Two things I can count on when I read a novel by Katie Ganshert: deeply developed characters and gut-wrenching conflict. The Art of Losing Yourself has the former in half-sisters Carmen and Gracie, who are unexpectedly “reunited” when 17-year-old Gracie runs away from home to find refuge in the only place that brought her joy. And it’s full of the latter. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program.)
One of Ganshert’s strengths in her books is addressing issues that are neither simple nor sweet. (Her previous books have contained themes of grief, widowhood, and brokenness.) In this book, Gracie has an alcoholic mother and has basically raised herself for a lot of years. She’s a troubled teen who doesn’t always make the best decisions. And Carmen, though her life looks outwardly perfect, has suffered infertility and her marriage is breaking because of it. There are deep emotions from both of these women, scenes where I could almost hear the shouting and ones that left me in tears because of the words that weren’t said.
Ganshert writes this book from the first-person point of view of both characters, which was a hard shift for my brain to make sometimes but I still enjoyed the perspective. I loved the dialogue between characters and the turns of phrase Ganshert uses to describe feelings and situations. Gracie’s POV was believable for a teenager, and Carmen’s was accurate for a woman whose outward appearance is a mask for her inward turmoil.
It’s the kind of complex story I’ve come to appreciate from Ganshert. Not a straight-up romance full of fluff but a book about all kinds of relationships: with God, others and self.
If you’ve known the devastation of infertility, you might be able to relate to Carmen’s character, but if the wounds are still fresh, maybe save this one for another time.