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Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Essence McKree feels older than any seventeen-year-old she knows. Ever since weed was legalized, Mom has been working in a pot shop, high more often than not. Lately it’s been up to Essa to care for her nine-year-old sister, Puck. When Essa meets Oliver—a brainy indoor type, in town for the summer—she is cautious at first, distrustful o Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Essence McKree feels older than any seventeen-year-old she knows. Ever since weed was legalized, Mom has been working in a pot shop, high more often than not. Lately it’s been up to Essa to care for her nine-year-old sister, Puck. When Essa meets Oliver—a brainy indoor type, in town for the summer—she is cautious at first, distrustful of the tourist crowd and suspicious of Oliver’s mysterious past in Chicago. But Puck is charmed and pushes Essa toward him. Soon Essa finds herself showing Oliver the Boulder she has forgotten: the mountain parties, the long hikes…and at Oliver’s urging, the exploration of Buddhism at the local zendo. When Oliver agrees to accompany Essa on a three-day survival game in the Rocky Mountains, she feels a lightness she hasn’t known in a long time. Then she discovers that Puck has stowed away and followed them into the wilderness. After spending a night stuck in a mountain storm, Essa wakes to find Puck missing. Now Essa must rely on her newfound spiritual strength if she is to save her sister’s life, and ultimately her own.


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Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Essence McKree feels older than any seventeen-year-old she knows. Ever since weed was legalized, Mom has been working in a pot shop, high more often than not. Lately it’s been up to Essa to care for her nine-year-old sister, Puck. When Essa meets Oliver—a brainy indoor type, in town for the summer—she is cautious at first, distrustful o Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Essence McKree feels older than any seventeen-year-old she knows. Ever since weed was legalized, Mom has been working in a pot shop, high more often than not. Lately it’s been up to Essa to care for her nine-year-old sister, Puck. When Essa meets Oliver—a brainy indoor type, in town for the summer—she is cautious at first, distrustful of the tourist crowd and suspicious of Oliver’s mysterious past in Chicago. But Puck is charmed and pushes Essa toward him. Soon Essa finds herself showing Oliver the Boulder she has forgotten: the mountain parties, the long hikes…and at Oliver’s urging, the exploration of Buddhism at the local zendo. When Oliver agrees to accompany Essa on a three-day survival game in the Rocky Mountains, she feels a lightness she hasn’t known in a long time. Then she discovers that Puck has stowed away and followed them into the wilderness. After spending a night stuck in a mountain storm, Essa wakes to find Puck missing. Now Essa must rely on her newfound spiritual strength if she is to save her sister’s life, and ultimately her own.

30 review for Zen and Gone

  1. 5 out of 5

    Teenreadsdotcom

    Emily France’s sophomore novel, ZEN AND GONE, is a multi-perspective story that looks to explore the relations we share with each other and the world around us. At 17 years old, Essence McKree has learned to become a mother figure to her younger sister, Puck. With weed legalized in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado, Essence’s mother spends much of her time high, obtaining marijuana from the pot shop where she works. This reality forces Essa to live a very strict lifestyle --- no drinking, no dru Emily France’s sophomore novel, ZEN AND GONE, is a multi-perspective story that looks to explore the relations we share with each other and the world around us. At 17 years old, Essence McKree has learned to become a mother figure to her younger sister, Puck. With weed legalized in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado, Essence’s mother spends much of her time high, obtaining marijuana from the pot shop where she works. This reality forces Essa to live a very strict lifestyle --- no drinking, no drugs and certainly no dating --- until Oliver from Chicago shows up in Boulder for the summer. In order to introduce Oliver to life in her small town, Essa takes him along on a three-day survival game in the Rocky Mountains. To Essa’s horror, Puck has stowed away and joined them on their adventure. After spending the night in the mountains stuck in a storm, Essa awakes to realize that Puck is missing. It is now up to her to find her sister and save her life. I absolutely adore Emily France’s novels because they look to discuss topics unexplored within the young adult genre in a fascinating and unique manner. ZEN and GONE dives deeply into the culture and spirituality of Buddhism, which plays prominently into the development of Essence’s character. I love the way that France uses key tenets of Buddhism to tie into the overall plot of the story and the key message she wants to send to the audience. Although I cannot speak to its representation because I have very little prior knowledge on the subject, I found it incredibly fascinating to find out about certain facets of the religion and culture of Buddhism. I feel that there is the stereotype of modern Buddhists being very hippy and far gone, which causes the actual culture to be easily judged or overlooked. By reading this novel, I had a new appreciation for Buddhism. France explores the manner in which Buddhism and its customs tie together Essence and Puck. The two characters share a deep connection because of their Buddhist faith. In examining that depiction, I hope that this novel will allow readers to be able to have a new perspective on the topic. The usage of marijuana also factors deeply into the plotline, as many of the people Essence surround herself with use the substance. Initially, I was really nervous to see how the drug would factor into the narrative that France wanted to craft. By the end of the story, I was thoroughly pleased with the direction that she took. France makes it clear to the audience that marijuana usage did not solve any of the character’s problems, but rather made them worse. Drug usage is a very serious topic. Many young adult novels fail to address their harmful consequences or even fall into the trope of making drug usage appear “cool.” France uses ZEN AND GONE to break those stereotypes and present an honest depiction of drug usage in society, exploring how it damages the relationships users have with their loved ones. I found it so fascinating to see the parallels in Oliver’s and Essa’s character arcs in this story despite their inherent differences. Oliver comes from a big city, which makes his visit to Boulder initially jarring. He has to adjust to living in a small town that is very different from his own. He appears pompous to Essa when they first meet because of his initial shock at taking in the culture of Boulder. As a fellow Chicagoan, I can completely understand where Oliver is coming from and would likely have a similar reaction myself. Even though their first meeting is rather awkward, Essa and Oliver start to bond over their mutual care and concern for their sisters. Essa feels a responsibility to be a parental figure to her nine-year-old sister. Oliver feels a need to placate his older sister who suffers from schizophrenia. Both Oliver and Essa have this compulsion to be there for their siblings even if it means putting their own well-being to the wayside. This trait draws the two together in a beautiful way. I believe that ZEN AND GONE contains one of the best crafted romances in a YA contemporary that I have read in a very long time. Essa opens up to Oliver in a way that she never has with anyone else before. She is raw, honest, and vulnerable with him. In behaving in this way, Oliver is able to become more open-minded. He takes in the city of Boulder through Essa’s eyes and finds himself deeply enriched in a lifestyle that he would have once glanced over without a second thought. The relationship Essa and Oliver share is natural and genuine. By opening up to each other over a shared circumstance, Essa and Oliver become better people than they were prior to their meeting. Although this novel does not solely center on Essa and Oliver’s romance, I believe that it is worth reading to be able to take in the mastery in which Emily France develops their characters. After reading France’s first novel SIGNS OF YOU, I became an instant fan of her writing. I am so honored to be able to review her second novel here for you on Teenreads. I am so grateful that authors like Emily France have taken the opportunity to break boundaries in the YA genre by telling real and honest stories that easily get overshadowed. I encourage you to pick up ZEN AND GONE. This story is stunningly crafted and well-executed. I cannot wait to see what Emily France does next, but whatever it may be I know I will be more than ready to get my hands on it. Reviewed by Gabby B., Teen Board Member

