Author: Georgina Young
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Text Publishing
Published: 4th August 2020
Synopsis: Lona has dropped out of art school and no one is quite sure why, least of all Lona. It’s just that nothing in her life seems to make sense anymore, including art. She spends her days sneaking into the darkroom at her old school to develop photographs and her nights DJ-ing at the local roller disco.
Her aimlessness terrifies her, but everyone else appears oblivious to her fears: her parents are bewildered by her sudden lack of ambition, her brother is preoccupied with his new girlfriend, and her best friend Tab seems to be drifting away. Even a budding relationship with a bass-playing, cello-shredding med student isn’t enough to shake her existential angst.
Lona knows it’s up to her to figure out what she wants to do with her life: the problem is, she has absolutely no idea where to start.
Lona’s life is a paradox – she wants direction, yet she’s dropped out of art school, and between developing photographs and DJ-ing at the local roller disco, she has no direction and feels aimless. This aimlessness worries her, and leads her to take jobs and do things she never thought she would do – but they are the things she thinks she should do, that society tells her she should do. She feels adrift from her family, and her best friend Tab. Everyone feels distant apart from her Grandfather. She forms a bond with him through books and photography, and at times, this feels like it is the most open relationship she has throughout the book. Everyone else feels as though they are orbiting her, and peripherally there but at the same time, not really there.
Loner is about twenty. She’s not a teenager anymore, nor does she feel quite like an adult – which is how many people feel when they’re just out of high school and embarking on a new venture in life.
Each event in Lona’s life is separated into vignettes that are subtitled in relation to what happens. Some are merely a paragraph, if that, whilst others are a few pages – and each represents an introspective examination of what is going on in Lona’s life – purely from Lona’s introverted perspective. This allows the reader to get a good idea of who Lona is, but we’re less inclined to understand those around her. This is fine of course, as we are meant to learn about Lona and how she sees the world as she floats aimlessly – as she feels – through a young adult life where everyone else seems to be coping with their choices and society’s expectations.
Lona also at several points openly eschews what society dictates is right for someone her age and gender – a young woman aged about twenty, or twenty-one. She doesn’t care what people think yet at the same time she does – which is where the paradox of who Lona is comes in. It is almost as though she is not yet certain who she truly is yet, and through experimentation and exploration, is starting to find out. Her artistic side comes out in vibrant and unique ways to the character, and the exploration of photography and dark rooms, of rolls of film in contrast to digital shows that sometimes, instant isn’t better. That sometimes, when you develop an old roll of film, you find gems you didn’t know existed.
Perhaps that is what this is – a gem that people in their twenties and thirties, who are at a crossroads in their lives. Much like we all are now, with the pandemic and what it may mean for the future of work, and other aspects of our lives. What will we keep from the past year, and what will leave? What will change and what will remain the same? Everything has changed for us just as it does for Lona throughout the book, and as she grows and changes, the reader does too, and perhaps we all realise that we never really grow up as society and that in some ways, though we can be surrounded by people, we are at times, left feeling very alone.