Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz
Genre: YA | Diversity: gay+interracial | My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
It’s a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives.
Craig’s crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him…and if he’ll do it again…and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody.
Lio feels most alive when he’s with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable…and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.
–the Goodreads Blurb
Gone, Gone, Gone is one of those books that will break your heart and then put it back together again, all in the span of 250 pages. This gay romance follows two fifteen-year-olds as they struggle to come to terms with the random violence of the post-9/11 sniper attacks in the D.C. area.
authentic teen voice that’s intensely quotable
This is my first Hannah Moskowitz book and I was not disappointed. Gone, Gone, Gone is deceptively quiet. Both Craig and Lio’s voices are authentically teen, yet they still manage to say some really profound stuff that made me stop and go “damn. That was good.”
Both boys recognize how young they are in relation to the rest of the world, but they refuse to behave as though their experiences and emotions are somehow less real and valid than everyone else’s—which was so refreshing to read. This book reminded me of how I felt at 15: like no one took me seriously but me. I honestly think this book would be great for reluctant readers, because it’s incredibly readable and validating.
revisiting recent history: post-9/11
I was really intrigued by the fact that this story takes place in 2002, during the post-9/11 D.C. sniper era. It’s not something I knew a whole lot about, but I was 12 that year, so I remember the intense feelings of fear and confusion that permeated the whole nation.
Both Craig and Lio are dealing with the loss of their invulnerability in different ways. They’re scared that they might be shot next, while refusing to admit that as a possibility. How do you adjust to the understanding that you’re not even safe in your own school? It raises a lot of interesting questions, and the events tie in so well with the rest of the story.
grief & raw mental health talk
When it comes down to it, this is a book about grief: Lio’s grief over losing his twin brother to leukemia, while Craig’s dealing with the messy sort-of break-up with his first love. What I especially loved about this arc is that it isn’t neat and tied up in a bow. Grief is messy. Mental health issues in general are messy. You don’t “get over it,” you work through and around it, and that’s what we see both characters doing.
I do feel I should note this: both Craig and Lio refer to themselves as “a little bit fucked up” and “crazy” at multiple points. I have depression, but I didn’t find this triggering or particularly ableist, and I want to explain why I think that is. There’s a huge difference between a character calling someone else “crazy” and a character referencing their own mental health issues. Aside from that, the usage of these terms made sense to me because I called myself “crazy” when I was 15 (before I was even diagnosed with depression.
I really appreciated the portrayal of Lio’s therapist as well. She manages to give solid advice and validate Lio’s feelings without being cliched or condescending. I love seeing positive therapy rep, especially in YA books. I also appreciated that Lio has been in therapy for seven years—because that is reality for a lot of us struggling with our mental health, and it’s 100% okay.
interracial romance with one of my favorite tropes ever
And finally, let’s talk about Craig and Lio. Watching their relationship develop over the course of this book was so enjoyable. It’s awkward and messy, and sometimes I just wanted to scream at them to just talk about it already! That’s part of what made their relationship so real. They’re both dealing with serious issues, so it would’ve been unrealistic for them to just jump into things without talking about it.
Which, as it happens, is one of my favorite tropes: the We Can’t Be Together Even Though We Want To. Why is this my favorite? Because it’s frustrating and real. When we’re dealing with mental health stuff, it’s inadvisable to jump into a romantic relationship with someone without first asking ourselves if it’s the best idea, both for us and for the other person. Even though Craig and Lio are young and they so love each other, they have to deal with their issues. The way their relationship unfolds is so natural and beautiful.
This book will absolutely break your heart, but rest assured that it will put it back together again. Gone, Gone, Gone is a great choice for Pride Month—it’s highly readable, accessible, and doesn’t focus solely on coming out. Both Craig and Lio are adorable and huggable and pretty much my new besties—and I’m sure they’ll be yours too!
I would like to thank Miriam’s Yummy Books for hosting the Hannah Moskowitz Readathon on Twitter, which is what sparked me picking up this book.
Have you read Gone, Gone, Gone or any of HM’s other books? What’s your favorite? Let’s
flail talk in the comments!