  2. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Oakes

    I loved every moment of Zen and Gone. A lovely, chiming tale with it's root in Buddhist philosophy, Zen and Gone is a tale of two young people finding themselves inside of discovering each other. Set in a very realistic Boulder, Zen and Gone reaches out to explore material not normally covered in YA: parents who smoke weed, a hippie town, kites stores, camping groups, and deep philosophical conversations, but it also goes places that you want a YA book to go: kissing, crushes, coming of age jour I loved every moment of Zen and Gone. A lovely, chiming tale with it's root in Buddhist philosophy, Zen and Gone is a tale of two young people finding themselves inside of discovering each other. Set in a very realistic Boulder, Zen and Gone reaches out to explore material not normally covered in YA: parents who smoke weed, a hippie town, kites stores, camping groups, and deep philosophical conversations, but it also goes places that you want a YA book to go: kissing, crushes, coming of age journeys and discovering who you are in context of your family. France excels at character creation: both Essa and Oliver are fully-drawn and possess incredible depth. Also its funny - like, really funny. Zen and Gone is the perfect novel to bring on a camping trip, or to gift to a teenager with deeper questions. And if you love Colorado, it's a must read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marzie

    3.5 Stars Author Emily France's Zen and Gone evolves around Essa (Essence) McKree, a parentified teen who is struggling to manage her mother's health problems and care for her much loved younger sister, Puck. Puck is an endearing and clever child, frustrated by her mother's lack of engagement. Their mother has managed to date half of Boulder, Colorado from their perspective and is now dating a new guy, Ronnie, who has thoughts of uprooting them and moving to Oregon in a mobile home. Thus, Essa an 3.5 Stars Author Emily France's Zen and Gone evolves around Essa (Essence) McKree, a parentified teen who is struggling to manage her mother's health problems and care for her much loved younger sister, Puck. Puck is an endearing and clever child, frustrated by her mother's lack of engagement. Their mother has managed to date half of Boulder, Colorado from their perspective and is now dating a new guy, Ronnie, who has thoughts of uprooting them and moving to Oregon in a mobile home. Thus, Essa and Puck are struggling to deal with their deteriorating family situation in the face of their mother's addiction. Buddhism offers them solace and is the thread woven through this book. Some aspects of this story, especially the poignancy of Puck's reliance on Essa and need to feel included are so well done. But as we know from the opening chapter, Puck has disappeared when Essa and some of her friends go camping in the wilderness and Puck tagged along as a stowaway. Essa's worry for her missing sister and guilt about what may have happened to her form a good portion of the book. While I liked the idea of the Zazen practice and the Four Noble Truths + Eight Fold Path used as a coping mechanism, I just didn't feel it was smoothly integrated into the lives of the teens and Puck. The tenets of Buddhism were overlaid on the plot rather than truly integrated into it and while coping is a good skill, the realities of Essa and Puck's family situation are difficult and acceptance in lieu of meaningful change was something I kept questioning as a plot goal. I also found that the way missing child and a neglectful drug addict mom situation was handled was not very realistic from the perspective of someone with more than a decade's experience with child welfare. When a nine-year-old goes missing while camping with teens, there will be a lot of questions about parental judgment. A secondary story-line, with another teen, Oliver, was a little more successful. Oliver is struggling with his own family demons, due to his sister's mental health. He's actually spending a summer away from his family, to try to learn to deal. His path toward maturity and coping with his personal family sorrows echoes Essa and Puck's and provides a point of connection. This was a book that may pique some young adult's interests in Zen Buddhism and orienteering. It was a good summer read. I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from Soho Teen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Samantha (WLABB)

    Essa had to assume the role of grown-up way before her time. She had been able to maintain her sanity via orienteering and Zen Buddhism, but will she be able to keep from cracking under all the pressure, when her sister goes missing? • Pro: Justifiably angsty and super deep, Essa had a lot on her plate. At 17, she had to be the parent to both her pot-head mother and her little sister, Puck. I admired her devotion to her little sister, as well as resistance to drugs and alcohol as a means of escap Essa had to assume the role of grown-up way before her time. She had been able to maintain her sanity via orienteering and Zen Buddhism, but will she be able to keep from cracking under all the pressure, when her sister goes missing? • Pro: Justifiably angsty and super deep, Essa had a lot on her plate. At 17, she had to be the parent to both her pot-head mother and her little sister, Puck. I admired her devotion to her little sister, as well as resistance to drugs and alcohol as a means of escape. • Pro: Essa escapes were so much cooler. She utilized Zen Buddhism and wilderness treks to liberate herself, temporarily, from her everyday obligations. I know very little about Buddhism, therefore, all that was really interesting, and it's always great to visit the great outdoors, especially the majestic Rocky Mountains. • Con: I had some small issues with Puck. I thought she was kind of manipulative, and sort of unfair to Essa, but I gave her a little leeway because of her age. • Pro: I am a fan of the writing. France did a fantastic job conveying the complex emotions of both Essa and Oliver. She also lured me further into the story with the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and the whimsy of Boulder. • Pro: He may have been a stoner, but Micah was a solid friend. He had a lot going on at home, but he still was there for Essa each and every time she needed him. • Pro: Although I didn't think the story actually needed Oliver, I enjoyed the friendship that developed between him and Essa. They were both the caretakers of the family. Although their situations were not identical, they both felt a huge responsibility towards their sister, and I was glad they could connect and share the load a little with each other. • Pro: The search for Puck was very intense, and I will admit to getting a little emotional a few times. • Pro: I loved the over-all message of this story. I feel like society as a whole is always thinking about the next move, and we just don't spend enough time being present. Zen and Gone did a good job reminding me how important this is. Overall: A book, which reminded me to stay in the moment and "be present", while exposing me to Zen Buddhism, survival skills, and the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS

