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Lost Children Archive

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  15,479 ratings  ·  2,650 reviews


Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Vintage (first published February 12th 2019)
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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 3.85  · 
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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, bu
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 (u
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 h
The image of an empty frame occurred to me while reading this book, and the more I registered how framing was being used as a metaphor, the more clearly I began to see into Valeria Luiselli's project which had seemed quite blurred in the early pages. By the end of the book, all the stories and histories she managed to insert into that frame had developed themselves into a vivid and powerful image.

Images and metaphors are part of Valeria Luiselli's writing technique though she begins her narrativ
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 the
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, set-in-the-us
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 co
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 th
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.
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
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 o
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 hu ...more
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 togethe ...more
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


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 coff
* 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
Peter Boyle
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
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 nov
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 U.
By far the best book I've read so far, this year. But also difficult to put a label on. It surely is an evocative work on the horrible migration problem in the south of the United States, especially with the influx of minors from Mexico. At the same time, it is a travelogue, a classic road novel, with a man and a wife, their children in the backseat, driving from New York to the Southwest, including the shabby motels. And regularly it contains stories on the expulsion and partial extermination o ...more
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
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 l
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ambi ...more
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 referr
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*
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


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 summari
Stephanie Jane
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-americas
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

After almost completely immersing myself in Lost Children Archive over three days and loving every single minute of Luiselli's atmospheric novel, I went online to update my Goodreads and was curious to see how many other reviewers weren't breathlessly fangirling. Did I not read the same book as everyone else? I was so completely drawn in to this story that I often felt as though I was right there in the car, in the midst of this fractured fam
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 f
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Matthew Quann
Mar 02, 2020 rated it liked it
A blended family of four, all unnamed, set off on a road trip from New York to Arizona while the parents' relationship begins to crack and crumble. The parents record audio for soundscape projects and the trip is ostensibly a way for both of them to collect their materials, but from early on the reader is made aware that by trip's end the marriage will have dissolved. Complicating matters are the boy and girl travelling with them, each from a previous relationship, who have grown together but se ...more
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Elyse  Walters
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5!.... mixed feelings ....
Admire the authors purpose -
Parts were very engaging - other parts very slow

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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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