Category Archives: We Are Lost and Found

Review: We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar

Title: We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Historical (80s), LGBT, Young Adult
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A poignant, heartbreaking, and uplifting, story in the tradition of The Perks of Being a Wallflowerabout three friends coming-of-age in the early 1980s as they struggle to forge their own paths in the face of fear of the unknown.

Michael is content to live in the shadow of his best friends, James and Becky. Plus, his brother, Connor, has already been kicked out of the house for being gay and laying low seems to be Michael’s only chance at avoiding the same fate.

To pass the time before graduation, Michael hangs out at The Echo where he can dance and forget about his father’s angry words, the pressures of school, and the looming threat of AIDS, a disease that everyone is talking about, but no one understands.

Then he meets Gabriel, a boy who actually sees him. A boy who, unlike seemingly everyone else in New York City, is interested in him and not James. And Michael has to decide what he’s willing to risk to be himself.


Set in New York during 1983, We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar is a poignant young adult novel set against the backdrop of the beginning of the AIDS crisis.

Sixteen year old Michael Bartolomeo is navigating his life with best friends James Barrows and Becky Kaplan.  He is gay but considering his parents kicked out his older brother Connor after he came out, Michael is struggling to remain in the closet. He escapes the pressures of his home life through music and evenings dancing at The Echo.  Michael is also quite close to James, who is making his mark in the theatre world and Becky who lives on tenterhooks due to her mother’s drug use. Michael’s budding romance with Gabriel takes place at the start of the  AIDS epidemic.  With little information available about how to protect himself against this frightening disease, will Michael be willing to jump into a relationship with Gabriel?

Michael is an interesting narrator but the lack of quotation marks and the abrupt scene changes between the vignettes makes it difficult to connect to him and the unfolding story. The story does not really come together until well after the halfway point as Michael truly understands the realities of being gay during a deadly health epidemic. His brother Connor’s reckless and risky decisions also serve as a cautionary tale as Michael begins to fall in love with Gabriel.

We Are Lost and Found is a thought-provoking young adult novel with an interesting storyline. The plot is well-researched, quite informative and offers a realistic portrait of coming to age at such a fraught time period.  While the writing style might work not for everyone, this young adult novel by Helene Dunbar highlights a compelling and important part of LGBT history.

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Filed under Helene Dunbar, Historical, Historical (80s), LGBT, Rated C, Review, Sourcebooks Fire, We Are Lost and Found, Young Adult