  5. 5 out of 5

    -RadioactiveBookworm-

    Goodreads Synopsis: Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Essence McKree feels older than any seventeen-year-old she knows. Ever since weed was legalized, Mom has been working in a pot shop, high more often than not. Lately it’s been up to Essa to care for her nine-year-old sister, Puck. When Essa meets Oliver—a brainy indoor type, in town for the summer—she is cautious at first, distrustful of the tourist crowd and suspicious of Oliver’s mysterious past in Chicago. But Puck is charmed and pushes Goodreads Synopsis: Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Essence McKree feels older than any seventeen-year-old she knows. Ever since weed was legalized, Mom has been working in a pot shop, high more often than not. Lately it’s been up to Essa to care for her nine-year-old sister, Puck. When Essa meets Oliver—a brainy indoor type, in town for the summer—she is cautious at first, distrustful of the tourist crowd and suspicious of Oliver’s mysterious past in Chicago. But Puck is charmed and pushes Essa toward him. Soon Essa finds herself showing Oliver the Boulder she has forgotten: the mountain parties, the long hikes…and at Oliver’s urging, the exploration of Buddhism at the local zendo. When Oliver agrees to accompany Essa on a three-day survival game in the Rocky Mountains, she feels a lightness she hasn’t known in a long time. Then she discovers that Puck has stowed away and followed them into the wilderness. After spending a night stuck in a mountain storm, Essa wakes to find Puck missing. Now Essa must rely on her newfound spiritual strength if she is to save her sister’s life, and ultimately her own. My Review: Let me start off by saying how much I loved reading this book, and how much different it is than anything else I've read lately. This book made me feel really good reading it, up until probably three quarters of the way in but that was kind of the point. It's heartwarming for the most part, the characters are super relatable and realistic, and they grow a lot throughout the story. It's an easy read, and you should definitely check it out if you get the chance. Essa and Puck are sisters, they live with their stoner mom who's pretty much absent in their lives. Puck is nine years old and a budding genius, also loves drama class. She wears tap shoes everywhere, although they can't afford lessons for her, because Essa is the main breadwinner for the family, even though she's just in high school. The book starts off with Essa waking up in the wilderness to find her little sister missing from her bed beside her. It then switches back before that time, to explain the backstory and introduce the characters. It eventually catches up to that beginning point, and passes it for the end of the story. I loved every moment of this book, and couldn't put it down because I was worried I would miss something. I read it in almost one sitting, that's how much I liked it. The other character that the viewpoint switches between is Oliver. He's just moved to Boulder into his aunts house for the summer from Chicago, and doesn't expect much to happen. That is, until he starts working at the local kite shop with Essa. From there his life just goes up. Most of the book are the characters everyday lives, another new boyfriend for Essa and Puck's mom, a phone call from Oliver's sister Lilly, and above all, a seemingly hopeless crush. It's really just about learning to pay attention to the things around you, even if it seems like a disastrous situation. I'm glad I got the chance to read it, and I definitely recommend you check it out. Here's a link to the book on Amazon, and another link to the Author's Twitter. https://www.amazon.ca/Zen-Gone-Emily-... https://twitter.com/emilyfrancebook?l... Thanks for reading! Check out this review and more at my blog. (Radioactivebookreviews.wordpress.com)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Essa may still be in high school, but she’s the breadwinner and most reliable person in the family. Her mom can barely keep a job, is in and out of relationships, smokes pot and drinks alcohol, and lives in her own fantasy land 24/7. That leaves Essa to watch over her little sister Puck who is a wild child in a carefree sense. When new guy Oliver moves into town and gets a job at the kite shop where Essa works, Essa slowly begins to form a bond with him over a similar fear for their sisters. It Essa may still be in high school, but she’s the breadwinner and most reliable person in the family. Her mom can barely keep a job, is in and out of relationships, smokes pot and drinks alcohol, and lives in her own fantasy land 24/7. That leaves Essa to watch over her little sister Puck who is a wild child in a carefree sense. When new guy Oliver moves into town and gets a job at the kite shop where Essa works, Essa slowly begins to form a bond with him over a similar fear for their sisters. It isn’t until Essa and her friends go on a hike that they realize Puck has tagged alone, and during the middle of the night, Essa’s fear for her sister comes true. I liked this story at first. The Zen incorporation captured my attention as well as the whimsical town of Boulder surrounded by miles of mountains and forests. Even the descriptions of stores had a magical feel to it. The landscape was golden, but the characters on the other hand were a disappointment. At first, I felt an attachment to Essa and understood her fears and frustrations with taking care of her mom and sister. But then Oliver entered the picture and Essa acted completely different from his point of view. This story was in third person and alternated between Essa and Oliver, and every time Oliver took over, we were introduced to a new Essa than the one before. Plus, all Oliver seemed to do was blush every other sentence which was highly annoying. Essa’s friends Micah and Anish smoked pot all the time and added nothing to the story. I felt indifferent about Puck until the end in which I realized she was nothing but a spoiled brat who manipulated those around her. She wanted her mother and sister to live by her rules, do as she said, and give her attention when she demanded it. I’m not going to mention any spoilers, but this child goes to the extreme to acquire attention. This started off fun, but by the end I was glad it was over since it wasn’t what I expected. I received an ARC of Zen and Gone from Edelweiss.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I enjoyed the Buddhism aspects of the book. It definitely made things more interesting. I liked that the novel was told from different points of view. This allowed me to feel like I knew the characters a bit better. The beginning of the book really grabbed my attention and I kept reading to find out how and why this scenario occurred. Overall I enjoyed this book and think that young adults would as well.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

    I liked this book. I really enjoyed the detail that was put into all of the different scenes in this book, and the KITES. I'd probably recommend for the older teen who enjoys mild adventure novels with a little teen romance thrown in. I will note the use of marijuana in the book, by adults, and also teens at times. I liked this book. I really enjoyed the detail that was put into all of the different scenes in this book, and the KITES. I'd probably recommend for the older teen who enjoys mild adventure novels with a little teen romance thrown in. I will note the use of marijuana in the book, by adults, and also teens at times.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marci

    A good YA novel about a " caretaker " teen who takes care of her younger sister because their mother is doing drugs. Enter another teen who could not cure his sister's chronic illness and we've got a story. Some readers might feel there is too much Zen Buddhism in the story, but what do you expect in a book called Zen and Gone? A good YA novel about a " caretaker " teen who takes care of her younger sister because their mother is doing drugs. Enter another teen who could not cure his sister's chronic illness and we've got a story. Some readers might feel there is too much Zen Buddhism in the story, but what do you expect in a book called Zen and Gone?

  10. 4 out of 5

    R.L.S.

