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A Field Guide to Getting Lost

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A girl with a passion for science and a boy who dreams of writing fantasy novels must figure out how to get along now that their parents are dating.

Sutton is having robot problems. Her mini-bot is supposed to be able to get through a maze in under a minute, but she must have gotten something wrong in the coding. Which is frustrating for a science-minded girl like Sutton—almost as frustrating as the fact that her mother probably won’t be home in time for Sutton’s tenth birthday.

Luis spends his days writing thrilling stories about brave kids, but there’s only so much inspiration you can find when you’re stuck inside all day. He’s allergic to bees, afraid of dogs, and has an overprotective mom to boot. So Luis can only dream of daring adventures in the wild.

Sutton and Luis couldn’t be more different from each other. Except now that their parents are dating, these two have to find some common ground. Will they be able to navigate their way down a path they never planned on exploring?

224 pages, Hardcover

First published April 14, 2020

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Joy McCullough

14 books295 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 122 reviews
547 reviews5 followers
October 18, 2022
Trigger Warning: Dangerous representation of food allergies. Do NOT recommend for food allergic kids. (And I know, because I actually have life-threatening food allergies, which the author seemingly does not, based on the poor representation in the book.)

tl; dr: OwnVoices representation of Disability is vital. This book appears to have been written by someone who does not have life threatening allergies, yet there is a POV character with that medical condition, and the representation of what it's like to live life with allergies is not accurate or sensitive to the reality of what it's like to be a person with the condition.

I have life-threatening allergies. I also have a child with the condition. I've been waiting years, decades even, to see positive representation. This book is not it. Pop culture sucks at depiction of allergies. Allergies are shorthand for 'this character is a nerd' or we're used for a cheap laugh. Or, my least favorite: surprise, this character who supposedly had allergies, doesn't actually have them, and all their problems magically disappear by the end of the book. Reading these depictions always makes me feel like someone came up and punched me in the stomach. And that's exactly how I felt after reading this book.

In my experience there has NEVER been a nuanced treatment of allergies. Never. And so I was hopeful when I read the description of this book. Maybe, maybe there would finally be a character exploring what it's really like to walk through the world with this serious, life-threatening condition. So I am profoundly disappointed and hurt by the fact that once again, here's a character written by someone who's clearly never experienced anaphylactic shock, writing our experience, taking our place in the very, very limited publishing world, doing it so poorly, and in a way that could actively harm kids.

Here's an example. The character who has allergies is named Luis. His allergies are serious, we're told. He carries an EpiPen, and he's visited the emergency room so many times that he's on a first name basis with the nurses. So in the opening scene of the book, when he's in distress (supposedly, though he's not actually in anaphylactic shock so I'm not exactly sure why he's being rushed to the hospital... honestly, it's nonsensical) he's not thinking about what could happen to him physically if his reaction were to escalate. He's not thinking about the excruciating pain, or the feeling of impending doom as his airways close, or the terror of a reaction and the fact that HE COULD DIE. No, he's worried about inconveniencing his mom.

It is heartbreaking to me, a person with allergies, that this is the framing used in the book. Because the fact of the matter is that we're often made to feel like we are an inconvenience. The author could have used this framing device, and then pushed back on it later in the book and had Luis come to a realization that indeed he has inherent value. His medical concerns are the important thing, not his mom being inconvenienced. But the author doesn't address it at all. She's literally made the entire framing for this character's journey about the inconvenience the allergies present to the caretaker of the allergic person, not the challenges the person with the allergies faces in navigating the world.

When he does think about the physical symptoms of anaphylaxis, he thinks about being "itchy." That's it. Itchy. Then, at the very end of the book, there's a passing reference to numbness in his fingers. That's what we get for representation of the terrifying, excruciating experience of anaphylaxis.

How did this book make it through the editorial process in this form? Did the author only consult parents of allergic people, not ... ya know... actual people with allergies?

