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Publisher's Summary

"Impossibly smart, full of beauty, heart and insight.... Everyone should read this book." (Tommy Orange)

From the two-time NBCC finalist, an emotionally resonant, fiercely imaginative new novel about a family whose road trip across America collides with an immigration crisis at the Southwestern border - an indelible journey told with breathtaking imagery, spare lyricism, and profound humanity.

A mother and father set out with their two children, a boy and a girl, driving from New York to Arizona in the heat of summer. Their destination: Apacheria, the place the Apaches once called home.

Why Apaches? asks the 10-year-old son. Because they were the last of something,answers his father.

In their car, they play games and sing along to music. But on the radio, there is news about an "immigration crisis": thousands of kids trying to cross the Southwestern border into the US but getting detained - or lost in the desert along the way.

As the family drives - through Virginia to Tennessee, across Oklahoma and Texas - we sense they are on the brink of a crisis of their own. A fissure is growing between the parents, one the children can almost feel beneath their feet. They are led, inexorably, to a grand, harrowing adventure - both in the desert landscape and within the chambers of their own imaginations.

Told through several compelling voices, blending texts, sounds, and images, Lost Children Archive is an astonishing feat of literary virtuosity. It is a richly engaging story of how we document our experiences and how we remember the things that matter to us the most. With urgency and empathy, it takes us deep into the lives of one remarkable family as it probes the nature of justice and equality today.

Includes a PDF of visuals from the book.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Valeria Luiselli (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“The novel truly becomes novel again in Luiselli’s hands - electric, elastic, alluring, new.... She is a superb chronicler of children: the daughter and son feel piercingly real - perceptive, irreplaceable, wonderfully odd. The book [is] an archive of curiosities, yearnings, animated by the narrator’s restless energy.... It breaks out of the rhythms of the road trip, into a heart-stopping climax." (Parul Sehgal, The New York Times)

“Daring, wholly original, brilliant...fascinating. What Luiselli has pulled off here is a twist on the great American road trip novel, a book about alienation that chronicles fractures, divides, and estrangement - of both a family and a country. It’s a remarkable feat of empathy and intellectuality that showcases Luiselli’s ability to braid the political, historical, and personal while explicitly addressing the challenges of figuring out how to tell the very story she’s telling. Luiselli is an extraordinary writer [with] a freewheeling novelist’s imagination.” (Heller McAlpin, NPR)

“Engrossing...constantly surprising - a beguiling mixture of the real and the doubly invented; a passionately engaged book [with] intellectual amplitude and moral seriousness, [and] a beautiful, loving portrait of children and of the task of looking after them. The kids are utterly alive, hurling questions and mangling adult signals: we are with the family, inside their Volvo wagon, or looking over their shoulders as they eat in diners and stay in motels. It is a pleasure to be a part of the narrator’s family; just as pleasurable is the access we gain to the narrator’s mind - a comprehensive literary intelligence.” (James Wood, The New Yorker)

What listeners say about Lost Children Archive

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  • Overall
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Ground Control to Major Tom

I consume most of my books on audio at this point, and I feel like sometimes I'm missing out.  For example, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous must be read, whereas, Daisy Jones and the Six was enhanced by the audio experience.  At first I thought this book should be read.  It's narrated by the author, and I found her narration rather flat, though I was utterly enchanted by her mild accent. 

But this is a book about (among other things) the sounds in our lives and after about an hour of listening, I knew this book was designed for audio and nobody could have read it but the author.  This book felt deeply personal - as if she were telling us about this point in her life.  A crossroads where relationships and careers should be examined.  

There's a road trip, the border crisis, history, a girl with a brother, a boy with a Polaroid, a man with mission, a woman with a map and children .... Lost. Found. Other.  

It's a multi-media experience (the audio comes with a 30-page PDF) and great decisions in the audio performance that I feel would have been lost in the reading.  

It was an original story, relateable and beautifully told. 

46 people found this helpful

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Beautiful, heart wrenching, unusual

This book is beautiful but heartbreaking knowing what we know about children in detention camps, families separated, children dying on their impossible journey, but also about the beauty of children’s imaginations and resilience.

14 people found this helpful

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Great Audiobook

Switched from reading this to the audiobook because I was under a deadline to get it finished and had a painting project to do at the same time. What a pleasant surprise! A fantastic audiobook! When the story is about documenting sounds, echoes, stories - how fitting to hear rather than read those stories! So much more powerful as an audiobook!

12 people found this helpful

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Loved the author’s mission but not the book

Found it cold and distant. Though was an interesting notion to call her daughter “the girl” and stepson “the boy”, there was enough of a lack of warmth in this slow, plodding tale that I couldn’t finish it after hours of listening. Could not make it till the end.

10 people found this helpful

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ECHO...O...O...

This novel is not written in the more conventional way. At times it feels more like poetry than prose. It is full of analogies, parallels, correlations and "echos." It's about a family, no proper names are given, on a road trip from New York to Arizona. The why, how and when of the trip are all part of the story.

8 people found this helpful

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Couldn't get into it

I couldn't get past the 2nd chapter... I was bored from the start and I really pushed to myself to get to what everyone else saw with the positive ratings, but that never came. The narrator had no inflection and read the book more like a math teacher than a writer.

3 people found this helpful

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Narratives

I really enjoyed how the voices matched the different narratives in the book. I would definitely recommend this audiobook!

3 people found this helpful

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I absolutely love it

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading and learning characters with strong bonds, adventures that grab your attention, and the topic covering immigrant children trying to find a new home by themselves (the lost children). This book was amazing. I don’t regret choosing this as my free reading book because of how interesting and lovely it is!

3 people found this helpful

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Novela digna de inmigrantes y apaches

Excellently written, thought-provoking tale about deported (and lost) children. The narrative goes between a 30-something woman and her 10-year-old stepson as they and her husband and her 5-year-old daughter (husband's stepdaughter) travel from NY to AZ. The novel is interspersed with stories about deported children and the Apache tribe of native Americans, and is, unsurprisingly, peppered with scathing commentary on past and current U.S. immigration policies.

Unfortunately, the book seems plagued by the familiar MFA-grad malady: the novel's pristine sentences travel well in the clever construction of an *admirable to really good* novel... but appears to ail from a deficiency in real ambition---avoiding risk-taking ensures a novel proofed to ridicule by peers--and a seeming shortage of existential authenticity.

By the end, I found this novel edifying but thought it lacked the primary colors and subtle shading that transform fiction into transcendent art.

7 people found this helpful

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A Downer For Me, I Didn't Finish It



(I am quitting with 6 hours left. At this point in the year 2020, I need something more compelling or interesting to keep my attention.) You apparently either love this audiobook, or less likely, you don't like it at all. The book just never hooked me. I failed to attach to any of the characters, the mother, father, or the children. This is most likely due to the main narrator sounding like a person who was severely depressed. Additionally, the main character, "the nameless mother", was not convincing in her work/scholarly role and for me, I found no reason to be curious about it either. Calling her children "the boy and the girl" was so cold sounding. I felt sorry for the children, too, and wondered if they ever got hugs and kisses on this long, confusing journey of which they knew so little. Yes, the writing at times was very beautiful, but it did not carry the story. The first five hours, for me, felt like looking through wax paper at an old black and white movie of the Great Depression. Perhaps, sadly, that is what the immigration experience is for many people today.

2 people found this helpful