Summary and book reviews of Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst

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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Book Summary

A gentle satire on reality TV, as a mother and daughter face numerous challenges both on and off the show. As the game escalates, tensions mount, temptations beckon, and the bonds between teammates begin to fray. The question is not only who will capture the final prize, but at what cost?

What do a suburban mom and her troubled daughter, two recently divorced brothers, a pair of former child stars, born-again Christian newlyweds, and a couple of young millionaires have in common? They have all been selected to compete on Lost and Found, a daring new reality TV show. In teams of two, they will race across the globe - from Egypt to Japan, from Sweden to England - to battle for a million-dollar prize. They must decipher encrypted clues, recover mysterious artifacts, and outwit their opponents to stay in play.

What starts as a lark turns deadly serious as the number of players is whittled down, temptations beckon, and the bonds between partners strain and unravel. Before long the question is not only who will capture the final prize, but at what cost.

Excerpt
Lost and Found

By the sixth leg of the game, we have accumulated the following objects: a ski pole, a bishop from a crystal chess set, a sheet of rice paper, a trilobite fossil, an aviator's helmet, and a live parrot. Our backpacks are overflowing. I drop the chess piece into a sock to keep it from bumping against anything and chipping. I fold the rice paper into a guidebook. The helmet I put on my head. I hand the ski pole to Cassie. "Ready?" I ask, picking up the parrot's cage.

"Like I have a choice," she says. Our cameraman, Brendan, grins. I know he thinks Cassie makes for great footage. "Okay, then," I say. "We're off."

We leave our hotel room and walk down the hall, Brendan walking backward so he can film us; our sound guy trails behind. In the elevator, the parrot squawks.

"We should give this guy a name," I say to Cassie, holding up the cage.

"How about Drumstick?" Brendan smiles behind his camera. He's loving this.

"How about Milton?" I try. "He looks ...

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, ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Parkhurst could have played these characters for laughs but she doesn't. The low-level satire is directed at the concept of reality TV as a genre, not at the individuals whom she treats with respect. Having said that, she does have a wonderful way of skewing people's characters through a simple, throw away comment.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (383 words).

Media Reviews

Washington Post - Ron Charles

Parkhurst doesn't help her case by delivering all those familiar arguments about the cultural implications of reality TV ... But fortunately, what really interests Parkhurst is quiet, private agonies of love and shame, and on this score she delivers several surprisingly moving stories.

Library Journal

Parkhurst manages to make this a thoroughly enjoyable journey from its enticing start to its completely satisfying ending.

Kirkus Reviews

This novel manages, despite its madcap premise and full-frontal exposure of crass American greed, to deliver several sympathetic characters.... a funny second novel that surpasses her first.

Booklist - Kristine Huntley

Thoroughly original and inventive, peopled with engaging characters, and just plain fun, this second novel deserves to be as big a hit as the reality shows it genially pokes fun at.

Publishers Weekly

The producer asks [the characters], "What have you found?" The answer for readers: heart and wit to spare.

Reader Reviews

Oona

Fun, engaging read
Being a fan of "The Amazing Race", it was fun to read a novel about a similar type of show. I agree with Eric, you should not read this if you have an aversion to homosexuality, as it is a predominant theme. Having said that, there are many ...   Read More

Eric

Lost and Found review
The book lost and found is great-- if you like reality tv, AND don't oppose gays. The book tells about the struggles and highs of the contestants. The characters are especially well developed. The part that didn't work was the show itself. It ...   Read More

Sally Brown

Very shallow
I was astounded that BookBrowse recommended this book. I think it was a very "thin" book. Perhaps 12 to 14 year old readers would enjoy it as beach reading but adults would be sorely disappointed.

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Beyond the Book

Love it or hate it, Reality TV looks like it's here to stay, but it is not the new phenomenon that many imagine. In fact, Reality TV in the USA (as it most resembles the current day format) dates back all the way to 1973 when PBS debuted An American Family which followed the Loud family for seven months (300 hours of film was shot of which only 12 made it to TV) - 10 million viewers tuned in to watch the marital breakup of Bill and Pat Loud and the coming-out of their son Lance.

In fact, the history of the genre goes back even further to programs such as CBS's Wanted (a precursor to America's Most Wanted) which went on air in 1955; and before that was the grand-daddy of all reality programs - Candid Camera. Candid ...

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