And here's another example. Luis decides he wants to go to the corner store by himself, a first. And he manages to convince his mom to let him do it by promising to make good choices. Success! So he trots out the door on his own and then as soon as he's out of sight, he encounters a dangerous situation: a garden buzzing with bees, which he's allergic to. Now, does Luis make the safe choice? No, he does not. Instead of backtracking to the corner, crossing the street and taking a safe route, he plows on ahead, through the swarming bees, putting his life at risk. (Note: Would a person who's experienced anaphylactic shock from a bee sting even make this decision? No one I know would, because again, the prospect of excruciating pain and that whole bit with thinking that you're going to die tends to make you a cautious individual in cases like these, but what do I know, I'm only a person who actually has this medical condition.) So why does Luis make this horrible decision? Because if he backtracks his mom might see him from the window and then she'll panic about why he came back so soon and she'll rush out and he doesn't want to worry her. So again, the child is more focused on his mother's discomfort and convenience than his own safety.

This is exactly the WRONG MESSAGE to be sending kids with allergies. But the author never challenges this in any way. She never has the kid think, oh yeah, maybe being mature enough to be out on my own means I'll have to actually make the safe decisions even if they worry my mom.

There's a nuanced conversation to be had about allergic individuals finding balance in their lives and learning to advocate for themselves and weigh the relative safety of various options. That's part of learning to live in an allergic body. But the author doesn't deal with any of this, again making it very clear that she doesn't suffer from this medical condition herself, and that she did not do enough research to make this book a fully fleshed out representation of the issue.

And yet another example. The culmination of the book is a potluck meal, which any allergic person knows is an absolute minefield. So Luis attends the meal and the woman making the majority of food tells him every single ingredient in the dishes, and he simply takes her word for it all being safe and dives right in. I mean, that's laughable. The number of times I've been exposed or almost exposed at a potluck is HUGE. Food allergic people learn very early that there are no safe choices at a potluck. People can be well-meaning, but they always forget about that one ingredient and then BOOM, you're in anaphylactic shock in front of a whole crowd of people. Oopsy doodle, did I say there weren't any nuts in that dish? There aren't, except I did use almond extract. You're not allergic to THAT, are you? Or the food is indeed safe, look, there's even an ingredient list right next to it, but then someone else comes up and plunks a dirty serving spoon in it and BOOM, you're in anaphylactic shock. It's clockwork. Potlucks are not safe. But the author chose to make this the capstone of the book? An inherently unsafe situation, and a child who has apparently not learned any lesson in the book about making good decisions. Because honestly, that's what life is like as a person living with food allergies: making hard, potentially embarrassing decisions in order to avoid a deadly situation. Reading that scene was like a slap in the face.

(Parents of food-allergic kids, this is the task of your life. Teaching your child to make the safest possible decisions for themselves. Coping with your own anxieties without burdening your child, because frankly, there's enough anxiety in the food-allergic person's life, and they do not need to be worrying about you worrying. They just don't. Because if this book shows us anything, it's that if the food-allergic kid is worrying more about their parent (or their girlfriend or their buddy or their coach...) than themself, it can cause them to make less safe decisions for yourself. This issue KILLS people. That is a reality, though the author seems to have stumbled onto it accidentally.)

But this book lacks all insight into that core reality of the allergic individual's life. In fact, the suggestion the book makes is actively dangerous for food-allergic kids.

Once again, I am profoundly sad and frustrated and, frankly, angry that the reality of life as a food-allergic individual is reduced to caricature on the page. We deserve better. Do NOT recommend this book to someone with food allergies. Its messages will undermine their safety, and no one else with allergies deserves to be made to feel that the most significant part of their medical condition is that they're an inconvenience to their family and friends.
Profile Image for Ms. B.
2,908 reviews34 followers
August 1, 2021
3.75 stars, Sutton's Dad is dating Luis's Mom. Now their parents want them to meet (and hopefully get along). Almost ten Sutton is a loner who likes science and logic; she is building a robot. Luis prefers science fiction and fantasy and would love to have more friends. It's difficult when you are allergic to multiple things. What happens when the two meet? Told in alternating chapters between the two.
Give this one to the elementary aged students in your life who like stories about families and (possibly future) siblings. Being the story is set in Seattle, I would also share this with kids who are familiar with the city as many places and neighborhoods are mentioned throughout it.
Profile Image for Rajiv.
959 reviews64 followers
May 3, 2020


This was a very fun short middle grade story to read! It is always difficult to adapt to any changes in our routine lives. Hence, I loved how the author tackled the subject of children adapting to their parent’s dating lives.

