How To Be Lost
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How To Be Lost

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3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  4,693 ratings  ·  553 reviews
To their neighbours in suburban Holt, New York, the Winters family has it all: a grand home, a trio of radiant daughters and a sense of security in their affluent corner of America.But when five-year-old Ellie disappears, the fault lines within the Winters family are exposed.





Fifteen years later, Caroline, now a New Orleans cocktail waitress, sees a photograph of a woman in...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 2nd 2006 by Arrow (first published 2004)
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Melanie
Although it wasn't a very lengthy book (290 pages), I was amazed at how quickly I read it (I think it took 3 days). The story is immediately compelling: five-year-old Ellie disappears from her opulent Long Island hometown, destroying what little sanity her family has left and leaving her two older sisters to forever wonder what has become of her. Many years later, Caroline, the oldest sister, sees a picture of a woman she is sure is her missing sister and embarks on a journey in search of her.

I...more
Stephanie
Feb 19, 2008 Stephanie rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephanie by: Tiffani Nelson
It was hard to get into this book and once I finally did, the ending was a complete let down. So if you don't mind crappy endings and slow starts, this book is totally for you.
Kathy Kubik
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah B.
Terrible writing. I recently heard the author Mavis Gallant say in an interview that she doesn't like reading her early writing because she used to be lazier about her language in a way that makes her cringe now. If Amanda Eyre Ward plans to continue her career as a novelist, she might want to start thinking about this sooner rather than later. Her prose is bland and artless. Sadly, so are her characters, each of which is a stereotype: the lonely mother who covers up her grief with overzealous c...more
adlin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christie
My copy of Amanda Eyre Ward’s novel How To Be Lost came with an unusual guarantee: the publisher promised to refund your money if you didn’t like it as much as The Lovely Bones. I suppose at the time of its publication, comparison to the juggernaut that was The Lovely Bones would seem like high praise indeed. But I won’t be writing to collect my refund, thanks very much. I loved How To Be Lost and, in fact, I think I liked it even more than The Lovely Bones which, in my opinion, started off with...more
Danielle
Wow, excellent book, goes straight to the top of my list (and the first book I've read in a while that I devoured). If I had started this at bed time, I would have read til 3 in the morning. As it was, I read it in one sitting on a long plane ride. Thanks Nadine for mentioning this book(and I'll return the LPL copy at the end of the week). I can't wait to read her first novel! And I hope she writes lots more. A terrific book about a women trying to come to terms with her dysfunctional family (ar...more
Wormie
I don’t think anybody needs help in figuring out how to be lost, but at one point or another we may need help figuring out how to be found, or how to find ourselves. Amanda Eyre Ward’s book, How to Be Lost, is the story of a woman in search of her lost sister who eventually finds herself.

Caroline Winters in the oldest of three sisters. She and her younger sisters live a seemingly charmed life in New York. The family lives in a beautiful home in an expensive neighborhood, but behind the closed f...more
Karessa
I felt this book lacked serious depth. Much of the search for the adult Ellie was unbelievable and seemed like a lot of good luck chances. The other part that bothered me the most was the actual transistion of the abduction. I realize that children abducted may eventually believe their new life is real, but even at 5, I don't think she would have believed that her name was different, and that her dad was different, and her mom was dead all on the first day. Although this part being told from the...more
Ian Laird
This is my first review on Goodreads so I hope it goes well - the standard is so high. Here goes...

Such an evocative word 'lost'. Gone, mislaid, a state of being no longer attainable, forgotten. A litttle girl is lost but her mum is also lost- in a different way. So are her sisters.

How to be Lost has a compelling idea at its core- but the unfolding story never quite matches the promise. Five year old Ellie disappears in unexplained circumstances and Amanada Eyre Ward examines the profound and c...more
Marie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura
So, I feel bad giving this a 2 star rating, because it wasn't a bad book. But the wording was pretty accurate that "It was ok." I think of that as similar to "It wasn't bad." I really feel that someone else might enjoy it a lot more because rather than a kidnapping story it's a story about the main character's relationships with her family and those around her after her sister's loss. However, I don't feel that point was driven home cleverly enough. In her journey to find her sister she encounte...more
Jaime
This book was a very quick, easy read. I would have liked to see more character development with several of the characters. Also, there were many parts of the book, other than the characters, that I was hoping for the author to expand upon that she didn't. I don't want to give details because it will ruin what there is to the book!

I am used to reading many books with very detailed description focused on character development. In a sense, the very things I wished for the author to expand upon in...more
Laura
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lain
I was really disappointed in this book. The premise was terrific -- two decades after the disappearance of her little sister, Caroline Winters sees a photo in a magazine that looks just like her missing sibling. After putting her life on hold (giving up Juilliard in favor of serving drinks in the Big Easy), Caroline must decide whether to give up the half-life she has in favor of finally discovering the truth about her absent sister.

