“The distance between lost and found” is a story about three youngsters getting lost for five days in their hiking trip. While fighting for their survival, they discover themselves and form a bond as their stories start unfolding. By showing the audiences the mental and physical struggles that each of these youngsters had gone through, the book depicts how miscommunication, assumptions and social pressures can destroy a person.
Hallelujah used to sing a lot. Holmes writes “singing used to be her life…Music used to burst from her. She couldn’t contain it” (4). However, “she doesn’t sing anymore. She can barely stand to listen” (4). All it takes for Hallelujah to polarize completely is a moment when she got caught with Luke, a popular boy, and people start to believe his side of the story. By not speaking about what happened on that night, Hallelujah has missed every opportunity she was afforded to make things right. The author has done a marvelous job building Hallelujah’s character. The self-pity cycle of being too shy to speak, starting blaming others for not understanding, seeing things getting worse, realizing it is too late and then deciding to shut herself even more, keeps repeating within Hallelujah. She is vulnerable. She is scared. The further things are out of Hallelujah’s control, the sturdier the wall she made to distance herself with others.
I used to be Hallelujah. I used to blame others for not understanding me without giving them a chance to do so. I have cried a lot, asking why this world is being unfair to me, not realizing I was the one who was unfair to others. Similar to what Hallelujah has done with Sarah and Rachel, I was rude to the people that only want to help. All I thought about is how miserable I was, and how insensitive they were to my pain. I did not want it to be easy. I wanted it to be hard. I wanted to see me suffered, to show the world that how bad they were. Like Hallelujah, I started doubting my identity and went off-course to punish myself. After beating myself times to times, I start regaining my sanity by realizing that I should not handle everything alone, and I should ask for help without feeling shameful about it.
In the book, Hallelujah does not have any chance to reach that self-realization. Everyone continuously attacks her, including whom she considers her dearest. Hallelujah’s character represents a group of adolescents in our society who are introvert, vulnerable, inexperienced, and socially anxious. Like Hallelujah, they need help, but they are too shy and unwilling to accept it. Once they arrive at the self-pity cycle, everything is getting worse and worse “Out of control. I didn’t know how to defend myself. What to say” (161). Hallelujah’s story also represents how rude and cruel people can be with ignorance. None of her friends realize the toll the group isolation takes on her, how much she has changed over the year, and especially the magnitude of cruelty in their act. Intentionally or not, they push Hallelujah deeper into her throes and deny all of her efforts trying to escape “I can’t stand to have people looking at me. Laughing at me. That’s why I quit” (201).
Jonah, one of Hallelujah’s best childhood friend, is one of the major reasons that Hallelujah’s life was extremely miserable. He not only remains silent about what happened but also distance himself from Hallelujah since that incident. He thinks she is a slut and “by ignoring you, by staying mad at you, I could make it go away” (167). Because of Jonah’s assumption about Hallelujah’s character, both suffer a lot. Jonah’s actions illustrate how a good person can hurt who he loves by making his assumptions without confirmation. Like Hallelujah, Jonah is too afraid. He is too scared to hear the truth. He does not want to confront Hallelujah, to learn what happened. Thus, Jonah chooses to believe in his theory and distances himself about the cause of his pain. Jonah, in a way, is Hallelujah. Both do not have the courage to confront the truth. Both are insecure. To Hallelujah, it is about the fact that she brought herself to Luke. To Jonah, it is about the fact that Hallelujah chose Luke over him. Silence is what they choose, and it is what tear their lives apart.
I used to be Hallelujah. I used to be Jonah. I used to choose silence. It does not work. It is futile. However, people like me do not have to go through hell like what Hallelujah, Jonah and myself have experienced. I believe by emphasizing the importance of listening and sympathizing, we could reduce the suffering that people are causing to each other.
Holmes, Kathryn. The distance between lost and found. Harper Collins Publishers, 2015