction; he turned to alcohol and drugs after losing his sister to leukemia. While it seems that a small handful of families suffer from such addiction and sadness, readers will forgive the small contrivances. Portrayed with affectionate insight, Harley's middle class, two-parent family navigates life's struggles the best they can, albeit imperfectly. No tidy ending is offered, yet Harley's story ends on a grounded, hopeful note. Mason's first novel portends a truly skillful writer and readers will look forward to her next book. VERDICT A strong choice for most YA shelves.-Laura Falli, McNeil High School, Austin, TX

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Susan Dennard, New York Times bestselling author of Truthwitch "With prose that taps into the highest of highs and lowest of lows, The Art of Losingshows exactly what it means to have a sister, to be sister, and--the scariest of all--to possibly lose a sister. As a big sister myself, this story rang so true."
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Lizzy Mason
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