The problem was that I didn't care about a single person in th...more
Mary
I started and finished this book in one night. I have not done so in such a long time. Ms. Amanda Eyre Ward captured my attention with the first few chapters. There is a lot of flashbacks that help move the story along at a steady pace. It reminded me a bit of a lifetime movie that you happened to flip to and truly holds your attention to the very end. I enjoyed it for the most part, although at times I felt that some parts were rather rushed and was not a fan of how the ending. It just ended, j...more
Angie
I really enjoyed the writing and flow of this book. It took just a little bit to get into the flow of the story-telling which changed throughout the book from one character's perspective, to another character's written correspondence, to a recounting of another set of characters' pasts. It was really interesting and kept my attention. Even when I felt like I understood the "mystery" of the book, I was intrigued and a bit on the edge of my seat to see how things would play out. Quite a few beauti...more
Tracie
A story about three sisters, Caroline who is a cocktail waitress in New Orleans, Madeline, pregnant, married and in New York and Ellie, the little sister who was lost when she was five years old. The book explores Caroline's journey to find her sister and herself. The book provides a few twists and surprises but the ending is trite, almost as though the author forgot to finish the book. My favorite line from the book (page 41): "When you are small, if you reach out, and nobody takes your hand, y...more
Melee
I wish the whole book (or at least more of it) had been told from Agnes' perspective (view spoiler) Her letters were my favourite part and I would have loved more. Perhaps even the inclusion of her correspondence with her "Alaskan hunk" would have been a wonderful addition? I just didn't care as much for Caroline's character.
The story as a whole was somewhat lacking... The writing could have been better, as well. But it was an enjoyable, quick read and aft...more
Jeanne
Well-written, and interestingly constructed. I wasn't really grabbed by any of the characters though, despite it being a wrenching story. Too much drinking and smoking going on to make anyone truly likable! And Agnes was just weird. It reminded me a bit of a Jodi Picoult novel in terms of the storyline.

The best thing I can say is I read it in a day, it was almost unputdownable. And that means I read 2 books in one (otherwise busy) weekend. I haven't done that in the longest time, and it felt goo...more
Katie
I'm so mad at this book! I just re-read the back, where it tells you what it's about, and it's hardly like that at all. The story is completely Caroline's, and has hardly anything to do with Joseph, at least. I just feel like I got ripped off...like the story wasn't complete. Most of the time I hate it when authors go too far in depth with their characters, but this book didn't go even an inch into depth, with the exception of Caroline. I feel like I'm missing half of the story!
M
This book reads like a very good example of a college fiction writer's final class project. Which is nice for college, but not so much for a published work. Solid ideas, but mediocre execution. One of those books that makes you say, "Hell, I oughta write me somethin.'" I didn't care one whit about any of the characters. Heck, I never even felt like I got to know them, the writing was so superficial.
Lindsey
The story was only somewhat compelling and I thought the book was poorly written, so much so that I thought anybody could have written it. The sentences were short and choppy, with very little nuance or style. The language tried to be descriptive but again, was overly bland and obvious. A high school student could have written this book.
Jane Glendinning
This book had been on my shelf for some time. When I finally started reading it, it was obvious to me who recommended it. I like character driven novels, and every single recomendation by the owner of a local bookstore has been spot on. I couldn't wait to get back to the characters in this book and find where they were headed.
Katherine
Found this buried on a shelf as we are cleaning out. Didn't remember whether I had read it or not...could be a bad sign. Thought that the storyline was interesting but the writing didn't thrill me. Quick and easy read for me on Christmas break for educational policy reading so at least entertaining.
Judy
I enjoyed this and found it an easy, quick read - I've been looking for those lately after getting bogged down in a couple of longer and more demanding books. I liked the style of writing, but didn't always find the story completely believable and don't think it will stick in my mind for very long.
Lauren
This was perhaps the worst book I have ever read. I was compelled by the mystery to finish it, which was a mistake. I felt like it was saturated in references to alcohol and hard liquor, and was just generally left feeling like it didn't deliver anything of value.
Scout
3.5 This was an interesting read. The writing flows so effortlessly that I had trouble putting it down. It's all about a family dealing with the loss of a child. Not morbid or graphic, thank goodness.
Wendy
This was an enjoyable read. It was nice to read an engaging mystery that did not involve horrific violence, murder, or anything too scary. The relationships between the sisters were beautiful and real.
Amy
Caroline drinks too much and has a strained relationship with her mother, Isabelle, and sister, Madeline. Her little sister Ellie vanished sixteen years earlier, and no one in the family has recovered. Isabelle thinks she sees Ellie's picture in a magazine and begs Caroline to search for her, while Madeline wants to help the police prosecute her alleged killer by declaring Ellie dead.
HOW TO BE LOST is the story of a family that was never whole before Ellie's disappearance, but since she disappe...more
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Amanda Eyre Ward was born in New York City in 1972. Her family moved to Rye, New York when she was four. Amanda attended Kent School in Kent, CT, where she wrote for the Kent News.

Amanda majored in English and American Studies at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. She studied fiction writing with Jim Shepard and spent her junior fall in coastal Kenya. She worked part-time at the Will...more
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“When you are small, if you reach out, and nobody takes your hand, you stop reaching out, and reach inside, instead.” 23 likes
“Is reading a sport?” 10 likes
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