Tuesday, August 3

Lost and Found - Carolyne Parkhurst

Laura hoped that competing on "Lost & Found," a reality TV show that combines travel, team work and problem solving, would bring her closer to her daughter Cassie. Well aware that she let Cassie down at the time her daughter needed her the most, Laura can see that her very eagerness to be close and to please is counter-productive, but can't seem to stop. And when things are going well with Cassie, she always tries to take advantage of the bond, ruining the moment in the process.
Cassie has secrets her mother knows nothing about - including the fact that the show's producers not only know all about it but that the rift, and its cause, is the reason they're on "Lost & Found" to start with. They're one of half a dozen other couples who have pre-existing relationships - brothers Carl and Jeff, geeks Riley and Trent, formerly gay born again Christian husband and wife Abby and Justin, where-are-they-now childhood TV stars Dallas and Juliet, long-ago high school sweethearts Jason and Betsy - competing for a million dollars. But all the competitors will find, and lose, things they never expected.
This is the first book I've read twice since beginning this blog and, not yet having re-read my initial review, I'm interested to see how my reading has changed in the last year. Although I remembered a lot of the basic plot, including the event that drew attention to, rather than caused, the rift between Cassie and Laura, many of the plot details had faded a little.
Something more of a reality TV watcher than I care to admit in real life, I strongly engaged with the premise, and anticipate my viewing of the latest season of "The Amazing Race" to be a little enhanced by my increased awareness of the production side of reality television, including the use of carnets to facilitate passing through customs. I remember wanting to watch the show on my first reading, and that certainly hasn't changed - I'd love to see "Lost & Found" broadcast!
The characters are beautifully and sparsely drawn - they all have clear motivations and are easily destinguishable, not always the case in a relatively slender, well-populated novel. Although the action is important, relationships are at the heart of this novel, and I really enjoyed the layered, resonant portrayal of these, particularly the mother-daughter relationship.
From Laura's perspective, everything changed when she was woken by Cassie in the middle of the night to find herself a grandmother. Berating herself for not noticing Cassie's pregnancy or her withdrawal, Laura bitterly regrets her first, angry response to the news, and her guilt is still twined with anger. But for Cassie the baby is just part of a growing estrangement - from her oblivious mother, more focused on a post-weight-loss relationship than on her daughter, and from her best friend and now not-so-secret crush.
The mother-daughter dynamic is captured for me here:
I wanted to say something... "I'm having a little trouble with this," I said.
Cassie yawned. "I'm sure you are," she said.
"You could have told me," I said, trying hard not to sound critical.
Cassie looked down... when she spoke, her voice was careful and even.
"You could have noticed," she said.
There are a number of sub-plots running alongside the main relationship development. I was particularly interested in the 'formerly gay' couple, and in the whole behind the scenes production aspect, from host Barbara's deliberate on-air persona construction and need for "Lost & Found" to succeed and rescue her career, to the agendas of the support crew. but there are no wrong notes - from dialogue to character, narrative arc to premise, the whole novel was a delight the second time around. - Alex

For my initial review of Lost & Found click here; for Lynn's review click here.

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