Betsy and Liz dub themselves Bumble and Lizard when they become friends in elementary school. And they stay fast friends, a fact Betsy’s mom is not thrilled about, as she worries that Betsy lets Liz have too much control over the relationship. Despite challenges from both their families, they are in a comfortable place in their friendship when they start middle school.
But a crack erupts when Betsy’s mom doesn’t get a grant to continue her research into dying languages. Lizard gets the idea to help by choosing one language in the world on the list of those dying and learning to speak it with Betsy and others. When Betsy’s mom finds out she gets angry, and a spiraling series of events threatens the two girls’ happiness.
The Lost Language by Claudia Mills delves into tough issues difficult to face—loss of trust for parents and friends, betrayal, attempted suicide— and presents them honestly and with compassion that values very different types of people and their emotions. Told in free verse, the book strips language down to the core of what Betsy feels and how she reacts to the circumstances that upend her life. Readers also get an intimate look at how she processes emotions and develops the strength to clearly state what she feels and what she needs from the people she most cares about.
While it deals with dire issues, The Lost Language is ultimately a hopeful story. I highly recommend it for readers aged 10 and up.
The publisher provided me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.