Lose You To Find Me by Erik J. Brown

Lose You to Find Me is a young adult novel about a seventeen-year-old boy with a job as a server in a retirement community who is trying to get into a top culinary school, but gets distracted by the reappearance of his childhood crush. Tommy desperately wants to go to the culinary school that his dad went to, as cooking was the thing they bonded over before his dad passed away, but to do that, he needs a recommendation letter from his tough boss, Natalie. She wants him to train up the new server, Gabe, who Tommy knew as a child over one summer and then never saw again. As Tommy is distracted by Gabe, who he know realises was his first crush, will he be able to balance everything and work out what he is doing after graduation?

I was interested in this book as I enjoyed Brown’s previous YA novel, All That’s Left in the World, though this is a very different book to that one, with more of a focus on romance and getting into college than the apocalypse. What makes this book stand out, however, is the plotline, and the way in which it offers a more compelling story than many queer YA romances. Though I guessed where the book would end up, I also hoped that would be the case, as the narrative gave the characters space to make mistakes, change their mind, and see that decisions you made when you’re a child don’t have to be lasting ones, especially around your future.

The retirement community element is a highlight, with a large cast of fun characters appearing and a sense of community amongst staff and residents that, despite Tommy’s drama whilst working there, is a rosy look at the job. In general, there’s also lots of friendship (and Tommy’s surrogate queer grandparents amongst the residents) in the book alongside the romance and it has that feel good, people are there for you sense that lots of people like in YA fiction.

I’m not the target audience for this book, but I enjoyed the narrative, especially where the romance plot went, and the focus on, as the title suggests, finding yourself and letting your dreams change with you.