Six Degrees of Lost, by Linda Benson, follows Olive as she moves to a new state away from her mother and brother. She is lost without them, but for most of this book it seems like all the characters are lost. Olive’s new friend David isn’t as close to his parents as he once was, and his brothers are away. Olive longs for her mother, and enhances the memories so that it seems their life was perfect. Aunt Trudy is alone and battling illness. The yellow stray dog flits in and out as a more obvious symbol of being lost. Even the abandoned puppies are adrift without a place.
The two central characters, Olive and David, have very different families yet are experiencing much of the same angst in growing up. Benson presents them as very normal teens with warm and wonderful traits as well as flaws. It makes them very relatable to young readers. At one point David and his friends interrupt a raft trip to take shelter from the rain in a barn, and they light a cigarette. The scene reminded me of every time during my teen years that I followed my friends in doing something stupid. Teens are all about doing what their friends are doing, and this pivotal scene will resonate well with them. Olivia, as the story goes on, builds up in her mind memories of a loving relationship with her mother that are dashed by reality. Many teens look at their world through rose-colored glasses and have experienced such rude awakenings, so again young readers will empathize with Olivia.
Although it was a minor subplot to the book, I enjoyed the dogs. Aunt Trudy is quite the animal lover, and takes in the box of abandoned puppies. As I read this book, my own eight week old yellow Labrador puppies played at my feet. How could I not want to jump into the pages of the novel and adopt those pups?
Benson hooks her reader into each of these lost souls and weaves a story around them that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming as she ties them all together. Great book to remind readers of all ages there is somebody out there for everybody.