    Makes me want to move to Boulder Or maybe take up orienteering, or at least pay more attention to the world around me. This is a beautiful story with great characters in a richly drawn world, who choose to live in the moment rather than escape from their problems.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Elaine

    Essence lives her life on edge. Since marijuana is legalized in Colorado, Essa's mother smokes weed every single day of her life, so she can't really be accountable for taking care of Essa or her nine year old little sister, Puck. To maintain her anxiety of taking care and protecting Puck, Essa practices Zen, and it calms her nerves. When Oliver's parents send him to spend the summer with his aunt in Colorado, he's not really up for it. Oliver is more of an indoor type of person, but nevertheles Essence lives her life on edge. Since marijuana is legalized in Colorado, Essa's mother smokes weed every single day of her life, so she can't really be accountable for taking care of Essa or her nine year old little sister, Puck. To maintain her anxiety of taking care and protecting Puck, Essa practices Zen, and it calms her nerves. When Oliver's parents send him to spend the summer with his aunt in Colorado, he's not really up for it. Oliver is more of an indoor type of person, but nevertheless, he goes. Mainly, he goes because of the guilt he feels after what happened with his summer. Oliver is not looking forward to this summer until he meets Essa. Inviting Oliver to spend the weekend camping with her, Essa is thrilled to get away from her mother for the weekend, even if she feels a bit guilty leaving Puck there. It doesn't matter, anyways, because Puck stows away. It's no big deal, right? Wrong. Puck goes missing one night, leaving Essa and Oliver searching high and low to find her. Will they find Puck? I enjoyed this novel. It was a nice, easy read. I didn't really get attached to the characters, and Oliver's inner thoughts sometimes annoyed me. It was a very basic novel, in my opinion, but I wouldn't mind reading another novel by this author. I have decided that Colorado is a strange place, and I don't know if I would want to visit it. Maybe I will because it sounds like an interesting place. I would recommend this novel. It actually wasn't bad, and I fairly enjoyed it. Happy reading!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brittany | thebookishfiiasco

    wowza, that was a journey! i definitely did not know what i was in for, but this story certainly packed a punch. feeling so grateful to soho teen for sending this one my way 🌿 . what stuck with me is the relationships between siblings, despite any absence of parents. throughout the story, i was struck by the depth and commitment of that connection, and even more by the ability to share it with another person. the way Essa and Oliver describe their relationships to their siblings— it’s complicated. wowza, that was a journey! i definitely did not know what i was in for, but this story certainly packed a punch. feeling so grateful to soho teen for sending this one my way 🌿 . what stuck with me is the relationships between siblings, despite any absence of parents. throughout the story, i was struck by the depth and commitment of that connection, and even more by the ability to share it with another person. the way Essa and Oliver describe their relationships to their siblings— it’s complicated. so much depth, love, and care, unfortunately entrenched in so much darkness from other aspects of their life. the relationship with their parents were challenging, and the realness behind that experience is something i’ll continue to process now that i’ve finished. . read this story if you’re willing to go on an adventure. if you’re willing to face some of the tough stuff, and be open to leaning in to the things that scare you, because that might just be the place to find the answer. disclaimer: this is also a young adult read, so if that is usually not your thing, you may not enjoy this as much. it is, in my opinion, packing a lot of depth and realness for a YA read. just a heads up! . 3.5|5 ✨

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah {Literary Meanderings}

    Not for me. Review to come!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Cute book. It went a direction I was not expecting I like how it kept the theme of a Buddha is him throughout the entire book, Though I do not share the Faith the characters were very vibrant And reel to life the ending was a little far-fetched for me though still highly recommended

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Peace

    "What is Buddha?" "No mind, no Buddha." "What is Buddha?" "No mind, no Buddha."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jean Huber Bookmama789

