Luis and Sutton have nothing in common. Sutton is a coding whiz. Luis devours fantasy films and graphic novels. They wouldn’t like each other much if they happened to meet. But both Luis and Sutton find their comfort zones under attack in Joy McCullough’s debut middle grade novel, A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Luis’s mom and Sutton’s dad are dating, and things are getting serious. Naturally, the grown-ups want the kids to meet.
The first forced gathering is a total disaster; Sutton and Luis don’t click at all. Undeterred, their parents arrange another outing, a hike in Discovery Park. The day takes a frightening turn when Luis and Sutton enter an opening in the underbrush, assuming the tunnel will bring them back to the trail. Instead, they get lost for hours. Their only way out of the situation is to step up and help each other through it.
Author McCullough (Blood Water Paint) has her finger firmly on the pulse of what makes her characters tick. Luis and Sutton are well-drawn, with strong and equally appealing perspectives. Rather than encouraging readers to take sides, McCullough cleverly and subtly urges them to root for Luis and Sutton to find common ground and work together. A Field Guide to Getting Lost is a warmhearted manual for thinking outside the box, persevering through tough circumstances and reaching out for help along the way.