Unclaimed Baggage by Jen Doll

TW: sexual assault, racism, alcoholism

Three main protagonists, Doris, Nell, and Grant, are followed in Unclaimed Baggage as they work summer jobs at the shop in their tiny town that sorts through and sells goods from misplaced luggage. We got to read from all three of their points of view, and I genuinely valued what they all had to say. In her little Southern town, Doris, the local atheist liberal, frequently questions the problematic values and customs that are prominent there. Nell recently relocated from Chicago to a little town in Alabama, so we get the viewpoint of an outsider. Then there is Grant, the town’s famous quarterback, who keeps his drinking problems hidden from the people who admire him.

Although a relationship involving an outcast, a new girl, and the most popular guy in town might seem implausible at first, the three gradually bond. Once you come to know these characters, it’s simple to see why they become friends since they’re all really loyal, genuine people. While they are always there for one another, they are also not hesitant to call one another’s nonsense. Like the bags they handle every day at the shop, all three of them are a little lost in their own ways.

Despite all of this, Unclaimed Baggage is much more than just a sentimental tale of friendship. It addresses significant problems including racism, reproductive rights, and sexism. These components were expertly woven into the narrative; they didn’t feel tokenistic. Because prejudice is regrettably rather pervasive in today’s social and political context, I believe it is necessary for YA to address issues like these.

Overall, I adored this book in every way. I won’t forget the lovely, healthy friendships, the charming summer romance, the unusual setting, and the endearing array of characters that it contained.

By Teen Reviewer, Maheen