Who Let the Dogs Out: Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz
Ever since his boyfriend Cody went to a mental hospital, Craig has kept himself busy with a houseful of rescued animals. But one morning he wakes up to find that they are gone. The house has been broken into, and every single dog, cat, and critter has taken off.
Lio is a recent Maryland transplant. His family moved there from NYC after his mom walked out on them. Lio, too, has been left behind in more ways than one. He’s a cancer kid, but the lucky kind, the one who survived. His brother Theo was not so fortunate.
It is a year after 9/11. Everyone is more aware of the randomness of violence than they’d like to be. Then, their fears are pushed over the edge when the Beltway Sniper begins picking people off one by one. It’s not the same as a terrorist massacre, but to those who can’t pump gas or walk to school without fear of being shot, the number of deaths is not particularly significant.
Craig and Lio know plenty about loss already. They are both a little fucked up, as Lio’s therapist would say. Neither is entirely emotionally available–their many issues both attract and repel one another–and yet when their lives intersect, they can’t imagine being without each other.
Hannah Moskowitz’s Gone, Gone, Gone is a snapshot of two fictional lives framed by two very real and memorable events in recent American history. Each character carves out their own space in the novel; Moskowitz reveals a great deal about Craig and Lio through their distinct styles of interior monologue. Craig wants to hide behind a life of noise and chaos; he thinks in run-ons, reflected by stream of consciousness prose. Lio’s thoughts, on the other hand, are more fragmented and carefully constructed. He’s quiet, he says, because his brother was born to talk, and he was born to sing. While Craig’s thoughts are unfiltered, Lio’s run through a fine sieve.
Moskowitz squeezes a lot of subplots into a tight space, but pulls it off remarkably well with their thematic tie-ins. Lio and Craig’s relationships with each other and their families all reveal the characters’ struggles with the unpredictability and magnitude of violence and loss. At times they feel invincible, at others like they could die any minute. Though they know that the odds of a normal, long life are in their favor, this can be difficult to accept when they see people they love and other “normal” people dying all the time. This struggle further reinforces the need, trite as it may be, for both Craig and Lio to find a way to live more fully with whatever time they have.
Gone, Gone, Gone is an odd and beautiful little book with a well-paced plot that both races forward and retreats. As always, Moskowitz excels at evoking tears, but Gone(x3) never veers into melodrama. It is a quiet and thoughtful case study that will be beloved by those who enjoy character-driven fiction. Craig and Lio are characters you’ll want to get to know, characters so achingly imperfect and real and quintessentially adolescent that it is hard to believe they exist only in fiction.