Title: The Lost Soul Atlas
Author: Zana Fraillon
Published: 14th July 2020
Synopsis: A powerful story of hope and friendship, from the author of The Bone Sparrow.
Loyalty is tested, and a cruel twist of fate leads to an act of ultimate betrayal in this epic story that spans a city, a decade, and the divide between life and death itself.
Twig is all alone after his dad goes missing. But when he meets Flea, a cheerful pickpocket, the pair become fast friends. Together, Twig and Flea raise themselves on the crime-ridden streets, taking what they need and giving the rest to the even-poorer. Life is good, as long as they have each other.
But then Twig wakes up in the Afterlife. With just a handful of vague memories, a key, a raven, and a mysterious atlas to guide him, he tries to piece together what happened, and to find his way home . . .
A powerful story of hope and friendship from the award-winning author of The Bone Sparrow.
Acclaim for Zana Fraillon’s THE BONE SPARROW:
2017 ABIA Book of the Year for Older Children
Winner, Readings Young Adult Book Prize 2017
CBCA Honour Book 2017 – Older Readers
Shortlisted for the 2017 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards
Shortlisted for the 2017 Queensland Literary Awards
Shortlisted for the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards
Shortlisted for The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2016
Shortlisted for the Gold Inky Award 2017
Shortlisted for the 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal
Carnegie Medal Amnesty CILIP Honour Book
Set in the Afterlife, and moving between life and death, The Lost Soul Atlas explores Twig’s journey through the Afterlife in search of his Da, but that’s not the only person he is trying to save. As the story moves along, it moves from the Afterlife to Twig’s life before he died, and the time he spent with his non-binary friend, Flea, whose journey is just as crucial as his journey.
Flea is represented as neither male nor female, but perhaps both whenever they feel it is right, in Flea’s own words. They are a well-crafted character who shines through as a brilliant example of loyalty as Twig embarks on a life without his Da, in a world that doesn’t necessarily wish kindness upon those at the fringe, and the way street kids are treated or ignored – and the impact this can have on them and their wellbeing.
It is a story that is gritty and realistic yet also has an ethereal and speculative feeling at times, with a humorous touch from a skeleton-raven guiding Twig through the Afterlife as he builds maps and a Lost Soul Atlas to not only find his way, but to find other lost souls to help them on their journey.
Zana’s book is tender and heartfelt. It came out amidst a barrage of lockdown and restrictions in July, and Zana was one of my Isolation Publicity participants. All posts will be linked in an upcoming blog post, with a few updates on how I have gone getting through the books I bought or was sent written by those who participated.
I’ve had this book on my shelf for a few months, whilst getting through a rather large and ever-growing pile of review books – the first 2021 books have started arriving and I am trying to get a start on those, so the reviews are ready to go for January. Zana’s book is touching and heartfelt, taking a look at a world not many of us really think about in our day-to-day lives. This world of street kids, of those who don’t have the security of home across the world is heartbreaking. It is one of those books that does need time taken to read, because it is compelling and at times, stepping away from the page to think about what is going on makes the delivery and the outcome of the book much more powerful.
I’m yet to read The Bone Sparrow, though it is on my shelf and I had hoped to read both this year. I am glad that read this book. It is thought-provoking and moving, and one of those books that should be studied in school, in universities and shared widely, and discussed. Zana has a talent at taking a topic that isn’t happy, and that people might not think about, and creates an in to talk about it in a sensitive and heartening way that stays with the reader in a powerful and moving way.