Reading guide for Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst

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Lost and Found

A Novel

by Carolyn Parkhurst

Lost and Found
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2006, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2007, 320 pages

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Lost and Found moves between the points of view of several different characters. Which of the characters' backstories were most compelling to you? Which characters did you root for? Were there any characters you didn't want to win?
  2. At the beginning of the novel, Cassie says, "They picked us because they think we're this big mother-daughter bomb ticking away with secrets, and they're just waiting for us to explode" (page 18). In what ways are the various contestants pressured to reveal their secrets? Are these revelations ultimately cathartic, or do you think the characters would have been better off if they'd been able to keep their secrets private?
  3. The rift between Cassie and Laura seems, at first, beyond repair. How do they find their way to reconciliation? What does Cassie learn about being a daughter — and being a mother? How does Laura's approach to her relationship with Cassie change?
  4. What is the secret Juliet is hiding? How does her interaction with Cassie over the course of the novel change her perspective? Do you think this change will "stick," or will she go back to being her old self?
  5. Carolyn Parkhurst once said that Abby and Justin initially were minor characters, but that she then began to think more deeply about them, wondering, "Why would this couple feel they needed to change something so fundamental about themselves as their sexuality?" How was that question answered in the novel? Did you think Abby and Justin's marriage had any chance of succeeding?
  6. Justin is the more dogmatic partner of the couple, but he is also the one who gives in to temptation. Is he just a hypocrite, or is there something deeper to his personality? Do you leave the book feeling any sympathy for him?
  7. What do you think accounts for the current popularity of reality television? If you watch reality television, which programs do you watch, and what do you find most compelling about them? Did Lost and Found feel like a plausible portrayal of what might happen behind the scenes? And if you don't watch shows of this type, what turns you off about them?
  8. What do you think lies in store for the novel's principal characters after the close of the book? Will Cassie be happy in high school? Will Justin learn to accept himself as he is? What will happen to Juliet? How do you think the winners will spend the money?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Back Bay Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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