    Zen and Gone By Emily France is an intellectual fictional tale that takes contemporary YA lit to a higher level (no pun intended). In Zen an Gone Emily France does not shy away from the hard issues that face teens today, such as divorce, drug addiction, suicide, mental health, and religion. She creates rich characters in a deeply atmospheric setting to weave a story that not only teaches the reader a thing or two about zen but also really draws you into the lives of the charters the author has c Zen and Gone By Emily France is an intellectual fictional tale that takes contemporary YA lit to a higher level (no pun intended). In Zen an Gone Emily France does not shy away from the hard issues that face teens today, such as divorce, drug addiction, suicide, mental health, and religion. She creates rich characters in a deeply atmospheric setting to weave a story that not only teaches the reader a thing or two about zen but also really draws you into the lives of the charters the author has created. The story is told through the different points of view of our main characters Essa and Oliver. Essa is a way to mature for her age seventeen-year old who feels obligated to be the responsible adult figure in her younger sister Puck's life. Oliver is a reluctant visitor to Essa'a hometown for the Summer. He is there to escape and recover from recent events surrounding a traumatic event that took place with his sister Lilly back home in Chicago. While Essa isn't sure how she feels about Oliver at first, a strong connection develops between the two of them as they soon realize that even though they come from different worlds, their core values and what they hold most dear to their hearts are very similar. Tension in the story primarily revolves around Essa and Puck's mentally unavailable mother, who spends the majority of her time baked out her mind and going from boyfriend to boyfriend. The lack of attention wears deeply on both daughters but on Puck in particular. As a way of escaping her obligations as a part-time parent Essa looks forward to the weekends where she goes out into the Boulder wilderness with only a topographical map, her friends, and a compass to get from point A to point B. These wilderness exercises would be dangerous to most people but not to her and her friends who have gotten it down to the point where they view it as a game. They see it as a game that is until the weekend when Puck sneaks out and joins them and goes missing in the middle of the night. From that point on it is no longer a game and everything changes. I really enjoyed reading this book and found it to be a very easy read even with some of it's more intellectual content. I actually really enjoyed the inclusion of the religious aspect in a YA novel where the teens were the interested and practicing participants in a lesser known and studied religion. I also liked the way in which the author used different charters to present different sides/ pros and cons of the use of legalized marijuana. Mental health is another major theme in this book as presented through the storyline of Oliver and his relationship with his sister Lilly. The author did a wonderful job of advocating for how these conditions need to be talked about more in literature and presented with compassion and research. I especially loved how she included how Oliver was particular about the use of the word "crazy" all because of his relationship and love for his sister. Zen and Gone presents mental health issues in a compassionate and informative light and I appreciate the author's writing style when it came to this particular issue. My only small gripe was with this book came from the over use of the inner monologue that The main character Essa has throughout the book. She continuously uses the mantras or prayer like sayings from her zen sayings, and at about the mid point of the book you find yourself skimming over them like okay got it, enough already. Again it doesn't take away from the story, and it fits with her character. In some places it is appropriate and added to the narrative, but overall it seemed over used.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Essa was plunged back into unrelenting blackness. And in this new darkness, she knew one thing. She hadn't kept Puck safe. She had failed. Essence McKree is probably the oldest seventeen-year-old in Boulder, Colorado. Her mother's always been a little off-kilter, but ever since weed was legalized in the state, she spends most of her time high, leaving Essa to take care of her nine-year-old sister, Puck. When Essa meets Oliver, who is spending the summer with his aunt, she feels like she needs Essa was plunged back into unrelenting blackness. And in this new darkness, she knew one thing. She hadn't kept Puck safe. She had failed. Essence McKree is probably the oldest seventeen-year-old in Boulder, Colorado. Her mother's always been a little off-kilter, but ever since weed was legalized in the state, she spends most of her time high, leaving Essa to take care of her nine-year-old sister, Puck. When Essa meets Oliver, who is spending the summer with his aunt, she feels like she needs to show him the highlights of Boulder: mountain parties, delicious sandwich shops, hiking trails. And then she starts to tell him about her life, about her rules, and about her strong belief in Zen Buddhism. Essa invites Oliver to join her and her friends on a three-day hike, only to belatedly find out that Puck has stowed away. And before they can even get home, Essa's worst fears come to light and Puck disappears into the forest. Zen and Gone is a book that I don't really know how to describe. It's a quick read that I finished in a single sitting, but overall I think it's a book that can best be described as "average" for me. Like, I didn't love it, but I certainly didn't hate it. In all reality, it'll likely be a book that I'll forget I read. 3 stars because I'm sort of ambivalent about it, and the middle feels like the right way to go on this one. The book is about a ton of different things. It definitely has a contemporary feel, with a focus on family relationships--particularly that of siblings. Essa has all these self-imposed rules, most of them making her the complete opposite of her carefree mother, in order to take care of Puck. Puck, for her part of the story, came off as particularly manipulative and bratty and even a little vindictive, which sort of rubbed me the wrong way. For Oliver, part of the reason he's in Boulder is because of a falling out he'd had with his own sister. "It sucks," he said. "Feeling lonely beside someone you love." It also explores religion. Zen Buddhism is a big focal point for the story, and, interestingly most of the characters would likely identify as Buddhists (which I'm not used to seeing in any novel, much less young adult.) It was indeed interesting, because I personally don't know much about Buddhism, and it was woven through every inch of the story. According to the author's note, the book was heavily influenced by a particular teaching that struck her deeply. Essa felt like trying to understand Zen with her mind was like trying or organize the ocean, jumping in and separating it into individual drops with her hands. But that's not all; the book also talks a little bit about drugs and drug abuse. I have to admit that I was curious about how the author was going to work this into the novel. I figured it would have a lot of blow-back either way; people were going to be angry about how she portrayed weed regardless of her stance on it, and I'm actually quite pleasantly surprised that I haven't seen much negative discussion on it. Essa and Oliver are both very anti-drug, for different reasons. Essa doesn't want to be like her mom, high or drunk all the time and in her own little world. Oliver avoids drugs because of his own family history. (view spoiler)[I actually wish that the novel delved a little more into Oliver's sister and her schizophrenia. It's like, the only thing that wasn't given a ton of attention. (hide spoiler)] I myself am a little bit of a wet blanket, because I don't like anything that can play with brain chemistry (brains are amazing; they're so complex yet so fragile, and I really don't think it's a good idea to imitate neurotransmitters or hormones unless it's for medical reasons, so....) That's why he'd never gotten messed up. Not from alcohol or drugs or anything. How could he knowingly mess up his mind when some people had no choice? When some people were stuck like that for life? And the last focus of the book, the only one I didn't like, was the romance. Because of course, there's going to be a romance. I wouldn't usually mind, but this one is a serious case of instalove. The entire novel occurs over the course of about one month, with a few flashbacks here and there, and they actually do use the word love. Not to mention that Oliver is all tongue-tied for Essa (who, from his point of view, comes off like a manic pixie dream girl) the moment he meets her. She caught him looking at her, and he tried to hide the confusion on his face. But all he could think about was how mysterious Essa was. How deep. How she wasn't like anyone he'd ever met or seen or even heard of before. And how there was no way on earth this hippie, hiking, trekking, mysterious Buddhist girl would ever like him back. Overall, this book wasn't bad, but it wasn't super great either. For me, at least. It's decent, and has a few qualities that make it stand out--like religion and legalized drug use--but it's just not a book that I loved.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Miguel (cityoflostdivergent)

