Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst

Eighteen-year-old Cassie wakes her mother up in the middle of the night, leads her to her bedroom, and shows her the baby girl she just gave birth to alone in her bedroom. Laura, Cassie’s mother, had no idea her daughter was pregnant let alone how to respond to the tiny infant. This and Cassie’s subsequent decision to give her baby up for adoption places intense strain on the relationship between mother and daughter. The producers of “Lost and Found”, the game show Cassie and Laura are participating in, are banking on the fact that this friction will explode right in front of their cameras. Also participating in the game show are Carl, the divorced father of a three-year-old with a liver disorder who feels like he has to win the million dollar price in case Benjamin gets sick again; Abby and Justin, so-called reformed ex-gays and Christians who are married; Juliet, a former child star who desperately needs to be on television; and a whole host of characters who are struggling with what it means to be honest with yourself and with those you love.

I started this novel with no idea of what it was about. I’m sure somebody wrote a review (unfortunately, I can’t find it) that caused me to immediately request the book off of PaperBackSwap, but when I packed the book up for my trip I couldn’t recall a thing about it.  When I started the story, I was surprised to find it would be framed by a game show. I wasn’t sure I would like it because I don’t really watch reality television. (I watched “The Amazing Race” for one season, but was never into “Survivor” or “American Idol” or any other game show.) But I did. I really did.

Nobody in this novel is perfect; everyone has their flaws. Parkhurst did a masterful job at bringing out each character’s inner demons in a way that made the presentation fit. We’re told about Cassie and Laura’s conflict from the very beginning, but even that conflict has layers that are pulled back slowly. Slowly, though, in a way that feel slow. The novel moves along a just right the pace; a pace that sucks you in and makes you want to continue reading.

This is helped by the fact that each chapter is told in first-person narrative of a different character. I’ve found this technique can either help or backfire majorly, but it really worked with this novel. And I think that’s because of the game show backdrop; it keeps the book moving forward as characters race to the finish line.

I wish the ending was a little stronger as I felt there were a couple of loose ends that needs to be tied up, especially when it came to Cassie. I still had questions in the end, but I do know that I enjoyed this novel a lot more than I anticipated I would.

Book Mentioned:

  • Parkhurst, Carolyn. Lost and Found. New York: Little, Brown, 2008. Print. 372 pgs. ISBN: 9780316003497. Source: PaperBackSwap.
Book Cover © Little, Brown. Retrieved: March 14, 2010.


  1. I don’t think I would ever pick up a book when it says “reality television” on the back, but your review made the book sound like an interesting read.


  2. I won this book awhile back but haven’t read it yet. I heard the author speak about the book at a writing conference and she made it sound so interesting, despite the fact that I’m not a big fan of reality tv. Glad to see you enjoyed it for the most part.



  3. I didn’t realize it was about reality TV when I bought it, either, and I kept putting it aside because of that fact. I’m definitely not a fan of reality TV! But then I decided to read it and was pleasantly surprised at the conflicts and issues that came up, and which seemed more important than the TV show aspect.

    I read this book last week and I will remember it for a long time.


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