There characters are unique and well written. Initially I did not like Sutton that much. I thought she was too bossy and close-minded and did not like the idea of change. However, the author progressed the story in such a nice manner. Similar to Luis, we also start to see Sutton open up. Luis is wonderful in his own way. Even though he faces a lot of problems with his allergies, he puts up a brave front and is ready for any adventure. I think Luis is a role model for anyone to inspire to on being brave and overcome their fears.

There are many other things which I appreciated in the story. For instance, I liked the diversity that the author provides in the story. Some of Sutton’s neighbors are Muslim, Chinese and Indian. As an Indian, I loved that the author showcased some of the traditional Indian dishes, and did not stereotype the characters in anyway. On a side note, I also loved Penelope’s adventures and hope the author writes them as companion novels to this book. The author also makes some references and recommendations of other fantasy middle grade novels. I liked how Sutton spoke about robotics with such an enthusiasm to spark interest for the reader on the same.

Even though it is a bit predictable as to how this story would turn out, I enjoyed reading it! I would love to read a follow up book on Sutton and Luis and the challenges they faced if their family moved in. Overall, I this this book was delightful to read!
Profile Image for Terry.
433 reviews93 followers
May 9, 2020
A great book, great story, great author and a great read! For the young and the young at heart! Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Alex  Baugh.
1,954 reviews108 followers
August 4, 2020
The thing about robotics and coding that nine-year-old homeschooled Sutton Jensen likes is that is it always black and white - if you code correctly, your program responded as expected. Not like a mom and dad who marry and then get divorced, or a mom who's always off studying emperor penguins in Antartica and who sometimes misses big events in Sutton's life. Hopefully, she'll make it home for Sutton's upcoming 10th birthday. And now her dad Martin is dating a woman named Elizabeth and it's starting to get serious. He's finally taking her out for a fancy dinner. To ask her something?

Elizabeth's son Luis is also a bit uncertain about his mom dating Martin. But their first big dinner date does mean he gets to go on his first ever sleepover. Luis, who lost his dad to cancer when he was two, has serious, very serious food allergies and ends up in the hospital in the middle of his sleepover, ending his mom's date thanks to some guinea pig food. Luis is a regular at the hospital, and everyone knows him. Back home, his mom suggests a visit to the Museum of Pop Culture, one of Luis' favorite places. And Luis suggests they invite Martin and Sutton. But as much as Luis enjoys the MoPOP, Sutton is totally disinterested, after all, Luis' favorite Star Wars exhibit is science fiction, not real science.

Clearly, Sutton and Luis have nothing in common, but Martin, who was very unhappy with Sutton's behavior at the museum, and Elizabeth decide to try getting the kids together again, and take them on an outing hiking in the woods at Discovery Park. Not really wanting to go, both kids nevertheless try a little harder to make the outing less disastrous than the first one. Then Luis spots a "narrow opening in a dense thicket of bushes," and imagines it's a secret passageway to another world. The opening is too small for adults, but the parents encourage the kids to explore it, and head to what they think will be the other side to meet them.

But when Luis and Sutton take a wrong turn at a dead end and get lost, will they be able to join forces to find their way out and back to their parents?

A Field Guide to Getting Lost is narrated by both Sutton and Luis in alternating chapters, so that readers know each child's thoughts and reactions to their parents increasingly serious relationship, and to each other. And they couldn't be more different. Sutton is logical, all science and robotics, and a Ravenclaw. Luis has a great imagination which he turns into stories, and, like Martin, is a Hufflepuff. Despite also being a Ravenclaw, I didn't really like Sutton at first, but as she grew, she also grew on me and I began to see that change is hard for her, and she retreats into science as a way of dealing with disappointment. Sutton is apparently white, but lives in a diverse neighborhood, including Muslim, Chinese, and Indian neighbors. And I would love to try some of Mrs. Banerjee's golden milk when things get rough.

I did like Luis right off the bat. Despite his life-threatening allergies that really limit what he can do, Luis is not homeschooled as you might expect for a person with his health problems, but he does carry an epipen. Luis also has a great attitude and I liked how he used his imagination to take him to places he couldn't otherwise visit through his character Penelope Bell. Luis is part Guatemalan on his dad's side, and part white on his mom's side. And even though he doesn't speak Spanish anymore, he keeps in touch with his abuelos who live there.