    I received a copy of Zen and Gone by the publisher, SoHo Teen in exchange for an honest review. I'm just going to start this review by saying that can we all agree that Emily France's writing is purely beautiful?! She wrote Colorado, mountains, and the forest absolutely phenomenal. This book does take place in Boulder, Colorado, and how the author just wrote was amazing, I was not disappointed. I had a whole lot of hopes for the scenery of the book and it checked out perfectly!! Zen and Gone foll I received a copy of Zen and Gone by the publisher, SoHo Teen in exchange for an honest review. I'm just going to start this review by saying that can we all agree that Emily France's writing is purely beautiful?! She wrote Colorado, mountains, and the forest absolutely phenomenal. This book does take place in Boulder, Colorado, and how the author just wrote was amazing, I was not disappointed. I had a whole lot of hopes for the scenery of the book and it checked out perfectly!! Zen and Gone follows two main characters, Essa and Oliver, in the end I really enjoyed both of their POV's, but after finally finishing this book I loved Essa the most!! I really thought that her character was really fleshed out, you could see her flaws, her prides, her fails, etc. From the synopsis I could tell that this story was going to deal with sisterhood/family-hood and the I really liked that aspect. Essa, had to practically raise her younger sister, Puck because their mom is a drug addict, and from only a couple of chapters you could see the love these sister's have for each other. Essa cares for her sister like a mom, and Essa is only still in high school. I do have to say that she really stepped up her role, and to read that was really heartwarming. Basically every Essa chapter I was rooting for the sister love because it was real, I think I liked it mainly because I never really read a book that does deal with that. This book also follows Oliver, a boy from Chicago who was dropped off in Boulder by his mom to stay for the summer. In the beginning of the story I really didn't like him, he felt weird and mysterious to me. His mom and her sister keep foreshadowing something that happened back in Chicago, this 'thing' was the main part to this story arch, and we finally see what did happen back in Chicago and why his mom dropped in off in Boulder. It was good to see what these character's were talking about, but I wished we got more time to discuss what happened, I just felt the author brushed over that an didn't give it chance to grow. We do get to see the two main character interact because Oliver gets a job at the kit store Essa works at, first you could tell the characters really didn't like each other and I liked that because I didn't want a story where they fall in love the moment they see each other. But over time you see the bond they formed, I think they clicked together was because they both have to care for their sisters in a way no one understands. TW: Self-harm and drug use.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    This one was an interesting read for me. There were aspects I liked, but as a whole it just didn’t quite click. Essa is our main female protagonist, and though she is only in high school, she is the parental figure in her household, working and taking care of both herself, and her little sister Puck because their mother is too busy getting high on weed and dating a slew of unsavory men. Essa is kind of cold and stand-offish with anyone who isn’t her sister. She has friends, but she doesn’t treat This one was an interesting read for me. There were aspects I liked, but as a whole it just didn’t quite click. Essa is our main female protagonist, and though she is only in high school, she is the parental figure in her household, working and taking care of both herself, and her little sister Puck because their mother is too busy getting high on weed and dating a slew of unsavory men. Essa is kind of cold and stand-offish with anyone who isn’t her sister. She has friends, but she doesn’t treat them the best. It’s clear that she’s trying to be a pillar for her sister, and focus all her time on caring for Puck, but the way she goes about it isn’t very appealing to read about. Oliver is a boy visiting Boulder, Colorado for the summer after an incident between him and his sister caused his parents to send him to his aunt. He’s not overly memorable, nor is he well developed. He basically falls in love with Essa immediately, with hardly any basis of knowing her. I understand insta-attraction; that is something completely feasible, but for him to call it love after knowing her for like a week, and even at that not really even knowing her that well, seemed a little much to me. I did enjoy the relationship Essa had with her sister Puck and the parallel of the one Oliver had with his sister Lilly. It’s basically the one thing Oliver and Essa bond over. Both feel responsible for their sisters and caring for them, leading to a tentative friendship that suddenly becomes more. I also enjoyed the references to the art of Zen, being mindful and present in the moment, and the Buddhist religion. I’m not very knowledgeable about any of those subjects, so my take away from this book centers more on gaining that information than anything else. The end message is good one, even if the road to get to it was a little hokey and extremely dangerous. This will surely appeal to some people; it just wasn’t a favorite of mine. *Thank you to SoHo teen and Edelweiss for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.*

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 2.5/5 stars Oliver's older sister has schizophrenia, and, after an incident, he is sent to live with his aunt in Boulder, Colorado for the summer. Essa has a younger sister named Puck, whom Essa has to take care of because their single mom is spacey-- personality-wise and because she smokes a lot of pot. Oliver and Essa meet at the speciality kite store where they work, and Oliver falls for Essa pretty quickly. Essa, though, says she doesn't date because she has to take care of Puck. Nevertheless 2.5/5 stars Oliver's older sister has schizophrenia, and, after an incident, he is sent to live with his aunt in Boulder, Colorado for the summer. Essa has a younger sister named Puck, whom Essa has to take care of because their single mom is spacey-- personality-wise and because she smokes a lot of pot. Oliver and Essa meet at the speciality kite store where they work, and Oliver falls for Essa pretty quickly. Essa, though, says she doesn't date because she has to take care of Puck. Nevertheless, they hang out, visit a Zendo (Buddhist "church"), and go on orienteering treks together, along with some of Essa's other friends. One one suck trek, Puck has stowed away. Stuck in a storm on the mountain, Puck disappears from their shelter in the middle of the night. Frantic, Essa refuses to give up when the reports of a mountain lion attack proclaim Puck dead. It's then that Essa, Oliver, and company find some clues that Puck had left. Turns out, Puck wanted to highlight mindfulness, the eighth noble truth of Buddhism and make her mom pay attention to her. They find Puck, albeit dirty and hungry, and Puck's mom (ostensibly) has learned her lesson. While Zen and Gone has some plot points that makes it more interesting than a good number of the other books I've been reading for my religion in YA article, I don't really appreciate the premise where Puck, who gets off (as far as the reader can see) scott free after pulling such a prank. Yes, her mom is a travesty, and I'm sure Puck wishes her mom would be less "cool mom" and more "loving mom," but to use Buddhist philosophy as to the how Puck runs away... I'm sorry, but it just reeks of a cross of blasphemy and immature writing. I liked the subtextual learning about Buddhism in Zen and Gone, and I think the exploration of non-Abrahamic religious stories is interesting and something I'd like to see more of, but the aspect of the story with Puck's disappearance/running away just ruined the story for me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    Thanks to NetGalley & Soho Teen for a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Seventeen year old Essa, who lives in Boulder, Colorado, spends her days working at a local kite shop, Above the Clouds, and looking out for her nine year old sister, Puck, who is practically a genius. After all, Essa and Puck’s Mom can’t be counted on for much of anything now that weed has been legalized in Colorado. Devoting all of her attention to drugs and her string of boyfriends, she doesn’t hav Thanks to NetGalley & Soho Teen for a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Seventeen year old Essa, who lives in Boulder, Colorado, spends her days working at a local kite shop, Above the Clouds, and looking out for her nine year old sister, Puck, who is practically a genius. After all, Essa and Puck’s Mom can’t be counted on for much of anything now that weed has been legalized in Colorado. Devoting all of her attention to drugs and her string of boyfriends, she doesn’t have much left over to give to her daughters. However, the monotony of Essa’s life gets shaken up when a new guy, Oliver, moves to town. Oliver is hiding some secrets about his own family, and at Puck’s insistence, Essa brings him into their lives and introduces him to some of their passions - Buddhism and Orienteering, AKA trekking into the woods with minimal supplies and then finding your way out. When Olivier agrees to join Essa and her friends on the ultimate expedition, a three day journey into the Rocky Mountains, Puck stows away in their car amid fears of being left out once again. What was supposed to be a fun survival game quickly turns into a treacherous search and rescue when Puck goes missing. Essa has essentially already lost her mother ... will she lose her sister too to the perils of the wild? Zen and Gone by Emily France is an ambitious young adult novel that unfortunately takes on too much. With plot lines involving recreational drug use, orienteering and survival, Buddhism, kite hobbyists, and schizophrenia, it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed by all of the informational tidbits bogging down this novel. Even more unfortunate, the storyline is just not compelling or entertaining. Without a strong plot or characters, there’s little motivation to plod through this detail-laden novel.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michellegoz

