First of all, a warning: If you haven’t read Lost and Found, this post will contain the spoiler of all spoilers. Sure, the info might be out on the net, but I’ve never made it readily available to anyone on my website. I’m not kidding– if you want to read the series and get the best experience, don’t read this now. Come back to it later for the discussion. If you’re ready to continue, you may most certainly read on by clicking “Read more” (or if you don’t see that, just scroll beneath the picture).
I was so excited the other night when I stumbled upon an Amazon forum called WTF Endings and saw my book referenced in a post. I was familiar with the name of the person who posted about it. She had posted a review on Goodreads that stuck with me. It was the first (and likely only) three-star review that I really liked. She loved the writing, story, etc… but she hated the last word of the book (and what it alluded to) so badly that she bumped her former five-star review to three. I didn’t fault her.
As you probably know, the last word of Lost and Found is, quite simply, “Nate!” It’s spoken by Emi, and then the book ends. Since Nate is the narrator, it’s pretty self-explanatory what happened. Nate was no longer able to continue his story because he lost his life in a car accident.
The reviewer made one tiny statement that *did* sort of rub me the wrong way. She stated that I wrote the ending for shock value, as if it was a gimmick or something. Nate’s death was not a gimmick, and if I had had my way, this event wouldn’t have been the end of any book, but just a section of one larger tome. Sadly, they can’t really print books that large, so I chopped Emi Lost & Found into three separate books. The different POVs made it easy to split, but I’d never intended for the books to stand on their own. They can (and do), but I didn’t want to do that.
(On a side note, this is why there are intro and exit chapters narrated by Emi that bookend the series. It bothers me that all the books were ‘formatted’ differently, but it was the only way to do it.)
The series is the story. It’s Emi’s story, and although Nate and Jack are major players, the stories clearly revolve around her life and her happiness. When I came up with the plot, Nate’s fate was sealed. In the very first chapter of the novel, you learn about a kiss that steals Emi’s heart… and Nate reveals later that it wasn’t his. Although subtle and maybe not even recognizable until a second reading, it’s a set up so the reader knows that Nate’s really not the one she’s meant to be with. She knows it, but she also knows that Nate is a good man who would always love her. Her decision to be with him wasn’t her settling on him. She cared about him deeply. She loved him. It wasn’t what she’d always wanted for herself, but it was as much as she thought she’d ever get. And that was enough for her.
The reviewer mentioned above and I exchanged some posts about her perception of the book. Her reasons for not continuing the series are valid, but her interpretation of the relationship between Nate and Emi is a little off. She learned to love Nate as he told his story, and wasn’t invested enough in Emi to continue. She made the following statement of Emi as she explained why she didn’t want to continue:
What I do know is that the love of her life – her soul mate – is never coming back.
My response to her was that Nate was not her soul mate, because he wasn’t.
I’ve had lots of conversations about soul mates with my friends and new readers who’ve traveled Emi’s journey with her. Was Emi Nate’s? Was Nate Emi’s? Where does Jack fit in? If you’ve only read Lost and Found, then you probably naturally assume that Nate and Emi are soul mates. Emi was most certainly Nate’s soul mate, and even though he died young, he died happy, because he ended up with the woman of his dreams– the woman who accepted him fully and understood him better than anyone. This was his happily ever after. There was no sadness for him. He got what he always wanted: Emi to return his love. Anything else was just icing on the cake.
So ponder this: Since I’ve said that Emi isn’t his soul mate, how do you think Emi and Nate would have ended up? Jack would have been in their lives because of his friendship with Chris. Maybe Emi would have never had her memory jogged by a ‘transcendent kiss,’ but eventually the details would come out about their brief encounter in college. Would Emi have second thoughts? In her mind, she’d be thinking, “I knew there was something more!” She’d be left wondering. Sure, she loved Nate, but as I said, she always thought it would feel differently. That curiosity would always be there, no matter who she married and had children with. Do I think she would ever have left Nate? No. I think the pain she suffered from her father’s infidelity would have kept her from ever doing anything to hurt Nate or their child. She wouldn’t have wanted to put anyone through what she went through in high school.
That being said, I think Emi and Jack’s chemistry is undeniable. We know Jack is a man who would never be unfaithful or ask anyone else to be unfaithful. They would likely never be together, but Nate and Jack’s wife (let’s just call her Caroline) would see the banter. They’d see the sparks. There would always be a little insecurity in the minds of Nate and Caroline. No one would want this ending– it’s not a happily ever after for anyone. Why deny everyone just so one character who already got everything he wanted could live?
While I was writing this series, I never really saw the obstacles I’d have to overcome with compelling storytelling and good writing. Not only would I have to convince people to continue on with Emi after Nate died, I’d also have to make Jack a character that was better than Nate, who people ended up loving even more than I thought they would. It was only after I started receiving comments about the books from readers that I realized the challenge– and that I also realized I had overcome that challenge (for the most part).
There are a few readers who won’t start Time Stands Still because they love Nate too much. There are a few that won’t finish Time Stands Still because it’s too sad. There are a few who won’t accept Jack as a suitable love interest for Emi. But all of these instance are extremely rare. More often than not, readers have trusted me and allowed me to mend their hearts and end the story with a wonderful happily ever after for everyone. I get feedback on how sad they are that Nate’s gone, but they’re so wrapped up in Emi’s grief that they can’t stop reading. People who were wary of Jack end up loving him even more than Nate (or differently). 😉 A very informal poll on Facebook pitting Nate against Jack revealed that Jack was the clear choice for Emi. Only one person said Nate.
So to the very few who love Nate too much… I’m glad that I created an endearing character that you don’t want to leave behind. If you delete the last word of the book, it can stand on its own and Nate and Emi and their baby live happily ever after. To me, the author and creator, this isn’t even an option because I feel like I’m keeping soul mates from their true destiny. Jack and Emi have an incredible future ahead of them (which you’ll read about in upcoming books), and I can’t deprive them of that– nor would I want to deprive you, the reader, from experiencing the joys they encounter.
Note: You can now purchase all three books in one ebook on Amazon and experience the book the way it was intended to be read. It comes with two bonus short stories, too! If you’re recommending the book to friends, this is definitely the way to go!