On the whole, I thought Sutton and Luis' story was delightful to read, and even when they were lost, they weren't in real danger, just enough to let them get to know each other better and learn to appreciate and respect their differences. This very relatable book will definitely appeal to the younger age middle graders.

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was gratefully received from the publisher Simon & Schuster
Profile Image for Jessica Lawson.
Author 6 books105 followers
July 28, 2019
Holy smokes, my full review is coming, but for now, just know that I LOVE this book for so many reasons. The VOICE, the HUMOR, the everyday DETAILS (the kind that make you feel like you're walking around a scene), THE CHARACTERS, and especially the HONESTY about some hard, hard topics that I know (from personal experience) are very hard to endure. Sutton and Luis are two very different kids whose parents have started dating. That's not just awkward--it's ...well, it's really hard--because both of them have other things that make life challenging. But children are some of the most emotionally resilient people I've encountered in life--Sutton and Luis are no exceptions. They're an inspiration. This was a fun read that made me want to buy a compass necklace for everyone I know. More plot-based gushing to come...
Profile Image for Cara (Wilde Book Garden).
1,039 reviews57 followers
March 14, 2022
I finally feel a little bit less like a fraud because I've finally read another book by this author who wrote one of my favorite novels 😂 (Blood Water Paint)

I really liked this! much more than I was expecting to, actually, given that I thought the premise involved camping (it doesn't). I loved watching Sutton and Luis slowly warm up to each other and begin to be friends, and I loved all the bookish references on Luis' side. Sutton at first felt very "standard" in that she was the science one who didn't like fantasy, who liked robots, who talked a certain way, etc. But her portrayal got much more complex as the book went on.

Also I can't tell if Sutton is meant to be autistic or not - I really wish more authors would specify that explicitly rather than just coding or implying it.

Overall, a quick and engaging read that handled complicated family dynamics with grace and heart - and that managed to make the relationship between their parents something I actually cared about! (I'm not a fan of "second attachments" because I am apparently Marianne Dashwood, lol)

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Tara Sands, who was fine except for a couple of the accents which seemed a little off or overdone.

**I do want to mention that readers with experience have pointed out that this book is NOT an accurate portrayal of a kid with life-threatening allergies, so keep that in mind!

CW: Hospital visits, allergic reactions, grief, references to cancer
Profile Image for Danielle Hammelef.
1,017 reviews124 followers
April 14, 2020
This book will be a guaranteed winner with all readers. This novel, told in alternating dual perspectives of Sutton and Luis, has an authentic middle grade voice that readers will immediately connect to and relate to as the author never pulls her reader out of character. The supporting characters--the parents, friends, and neighbors are also so real, so supportive, so loving and involved that I wanted to be in their lives.

Set in Seattle, one of my favorite cities, the setting details pop throughout the book--from the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of delicious foods--and make reading this novel seem as if I was there while the action unfolded.

The characters in this book deal with difficult things and each learns that there is not one right way to find answers. They learn to accept having to ask for help, being brave and facing their own fears, and learn to find common ground to work together. I highly recommend this for all readers with it's humor and heart.

Profile Image for Sarah Sammis.
7,242 reviews215 followers
June 6, 2020
A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Joy McCullough is set in Seattle. Sutton and her father live in the same apartment building as her mother. But her parents are divorced and her mother is usually absent — down in Antartica studying penguins. Meanwhile, Luis and his mother live across town. Luis has terrible, life threatening allergies. Luis and Sutton's parents are dating and now they want the children to meet.

CC6666 - siblings home offroad

Profile Image for Sharon Roat.
Author 4 books329 followers
August 26, 2019
Kids are gonna love Luis and Sutton! (Adults will also love these kids... I did!) This book just feels good. I read an advance copy and can't wait for this story to be out in the world making the world a better place.
Profile Image for Stormi (StormReads).
1,791 reviews159 followers
May 2, 2020
I had seen this one when I was looking for middle grade books for my anticipated list, it didn't make the cut but I still kind of wanted to read it and I am so glad I found this on hoopla because it was really cute. 

