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Lost Between Houses

by David Gilmour

David Gilmour’s Lost Between Houses is the transitional tale of one 15-turning-16-year-old Simon Albright, a private school kid in 1960s Toronto. While the book is billed as a novel and not a memoir, much of the book leaves the impression not – as the first-person narration might suggest – of a young man telling the reader about his life as he lives it, but of an older man trying to recapture or remember his youth.

Ironically, what gives this otherwise unremarkable entry into the coming-of- age genre some life are observations that are clearly the product of a mature imagination: what it’s like to sleep beside a new girlfriend for the first time, or the intuitive radar of good waiters.

The character of Simon, however, is largely unsympathetic and unbelievable, and the supporting characters add little of interest to the story. While the awkwardness of youth is fairly well captured, one suspects that the author’s urge to accurately recall private school life circa 1960s Toronto may have prevented him from taking more interesting fictional turns: Simon’s attempts to run away to the States or break into Bishop Strachan private school to see his snooty girlfriend lead to the inevitable punishments, not to unpredictable or engaging outcomes. And the novel’s ending, concerned with the subplot of Simon’s depressed father, held little surprise, dampening the intended sense of growth in the face of tragedy. Ultimately, the novel is a somewhat enjoyable story of “rich little pricks” (in Simon’s words) that might have made more interesting reading had it not tried – and largely failed – to get inside the mind of youth.