Published by Farrar Straus Giroux on September 18, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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Doris--a lone liberal in a conservative small town--has mostly kept to herself since the terrible waterslide incident a few years ago. Nell had to leave behind her best friends, perfect life, and too-good-to-be-true boyfriend in Chicago to move to Alabama. Grant was the star quarterback and epitome of "Mr. Popular" whose drinking problem has all but destroyed his life. What do these three have in common? A summer job working in a store called Unclaimed Baggage cataloging and selling other people's lost luggage. Together they find that through friendship, they can unpack some of their own emotional baggage and move on into the future.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
TW: alcoholism; sexual assault; victim blaming; racism (all are challenged in the story)
Ever wonder what happens to lost luggage that’s never returned to its rightful owner? Well, in the adorable Unclaimed Baggage, we, along with the three main characters, get to find out! When I saw the author would be signing ARCs of Unclaimed Baggage at BookExpo, I immediately made it a priority to pick up a copy. I mean, a book about teenagers working in a lost luggage store? My inner air travel geek was so here for it. And, I’m happy to report, this book did not disappoint!
Unclaimed Baggage follows three main characters– Doris, Nell, and Grant– over the course of their summer jobs at the store in their small town that processes and sells items from lost luggage. We get to read from all three of their perspectives, and I truly appreciated what each had to offer. Doris is the resident non-religious liberal in her tiny Southern town (which was #relatableAF), and she’s constantly challenging the problematic ideals and traditions prevalent in her hometown. Nell has just moved to small-town Alabama from Chicago, so we get an outsider’s perspective. And then there’s Grant, the town’s star quarterback, who’s hiding his struggles with alcoholism from the general public, who all adore him.
Though a friendship might seem unlikely between an outcast, a new girl, and the most popular boy in town, the three quickly become close. And it’s easy to understand why, once you get to know these characters– they’re all intensely loyal, good people. They are always there to support one another, but also aren’t afraid to call the others out on any BS. All three of them are a bit lost in their own ways, much like the luggage they process every day at the store. (Which, by the way, was one of the most fun parts about this story. I loved reading about the characters opening up new bags and discovering what was inside).
All of that being said, Unclaimed Baggage is much more than a feel-good friendship story. It tackles important issues like misogyny, racism, and reproductive rights. Rather than feeling tokenistic, these elements were incorporated very well into the story. I think it’s important for YA to address topics like these, because prejudice (unfortunately) is pretty prevalent right now in our current social and political climate.
Overall, I loved everything about this book. It featured wonderful, healthy friendships, a sweet summer romance, a unique setting, social commentary, and a lovable cast of characters I won’t soon forget. If you love a good YA contemporary, I highly recommend everyone keep your eye out for Unclaimed Baggage when it hits shelves later this month!
Have you read Unclaimed Baggage? If so, did you love it as much as I did? Have you ever visited a store that sells lost luggage?