Sutton is a science girl who is trying to code a small robot into doing what she wants it to and getting really frustrated that she can't figure out a piece of code. Luis loves to write about adventures and doing thrilling things but he can't do them himself because he is allergic to a lot of things. Then Sutten and Luis find out their parents are dating and sort of get shoved together and have nothing in common. Sutton's dad wants her to try and get along with his girlfriend and tries making some family get togethers but things don't go so well. 

On one of the outings they decide to go hiking and this will be the most outside time Luis has ever gotten. It turns out to be more of an adventure than he thought it would be when him and Sutton get lost and separated from their parents. During this time of trying to figure out how to get back to the parking lot they find out how to help each other, Sutton using her scientific mind and Luis using his imagination. 

It's told in two povs switching between the two kids and it was fun getting to know both kids and their fears and specialties. I really liked both Sutton and Luis as they both had things about them that made them fun and interesting. It was a great story of discovering your full potential and making new friends. I don't normally read a lot of contemporary middle grade but I am glad I gave this one a try! I would definitely recommend it.
Profile Image for Betsy Wolf.
297 reviews
March 20, 2021
This was a really sweet book told from two perspectives. Sutton’s parents are divorced and her dad has started dating. She’s into coding and has very few friends, and he wants her to be more into people than pixels. Louis’s mother is widowed and has been busy taking care of his many allergic reactions and general clumsiness. He knows the ER staff by name. Of course Louis & Sutton’s parents are dating and hoping the two can get along.

We listened to the audiobook and were generally entertained by the story but when we got to the last fourth of the book we were really hooked and wished we could drive another 30 minutes to finish it. It’s definitely a feel-good story. Both Louis and Sutton had moments at the end where they acted bravely and sacrificially for each other and I think any kid could benefit from reading about people their age who put others before themselves. It’s good for adults, too. 😊
Profile Image for Maria McGrath.
131 reviews11 followers
November 11, 2020
Luis and Sutton are beatifully earnest characters trying to get along as best they can despite the obstacles life has thrown at them. Luis, a budding writer, feels his life tightly circumscribed by life-threatening allergies and a loving but (rightly) concerned mother. Sutton sees herself as a scientist like her faraway mother, often feels more comfortable with pixels than people, and fears that her primary caregiver, her dad, may be slipping away thanks to a new romantic interest.
As Luis's mom and Sutton's dad get more and more involved, their kids will are thrust together, too. The story is told in third person but alternates point of view between Sutton and Luis, and I feel it captures the feelings of upper elementary schoolers skillfully. The supporting characters, a diverse crew of neighbors and friends, are surprisingly well drawn as well. A solid read that encompasses topics as diverse as robotics, creative writing, Indian food, and how to read a compass.
Profile Image for Mrs. Mazzola.
258 reviews15 followers
November 14, 2020
Great story about two kids who get thrown together when their parents begin dating. Their awkwardness and quirky behaviors are captured realistically and with care and I was happy to see a kid with severe allergies as a main character, but the allergies were not the focus of his story. The "adventure" (the getting lost part of the story) is light, perfect for readers who want a gentle story with a happy ending. I also like that the story is told in alternating perspectives and each chapter is short making it accessible for lots of readers. Definite purchase for my library.
Profile Image for Connie T..
949 reviews4 followers
December 10, 2020
A feel good book about two very different kids seeking common ground and learning to work together, all because their parents are dating. Sutton is a little stand-offish (I wonder if she's on the spectrum?) and Luis wants nothing more than to fully engage in life, despite his limitations. On the surface, they have nothing in common but they're willing to do what it takes to get along. (Experience tells me most kids would grumble!) Multicultural and multigenerational characters add to the appeal.
Profile Image for Kate Merolla.
208 reviews1 follower
April 28, 2020
This is such a funny and sweet middle-grade novel.

I loved seeing how Sutton and Luis become a part of each other’s life. In general, the friends and family who surround these kids are great. And the Seattle backdrop almost takes on a life of its own, too.

