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Lost Children Archive

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  5,809 ratings  ·  1,206 reviews
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
Hardcover, 385 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Crystal The reports are slightly modified from this database...SMH is how it appears in the actual report for HUERTAS-HERNANDEZ, NORA:
The reports are slightly modified from this database...SMH is how it appears in the actual report for HUERTAS-HERNANDEZ, NORA:

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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Now Nominated for the Booker Prize 2019
Unfortunately, this novel illustrates the difference between well-intentioned and well executed: Luiselli writes about the plight of migrants trying to cross the border between Mexico and the US, especially children making this dangerous passage through the desert in hopes of being re-united with family members who work in the States. So this author has a message, and an important one, and there is nothing wrong with selling a message to readers per se,
Lost Children Archive is a 'love it or hate it' kind of book - some readers will admire its allusiveness; others will be turned off by its aloofness. Some will probably just think that it is overstuffed and trying to do too much.

For those expecting a novel tackling the child migrant crisis, be warned: that’s the backdrop, not the main event. In fact it’s about a middle-class marriage dissolving in slow motion on a family road trip, and the effect this has on the couple’s children.

The wife
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019
Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019
Update 29/4/19 - Probably the most glaring omission from the Women's Prize shortlist

This is my new favourite book of the year so far - an original, daring and timely story inspired by the experiences of desperate children crossing the desert border between Mexico and New Mexico and Arizona, and the Apache warriors who made their last stand in the desert.

The framing story describes a road trip the narrator, her
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This might be the best book I've read all year. It's about refugees, lost children, memory, family, and what can truly be captured about a place or moment in time. Personal connections abound - sound capture, archival boxes, Steven Feld, marriage, so much that goes deep and I'll be thinking about for some time.

Here I will place some random quotations, for now.

"Our mothers teach us to speak, and the world teaches us to shut up."

"The thing about living with someone is that even though you see
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: set-in-the-us, 2019
I find the easiest way of evaluating the merit of a novel is simply to ask myself if I could have written it. If the answer is yes I'm left with the conviction it can't have been very good. Well, there's no way I could have written this. It's miles too good!

A husband and wife, drifting apart, take their two children on a working roadtrip from New York to the Mexico border. The husband is researching the last days of the Apache tribe before they were moved onto a reservation and the mother is
I think the books that fall into the 'admired it, didn't like it' camp are some of the hardest to review, and that's exactly how I felt about Lost Children Archive. I think this is objectively a very good book. Valeria Luiselli sets out to do something incredibly ambitious, mixing media forms and offering a wealth of commentary on migration and displacement. But all that said, it left me feeling rather uninspired.

This book and its main narrator are unapologetically aloof, and I think that was
Gumble's Yard
Now longlisted for the 2019 Booker, interestingly alongside one of the other Women’s prize books that I reference in my original review.

As i had already read 10 of the longlist (with two unavailable) at the time it was announced I decided to re read them all in turn. I really enjoyed the experience of a re-read of what I think is an excellent longlist, but in almost all cases felt that I was simply repeating my earlier reading experience. In this case though a second read revealed new aspects
Julie Ehlers
Lost Children Archive is a difficult novel to review; I've been turning it over in my head for more than three weeks now, trying to figure out how to sum up the reading experience. For me, it's first and foremost a road-trip novel; when I think of it now, I think about the family on the road: the places they stayed, the people they interacted with, the sights they saw and the things that happened to them. The road trip is initially described by the unnamed female narrator, wife to the driver of ...more
Hannah Greendale
Idea overshadows execution. Still, there are moments when this book soars.
Eric Anderson
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Lost Children Archive” must have one of the most unusual structures for a novel that I’ve read in a long time. It seems natural that Valeria Luiselli’s first novel written in English would chiefly concern the plight of immigrant children as her extended essay “Tell Me How It Ends” so powerfully laid out this harrowing dilemma. Since politicians often turn immigration into an abstract political debate, Luiselli has a tremendous ability for highlighting and reminding us how this is above all a ...more
* 4.5 *

In all honesty I was not looking forward to picking up the Lost Children Archive , as I thought it was going to be "difficult" and obtuse. To begin with it does appear to be overly filled with references to other novels, riffs on contemporary dance and digressions into such things as space suit design and sound mixology. Typically, I would struggle with this writing style but gradually Luiselli won me over. I became fascinated with this westward journey, the family dynamics and the larger
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
This is a fascinating novel - not what I expected but how could I expect something so unlike anything else I've read? I listened with absorbed attention to the voices of this family traveling cross country - the parents, one a documentarian and the other a documentarist, and their 2 kids, by separate marriages (unrelated by blood). It is tangentially about refugees and lost children crossing the border but mostly it is about a family, their love for each other and their inability to stay ...more
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it


This novel is not one but two narratives. The first narrative is the story of a family travelling to the Apacheria, where the father hopes to record and document sounds from the location that Geronimo and the Apaches lived. The mother also works in acoustics and the two of them met working together documenting sounds and recording a soundscape of New York City. However, their relationship is dying, and this trip could be the final nail in the
Barry Pierce
a really stunning road trip novel that has its finger on the pulse of modern american life. multimedia novels often feel meta for meta's sake but the documents, the archives, and the polaroids in this novel actually aid the narrative immensely, it's so rare that this style of novel works this well.
the 'elegies' presented throughout, for me, harked back to the border writings of Tomás Rivera and Gloria Anzaldúa, two comparisons I do not make lightly! easily one of the best and most essential
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Marvelous, if not plagued by familiar MFA-grad malady

Excellently written, thought-provoking [3.8*] 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
Peter Boyle
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: booker-nominee
I can see why Lost Children Archive has been nominated for awards. It addresses one of the most pressing issues of modern times. It's inventive, it takes risks with form. Not all of them succeed, in my eyes, but you have to give the author respect for trying something different.