    Wavering between 2 and 3 stars for this one. I can't tell you how many time I rolled my eyes at the beginning of this one. The author lives in Colorado and SHE. WANTS. YOU. TO. KNOW. IT. We all smoke pot, twirl our hula hoops around and behave like hippies. No one dresses like us anywhere else in the US in (gasp!) skirts and (the horror!) tank tops. Oliver's relationship with his sister is probably the most interesting part of the whole book, but I felt it was glossed over. This group of kids wh Wavering between 2 and 3 stars for this one. I can't tell you how many time I rolled my eyes at the beginning of this one. The author lives in Colorado and SHE. WANTS. YOU. TO. KNOW. IT. We all smoke pot, twirl our hula hoops around and behave like hippies. No one dresses like us anywhere else in the US in (gasp!) skirts and (the horror!) tank tops. Oliver's relationship with his sister is probably the most interesting part of the whole book, but I felt it was glossed over. This group of kids who are supposed wilderness experts go hiking for three days and somehow forget a tent and a lighter???? (Also, side note, three of these teenagers work at the same kite shop in Boulder and they never seem to work! How can all three of them have the same weekend off to go on a three day hiking trip at a moments notice? How many employees can a kite shop actually have? Is a kite shop closed on the weekend??) When the 9 year old sister disappears in the middle of this "hiking" trip, the book got interesting, for about a minute. Once Essa figures out what actually happened to her sister, it goes downhill fast and I couldn't wait to be finished with the book. I don't think the author has been around a nine-year old in her life! SPOILERS follow. For a 9-year old to come up with these elaborate clues for her mom and sister to solve and figure out that she ran away, was just ridiculous. And for being such a smart runaway, the nine year old has been living in a mountain mine for a week with nothing but a unicorn t-shirt and shorts? In Colorado high country? Give me a break. Standing firmly on my two start review by the end of writing this.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This book is about Essa and Oliver, two teens from very different backgrounds but with one major commonality, they have sister issues. Essa takes it upon herself to take of herself and her nine-year-old sister Puck due to a mother who's checked out and high regularly. Oliver, from Chicago, has a sister who is "sick" and a secret that he won't share. Essa and Oliver get to know one another via orienteering, Zen Buddhism, and a job at the same kite shop. While on an orienteering weekend gone wrong This book is about Essa and Oliver, two teens from very different backgrounds but with one major commonality, they have sister issues. Essa takes it upon herself to take of herself and her nine-year-old sister Puck due to a mother who's checked out and high regularly. Oliver, from Chicago, has a sister who is "sick" and a secret that he won't share. Essa and Oliver get to know one another via orienteering, Zen Buddhism, and a job at the same kite shop. While on an orienteering weekend gone wrong Puck, Essa's sister goes missing in the woods. The one part of this book that I enjoyed was the commentary and knowledge given about Buddhism, a very little understood philosophy. It was especially wonderful to see it in a YA novel. Despite this great information, I did feel that it was explained in ways that felt more "telling" so the reader was aware than a part of the actual narrative, making for a forced dialogue and interaction between characters. Oliver and Essa's romance had potential, especially with Oliver's desire to treat Essa like a queen. Once again, the romance was rushed and basically nonexistent, almost sorely developed in each character's inner dialogue. The epiphany in the woods at the climax was so unexpected and out of place that I went back several pages thinking I had somehow skipped some part of the text. This plot combined to make for a rushed narrative, with little to no character development, and a painfully unrealistic plot conclusion. This book felt largely like a first draft that needed a significant amount of development and editing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jaton

    Colorado native here and who boy. First of all, weed. I would like to note that you cannot under any circumstances be high when working at a dispensary or 'pot shop'(I have never heard this used once. This is more highly regulated than other traditional businesses due to the tenuous legality of thenesablishment. Second, that is not Boulder Colorado. Boulder is a college town, home of one of the big three universities in Colorado, Colorado University. It is also known for being home to people with Colorado native here and who boy. First of all, weed. I would like to note that you cannot under any circumstances be high when working at a dispensary or 'pot shop'(I have never heard this used once. This is more highly regulated than other traditional businesses due to the tenuous legality of thenesablishment. Second, that is not Boulder Colorado. Boulder is a college town, home of one of the big three universities in Colorado, Colorado University. It is also known for being home to people with a lot of money, and is a party town. It is not some small mountain town. Boulder isnt even NEAR the mountains, it is t even mesr the freaking foothills. There are no nearbye forests as Boulder is in more of a plain with miles of empty grassland surrounding it. A town similar to what is described in this novel would be somewhere like Steamboat, which is smack in the middle of the mountains but there is no way in heck a single mom working at a dispensary would be able to afford even a room in any town even close to what is described here. You wanna know how long it takes to get from Boulder to a mountainous region like the one described here? 30 min on the highway. You wanna know how much a one bedroom apartment in boulder costs? $1,200 dollars for the absolute bottom of the barrel. That is more expensive than a place close to the capital, Denver. Boulder isnt some cute mou tain town. It is sprawling, and the town has a ton of money. It isnt quint, it isnt cute. Screw this novel.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Garratt

    First Personal then work So I really liked this book it has good connection and is all about family however personally I find the "stoner mom" problematic. If she weren't a stoners she'd be a wine mom, be a quaaludes or a xanax Mom. I want the statement made that drug abusers that are avoiding their life will do so with any drug not just cannabis. Making this a cannabis issue is not the best, but I understand that it can and does address an issue that can come with legalized drugs. Also it makes First Personal then work So I really liked this book it has good connection and is all about family however personally I find the "stoner mom" problematic. If she weren't a stoners she'd be a wine mom, be a quaaludes or a xanax Mom. I want the statement made that drug abusers that are avoiding their life will do so with any drug not just cannabis. Making this a cannabis issue is not the best, but I understand that it can and does address an issue that can come with legalized drugs. Also it makes the book modern and poingent to the issues of addiction and avoiding life. However the Soto Zen Budism in this is a lovely intro for some one interested but unsure how it could possible work in their personal life. If you want to know more, I'd suggest reading the authors afterward in the book there are so tools for your growth both in spirituality, mindfulness, zen and wilderness survival information. In modern day Colorado, where cannabis is legal Essa's Hippy mom has checked-out. With Dad out of the picture and mom avoiding life. Essa is running life with Puck her little sister. When Essa meets Oliver who doesn't talk about the past they both kind of bond spending time with Puck and learning about Buddhism at the zendo. Oliver an indoor kid, agrees to do a survival camping hike with Essa but Puck unexpectly comes along and in the morning is gone. Now Essa must unravel the clues, find inner strength, and listen, if she had any hope of saving her sister.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I received this through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Essa lives with her mom and sister, Puck, in Colorado. Her mother works at a marijuana dispensary and is high all of the time, which leaves Essa with the responsibility of taking care of her genius sister. Essa can’t wait to graduate and move away from her deadbeat mom, but she is still has a strong connection to her sister. Oliver lives in Chicago, but after a blowout with his sister, which ended with her in the hospital, Oliver I received this through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Essa lives with her mom and sister, Puck, in Colorado. Her mother works at a marijuana dispensary and is high all of the time, which leaves Essa with the responsibility of taking care of her genius sister. Essa can’t wait to graduate and move away from her deadbeat mom, but she is still has a strong connection to her sister. Oliver lives in Chicago, but after a blowout with his sister, which ended with her in the hospital, Oliver was sent to Colorado to stay with his aunt for the summer. Oliver begins working at the same kite shop as Essa and sparks begin to fly between the two. Essa invites Oliver on an orienteering retreat, which ends in Essa’s little sister going missing. Where is Puck and does Oliver have anything to do with her disappearance? I had trouble getting into this novel because I was not a fan of Puck. She rubbed me wrong throughout the entire novel. I had trouble connecting to Essa because she was so prickly. The Buddhism aspect was interesting, though I would be interested to see how #ownvoice readers would respond to this layer. It felt heavy-handed, at times. I believe many readers will respond to the orienteering and out doors aspects, especially because it is unique and not found in many other novels.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Caitie