Thank you to Joy McCullough, Atheneum (Simon & Schuster) and Goodreads Giveaways for my copy.
Profile Image for Theresa.
300 reviews32 followers
March 24, 2021
I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways and what a delightful story. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading more from this author.
Profile Image for Amy.
167 reviews
January 1, 2022
Quite enjoyable! And most likely relatable to a number of kids. I can imagine my 10-year-old self rereading it outside until the sun sets...
Profile Image for Mahi Senthilkumar.
36 reviews10 followers
May 1, 2020
This middle grade novel made me cry, cheese at the ceiling from cuteness, and most importantly re-upped my appreciation for young kids as characters and as readers. Wish I had been introduced to more books like this as a kid
Profile Image for Stacy Renee  (LazyDayLit).
1,890 reviews90 followers
August 14, 2021
3.5 stars

Listened to the audiobook. 4 hours long.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost is a middle-grade contemporary about two kids who have completely different interests and personal obstacles that are brought together when their dating parents take them on a hike where they promptly separate and end up lost.

Sutton's mother is off researching penguin migrations in Antarctica and Luis' father has been deceased for years. Sutton is homeschooled and Luis has deadly allergies, so they are both quite different. When their parents start getting serious, they both realize that they will have to make an effort to get along, though perhaps begrudgingly, and they come together despite their differences to find a way out of the predicament that life has thrown at them.

This is a rather simple contemporary read for young readers that highlights separated families, absent parents, and overcoming fears.

This review was originally shared on Lazy Day Literature.
198 reviews5 followers
November 10, 2019
Thank you to the author and publisher for sharing an ARC with Collabookation.
Sutton loves robotics, lives with her dad while her mom is far away collecting data on penguins, and is homeschooled. Luis lives with his mom, loves writing adventure stories, and is allergic to everything.
Both protagonists are working through some things: Sutton's mom being away is getting to be a challenge. Sutton's dad is a wonderful caretaker, but having her mom away for her birthday is hard for her to digest. Luis' allergies mean his mom hovers and his freedom is limited. All of these characters are charismatic and compelling.
Enter a new relationships between Sutton's dad and Luis' mom, and readers get some wonderful perspective on just how hard it can be to be yourself in stressful situations!
If you loved Two Naomis, this book is a must. Chapters alternate between Sutton and Luis, creating that perfect combination of perspective to help the reader understand motive and general awkwardness.
What I loved the most was Sutton's lack of social grace. She's an awkward kid, who has a scientific mindset - always thinking logically: if, then. But a potential merge in her family structure throws her whole world off-kilter. At every strange and fairly painful interaction, I could see how her behavior was interpreted, and I wanted to help her out. However, she figures it out for herself, and everyone wins!
I highly recommend A Field Guide to Getting Lost to fifth graders and up.
Profile Image for Wrenn Nicodemo.
133 reviews1 follower
April 4, 2023
This is the heartwarming story of two kids, Sutton and Luis, whose parents have recently begun dating. The story is told from alternating points of view: Sutton, a science-minded girl who is laser-focused on coding a mini robot, and Luis, a creative boy writing his own novel who really suffers from severe allergies. The pacing of the plot is good in that the story is centered around two attempts (by the dating parents) to have a "family" activity. The first outing is a flop but soon followed by a second outing that leads to Sutton and Luis getting lost, a situation that forces them to work together. There are other interesting characters that add some diversity. There are also intriguing backstories on the "other" parent of both Sutton and Luis, which I think young readers will relate to. Overall, while this book is entertaining, the concrete details are what I think really add some richness. For example, Sutton's neighbor Mrs. Banerjee makes a comforting drink called golden milk: "spices and honey stirred into warm milk, which bloomed a brilliant yellow when she added a spice called turmeric." Other details get equal attention. And, of course, there's a dog (named Moti) who plays the small but important role of, well, the dog. I like books with dogs (as long as they don't die). This book is going right into my elementary school library, and I think it will be a hit.

Note: I received this book for free in a giveaway on this site.
Profile Image for Danielle.
880 reviews
December 14, 2020
"Just because coding was based in logical cause and effect didn't mean there was only ever one way to do something. In fact, there was almost always more than one way to arrive at a solution."

I really wanted to like this middle grade book. It has the most darling little cover, but the book just didn't hold up. It felt like the exposition of the story went on and on and on and the actual part about getting lost (as the title would suggest) was more of an afterthought that took place over halfway through. The pacing of this book left quite a bit to be desired, and it really disappointed me. Sutton wasn't an overly likeable character, although Luis was. I guess I just didn't quite buy that this one experience in the woods totally changed their entire relationship. I'm not the target audience for this one, but this is a prime example of why I tend to stay away from middle grade books.

