One loss that Aza, the protagonist, experiences is the death of her father, who passed away before the novel’s action begins. She mentions one aspect of the mourning process: attending a camp for children whose parent has died. Aza meets Davis Pickett at “Sad Camp,” the nickname they gave “Camp Spero, this place . . . for kids with dead parents.”
Floating along the river with her friend Daisy, Aza looks up through the tree branches. This brings her father to mind, because branches were one of his favorite images. She keeps her father’s old cell phone as a talisman to remind her of him, sometimes looking at the photographs he took with it.
I still have my dad’s phone. I keep it and a charging cord . . . A ton of the pictures on his phone were of leafless branches dividing up the sky.
Aza’s experience of loss contributes to her helping Davis. He has already lost his mother, and in the novel his father disappears. The two struggle with understanding the cumulative effect of multiple losses.
Every loss is unprecedented. You can’t ever know someone else’s hurt, not really—just like touching someone else's body isn’t the same as having someone else’s body.
After Russell is found dead, Davis decides to move away. Aza contemplates a different kind of loss—the absence of a loved one who is still alive.
I loved him, and I thought, maybe I will never see him again, and I'll be stuck missing him, and isn't that so terrible.