    I first saw this book in Powell's in Portland when I was on a cross country trip. Each subsequent book store I went to across the country had the book, and its cover and title caught me right away (and the fact that it was set in Boulder-- one of our road trip destinations). So I was surprised when I came home to check it out from my library and it wasn't in the system. I requested it for my library, read it, and I can say-- I think this is an important book that should be in any YA library sect I first saw this book in Powell's in Portland when I was on a cross country trip. Each subsequent book store I went to across the country had the book, and its cover and title caught me right away (and the fact that it was set in Boulder-- one of our road trip destinations). So I was surprised when I came home to check it out from my library and it wasn't in the system. I requested it for my library, read it, and I can say-- I think this is an important book that should be in any YA library section. There aren't a ton of YA books out there that deal with spirituality. Emily France's website says her books are "stories with spiritual twists." This dual-perspective story is alternatively told by Oliver, a city-boy who is spending his summer in Chicago after having a falling out with his ill sister, and Essa, a girl living in Boulder who is just trying to keep it together as her mom loses touch with reality through the booming weed business in their town. Essa practices Zen Buddhism, which affects how she deals with things in her life and how she looks at the world. She doesn't want to fall for Oliver-- but isn't that how the best love stories start? This is a book about wilderness, orienteering, Zen, how weed use can affect a family, and protecting your family while finding yourself. 5/5-- I really loved this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mai

    I picked the book up at the exact right time, I had read a little about Zen, like, two days before picking this up. A few thoughts: • I saw a few people saying it was a fast paced book and I have no idea why, it was quite slow??? • Puck is a cute little smart kid, BUT (huge spoiler that gives away most of the plot) (view spoiler)[the clues left behind by her when she went missing, how they got found and tbh also the way Puck had planned everything out felt hella unrealistic and forced. I mean, I ge I picked the book up at the exact right time, I had read a little about Zen, like, two days before picking this up. A few thoughts: • I saw a few people saying it was a fast paced book and I have no idea why, it was quite slow??? • Puck is a cute little smart kid, BUT (huge spoiler that gives away most of the plot) (view spoiler)[the clues left behind by her when she went missing, how they got found and tbh also the way Puck had planned everything out felt hella unrealistic and forced. I mean, I get that Puck's supposed to be a genius, but... c'mon. (hide spoiler)] • Seeing Zen Buddhism in a YA novel was really nice and refreshing! • KITES!!! Kites. Sooo many kites. Now I want a kite. • Oh no, romance. In my opinion, the book would've been better off without it. • Goddamn Fahrenheit confusing me. More like Foreignheit. • HARRY POTTER REFERENCES, YESSS • Also, the cover is so pretty, can we just appreciate that for a second here, thank Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for providing me a free copy of the book. The fact that I got it for free does not influence my review in any way.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emily Scaff

    France's novel "Zen and Gone" features a multiple perspective storyline set in the real town of Boulder, Colorado. The two main characters, Essa and Oliver, are both struggling due to their rough family and home situations, and they are both set on staying sober. It took me a while to actually get into this book. The beginning was slow and was more like any old YA novel: Main characters have normal teen family problems, they meet someone who is unlike anyone they have ever met before, and they f France's novel "Zen and Gone" features a multiple perspective storyline set in the real town of Boulder, Colorado. The two main characters, Essa and Oliver, are both struggling due to their rough family and home situations, and they are both set on staying sober. It took me a while to actually get into this book. The beginning was slow and was more like any old YA novel: Main characters have normal teen family problems, they meet someone who is unlike anyone they have ever met before, and they fall in love within 2 weeks of knowing each other. But then we get to the second part of the story, which I felt had a completely different storyline than the first section. It was like I was reading two different novels. I finished the second part of the fairly quickly, due to the fact that I was intrigued by the mystery aspect. I do wish that Essa and Oliver would have interacted more in the second half. I felt like their romance could have developed a lot more than it did. Overall, I did enjoy reading this novel. The Zen knowledge that was placed into the novel was really fascinating, and I feel France did a great job of capturing that true Boulder feel.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eliza Dery

    This book is set in Boulder Colorado and is about a teenage girl who works at a kite shop on Pearl Street and lives with her mother and younger sister Puck. The mom is rather absent from the lives of her two girls in that she is constantly under the influence of drugs. There fore the two girls are very dependent on each other. Es the older daughter finds solace through Zen meditation and spending time with her friends in wilderness settings. Her and her sisters summer changes when a teenage boy n This book is set in Boulder Colorado and is about a teenage girl who works at a kite shop on Pearl Street and lives with her mother and younger sister Puck. The mom is rather absent from the lives of her two girls in that she is constantly under the influence of drugs. There fore the two girls are very dependent on each other. Es the older daughter finds solace through Zen meditation and spending time with her friends in wilderness settings. Her and her sisters summer changes when a teenage boy named Oliver moves to Boulder over the summer and starts working at the Kite ship. Oliver makes a new life i Boulder while still dealing with complex emotions revolving around his sister who has schizophrenia. He develops feelings for ES and the landscape of Boulder. The height of the story is when Puck goes missing while Es, Oliver and a friend go back packing in the wilderness. This is an awesome story that really captures the Boulder Scene and I love how the other incorporates bits about Zen Buddhism through the four major quarters of the book as well as stories that relate to her characters. It was a very refreshing, complex and uplifting story.

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