The story centres on an American road trip. A woman and her husband, both documentarians, are travelling from New York to Arizona with their children from past relationships - a ten-year-old boy (his) and a five-year-old
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this so much and this is a very ‘me’ kind of book.

Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive is a multitude of stories weaved masterfully into a coherent, all-encompassing story of a family falling apart while the same happens to millions of children and migrants trying to cross the border from latinx countries into the US. Based on real experiences from the author, Lost Children Archive is another addition to the ‘autobiographical fiction’ genre that has found many praise in books such as
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing


I had thought Colson Whitehead's THE NICKEL BOYS had firmly ranked itself as the top book of 2019 and lo and behold Valeria Luiselli came swooping in the very next novel and challenged for the crown with her absolutely remarkable LOST CHILDREN ARCHIVES, a timely depiction of the migrant crisis through the eyes of a family taking a road trip from New York City to Arizona.

In some ways this book is hard to describe or to
Kasa Cotugno
One of my favorite books of this or any other year. This epic is told against the backdrop of the current humanitarian nightmare of parent/child separations at the border, of the inexplicable and indefensible reality of children sometimes only a few months old being incarcerated in cells miles away from families.

A New York couple sets out on the road trip to end all road trips, leaving their NYC home in a vintage Volvo with seven bankers' boxes and the recording equipment which provides their
Here is a (blended) family on the verge of collapse going on a road trip to the southwest to look for--and record--echoes of Geronimo and other tribes that have been "removed" (murdered/contained in reservations on worthless land) and children who have fled their homes in other countries, sent off by families desperate for their safety and are looking for their families in the United States, often dying in the desert as they seek asylum.

There are few names in this novel: the children are
Britta Böhler
I thought the first half was brilliant. In the second half the pov switched to one of the children (the ten-year old boy) and his narration and the development of the story didnt really work for me.
So first half: 5*, second half: 2* = 3.5*
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Luiselli changes her narrator halfway through this novel and that change made the difference in my appreciation of the novel. The author strains a little at times but overall this was a bold attempt.
Daniel Chaikin

One of the best audiobooks I've listened too. Luiselli writes beautifully and she reads it herself with a elegant type of Mexican accent that is perfect for her text. The book, and the audiobook, take an abrupt turn when the fictional son narrates, but it rounds out and works, especially in audio where the voices alternate over the final pages.

When I finished I had a kind of wow feeling, that kind of all over emotional feeling when you just completed something that has you thinking and maybe
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Booker Award Longlist 2019. Luiselli has written a multiple-genre novel begun in 2014 when hundreds of children crossed the American border to enter the United States illegally. It is part essay incorporating passages from actual literary works, photographs, maps and official records to provide depth to her story.

It is also part travelogue as the husband, wife, and two children (both from previous relationships) cross the country from New York City to Arizona. The husband is an acoustemologist
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
While I more or less (grudgingly) enjoyed reading this, there are several 'issues' with it (explicated much more fully in most of my GR friends' reviews, so I am not going to belabor them) - but they include the cipher-like parents at the center of the story; two precocious/bratty kids who both speak wayyyyyy beyond their age level (I was expecting the 10 year old boy at any moment to ask his mother: 'So, tell me Mama, do you subscribe more to the tenets of Derrida or Foucault?'); an overly ...more
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5, rounded up. Beautifully written, intelligent, thought-provoking, innovative and, ultimately, poignant. Reading through reviews here, I can understand others' critcisms, but I was duly impressed - it worked for me.
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a profound look at displacement and the documentation of our shared histories. The characters in the book mainly document their world via sound. With illusions to multiple literary and musical works, this book tells the story of a crumbling marriage and the forced displacement of people, particularly children, via the slave trades, Native American relocations, the orphan trains, and the current migrant situation. While not perfect, it’s still an important work.
May 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I suppose that words, timely and arranged in the right order, produce an afterglow. When you read words like that in a book, a powerful but fleeting emotion ensues.

This passage returned to me again and again as I made my way through “Lost Children Archive”. There were undoubtedly moments of afterglow – some quite powerful – and these are likely to linger. Certain scenes invite reflection and some of the character viewpoints warrant further thought. Luiselli has given me things to contemplate
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019, and one of my favourites on the list.

This is that rare kind of book that uses the novel format – not as a tool to impress upon the reader a specific point-of-view – but rather as a window, a means of looking, through which to observe the world.

In luxurious and languid prose – best consumed at an infinitely gentle pace – Luiselli peels back the layers of her literary triptych. On a micro level, we follow a family on a road trip across the United States. The
Anita Pomerantz
May 15, 2019 rated it liked it
First, let me say that if I were just reviewing the writing of this book alone, it would definitely be in five star territory. I loved the narrative voices, especially of the mother, and the use of language. I also found it interesting how the author used literary references and wove in language and metaphors of other authors. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another book by this author.

All that being said, thematically, I think this book tried way too hard. Ostensibly, the story is about a
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Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City in 1983 and grew up in South Africa. Her novels and essays have been translated into many languages and her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney’s. Some of her recent projects include a ballet libretto for the choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, performed by the New York City Ballet in Lincoln Center in 2010; ...more
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