This book would be appropriate for kids grades 3-7. I think past 7th grade the characters will be too young and babyish for readers.
Profile Image for Michelle.
322 reviews
March 22, 2020
I have been looking for more titles with blended families for the Library and this book fits the bill perfectly. A Field Guide to Getting Lost is a gently told story about two children who become friends after learning their parents are dating and ready to make their relationship more official. A Field Guide to Getting Lost is one of those wonderful stories full of diverse and relatable characters that will appeal to a wide range of audiences. Not only do we have families who have dealt with the death of a parent and divorce, immigration and separation, Sutton is a neurodiverse robotics prodigy and Luis, a fantasy writer who lives with severe food allergies. Each child has amazing gifts and strengths but also struggles with fitting in and overcoming their fears. Due to the many sensitive topics within this story, you may want to give it a read first before giving it to a younger reader who has dealt with divorce or parental death.
In A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Sutton and her father live in a tight-knit community in Seattle. After learning her mother won't be home from Antarctica in time for Sutton's tenth birthday, Sutton's anger and disappointment is overshadowed by her uncertain feelings about her father's new romantic relationship with a woman named Elizabeth. Her parents have been divorced for many years and while she always knew it was a possibility, the reality of a new relationship leaves Sutton feeling replaceable. When her father invites her along on a family date with Elizabeth and her son Luis, Sutton tries her best to be friendly but is uncertain how to answer all of Luis' questions.
Luis, the only child of Elizabeth, has few memories of his father who died when he was very young. His severe allergies have made he and his mother incredibly close and he wants to be supportive of his mother's new relationship but is unsure how to act around Sutton. Her short answers and lack of pop culture knowledge leave Luis feeling uncertain about the future.
When the two families attempt another day trip to learn more about each other, a mysterious tunnel in the woods leave Luis and Sutton separated from their parents and forced to work together to find their way back to civilization.
This is a wonderful story of friendship, overcoming fears, and understanding that families come in all shapes and sizes. As I am in a very rural area, the descriptions of Seattle, with it's farmer's markets and community gardens will be knew for my children. Large apartment buildings aren't as common here so it will be interesting to see the kid's reactions to reading about walking down the hall to a favorite neighbor or upstairs to a friend's apartment. There's a very cute scene where 10 year-old Luis gets to walk down the block to a store to buy markers by himself and this mark of independence will be a great discussion starter with younger readers about their first independent adventure.
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this title, all opinions and mistakes are my own.
Profile Image for Tonja Drecker.
Author 3 books183 followers
April 14, 2020

Two very different personalities from two maybe or maybe not so very different worlds come together in a touching and engaging tale.

Sutton's parents are divorced, and her mother is constantly away studying penguins. Like her mom, Sutton loves science, but unlike her mom, she's into robots and programming—and she's fairly talented at it too. But when her mom announces she won't be there for Sutton's birthday, and her father gets more serious with the woman he's been dating, Sutton's not sure her life's programming is on the right track.

Then there's Luis. He's allergic to everything...or so it seems. His mom does everything in her power to protect him, but he still manages to stumble from one allergic reaction into the next. When his mom introduces him to her to the man she's dating and his daughter, Luis is willing to give the new people a try, but Sutton is tighter than the magical wards guarding a super treasure. He's not sure he can break through.

This was such a fun book to read! Sutton comes across so single-minded, as she only thinks about her robot, while trying to drown out the thoughts of troubles with her mother. It almost makes her, at times, a bit robotic herself. It's hard not to sympathize with her and her unease at dealing with everyone's relationships. Because everyone feels a little lost sometimes. Luis is a mess with his allergies, and yet, he's got the constant glow of hope...although it's not always bright and clear. His mishaps are the kind which could be almost funny if he didn't always end up with another dangerous allergic reaction. It's hard not to feel for him, and definitely easy to cheer for him as he tries to reach beyond his fears. In other words, both of these characters to hard not to like.

While the tale revolves around Luis's and Sutton's battle to get beyond their own worlds and deal with the new situation, it packs loads of gentle humor and tons of hope. Each page holds something new, making it a hard book to put down. Many young readers will identify with the two characters, and hope they both find their way.
I received a complimentary copy and enjoyed reading the tale more than I thought I would.
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