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Lost and Wanted’s Back-of-Book Description
An emotionally engaging, suspenseful new novel from the best-selling author, told in the voice of a renowned physicist: an exploration of female friendship, romantic love, and parenthood–bonds that show their power in surprising ways.
Helen Clapp’s breakthrough work on five-dimensional spacetime landed her a tenured professorship at MIT; her popular books explain physics in plain terms. Helen disdains notions of the supernatural in favor of rational thought and proven ideas. So it’s perhaps especially vexing for her when, on an otherwise unremarkable Wednesday in June, she gets a phone call from a friend who has just died.
That friend was Charlotte Boyce, Helen’s roommate at Harvard. The two women had once confided in each other about everything–in college, the unwanted advances Charlie received from a star literature professor; after graduation, Helen’s struggles as a young woman in science, Charlie’s as a black screenwriter in Hollywood, their shared challenges as parents. But as the years passed, Charlie became more elusive, and her calls came less and less often. And now she’s permanently, tragically gone.
As Helen is drawn back into Charlie’s orbit, and also into the web of feelings she once had for Neel Jonnal–a former college classmate now an acclaimed physicist on the verge of a Nobel Prize-winning discovery–she is forced to question the laws of the universe that had always steadied her mind and heart.
Suspenseful, perceptive, deeply affecting, Lost and Wanted is a story of friends and lovers, lost and found, at the most defining moments of their lives.
I chose this as my Book of The Month book back in April of 2019. Clearly, I liked the info I was given at the time, but when I was deciding what to ready this go ’round all I remembered was that it might involve space and/or time travel.
A couple chapters in, I found it does involve space and time, but mostly a whole lot of science. I actually texted my friend and said that I thought it was above my ‘grade level’. Fortunately, that didn’t deter me for long and I quickly got pulled into the story.
I should let you know that it also deals with the subject of losing someone close to you. If that’s something you’re struggling with, you may not be ready for this. Although on the other hand, maybe you would appreciate it more? Hard to say I guess.
Lost and Wanted is made of three or four parts and each part has several small chapters. This kind of layout appeals to me because it allows for plenty of stopping points. Of course, because it’s well written and a tad suspenseful, you want to just keep going to the next chapter – and the next, and the next – to let the story unfold.
It also has a non-linear timeline, in that it takes place in the present, but the narrator (who’s also the main character) spends a lot of time thinking about the past. I like that a lot, too because I think it’s the most useful, enjoyable way to get to know the characters. The relationships between those characters are the main focus of the story and she writes about the complexities of several different kinds of relationships in a real, relatable way.
The author’s writing is very intelligent, but not all aspects of it are ‘over your head’ or hard to understand. Her setting and character descriptions are perfect – I easily pictured everything in my mind, in that way you do where you’re like “if this is ever made into a movie and it doesn’t look exactly like this, I will be very upset” kind of way.
The dialogue is good. She maybe assumes people are shorter, and more direct than they always are, but this could also be a regional thing. Overall, the general tone of it is smart and witty, and I found quite a few quotes that appealed to me.
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Favorite Quotes From Lost and Wanted
“It’s just that being female makes it more difficult to blurt out whatever comes into my head without seeming rude or crazy.”
“…and yet, even with all these single people, we still don’t have a word for the person who is your most important person – if you don’t wind up with him or her.”
“I thought that if [she] had been driven mad by grief, this was the form it would take: the frantic organization of other peoples lives.”
“…the words we choose have real consequences for the version of reality that we’re describing, and it’s almost always better to go with the simplest possible option.”
“It struck me later that it is possible to lie without saying anything at all.”
“If I have more than two drinks, I inevitably forget to stop.”
“They are attracted by each other’s enormous gravity, and also pushed apart by angular momentum, and so they circle each other for centuries, getting just a tiny fraction closer with each rotation.”
4 stars. I felt confused by Lost and Wanted, in more ways than one. But it was like a beautiful, lovely confusion. And I’ve mentioned it before, but I really like to feel challenged by the books I read; I like to feel like I’m learning something. And this book definitely checked those boxes. If you’re in the mood for a nice, challenging read, then I would absolutely recommend this one.
If you’re thinking of gifting it, it would be great for fiction lovers who are also interested in physics, science, and astronomy.
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