The Department of Lost & Found

The Department of Lost & Found

4.0 22
by Allison Winn Scotch

View All Available Formats & Editions

“Allison Winn Scotch is the real deal and The Department of Lost and Found is one you absolutely won’t want to miss.”
—Johanna Edwards, author of The Next Big Thing

“Funny, touching, tender, true….I loved it.”
—Pamela Redmond Satran, author of Suburbanistas



“Allison Winn Scotch is the real deal and The Department of Lost and Found is one you absolutely won’t want to miss.”
—Johanna Edwards, author of The Next Big Thing

“Funny, touching, tender, true….I loved it.”
—Pamela Redmond Satran, author of Suburbanistas

A Redbook Magazine Editor’s Choice, Allison Winn Scotch’s sparkling debut novel, The Department of Lost and Found, is a story that makes you laugh and cry in equal measure. This funny and uplifting tale of a young woman overcoming bad odds and changing her life, as she discovers unexpected truths about her friends, her family, and herself, is one that Julie Buxbaum and Jennifer Weiner fans will not soon forget.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Some side-effects of cancer treatment are pretty fabulous in magazine writer Scotch's debut novel. Natalie Miller, a driven 30-year-old senior aideto a woman senator from New York, is having a rough time: just days after she's diagnosed with breast cancer, her cheating live-in boyfriend ditches her. She's feeling gloomy, then, when she begins chemo. (Her hunky and sweet gynecologist, Zach, is a mitigating factor.) Though the election is six weeks away, Natalie is ordered to stay home, where she writes in her diary (excerpts appear throughout) and becomes addicted to The Price Is Rightwhile an ambitious junior aide takes over her job. Natalie battles through rounds of chemo and a mastectomy until, out of the blue, an old love, up-and-coming rocker Jake, comes back to take care of her. He seems intent on making things work, but Natalie's long-simmering (and seemingly requited) attraction to Zach only intensifies. Meanwhile, Natalie's journalist friend Sally lands her first big story: an exposé of Natalie's boss. Her loyalties on the line and her cancer on the wane, Natalie makes some tough choices about the postcancer person she wants to be. Character development is secondary to the affirmative message in this bonbon of a cancer book. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
A predictable debut about a 30-year-old go-getter whose life is put on hold when she's diagnosed with breast cancer. Natalie Miller is senior aide to a Hillary Clinton-like New York senator-the job is tough, demanding and a bit underhanded. And so is Natalie. But the identity she's carefully cultivated is no match for the big "C," especially when the two things she depends on-the power of her job and her unchallenging boyfriend-disappear after her diagnosis. Although Natalie will admit she and Ned were hardly inseparable, no one wants to be dumped, especially at such a tumultuous time. And though Natalie would like to tough it out, Senator Dupris insists she take some time off during chemotherapy (of course, in her absence, Natalie loses her swank private office). Adrift without her professional position, Natalie decides to uncover why her past romances have failed. Disappointingly, the sections devoted to tracking old boyfriends are in diary form. The feedback from the beaus is the same: Natalie has always had priorities other than romance. Now afraid of dying, and that her chance for love may be over, she longs for both the one who got away (burgeoning rock-star Jake) and the one who may be Mr. Right, her second-best friend's ex, Zach. In the midst of the expected boyfriend trouble and work trouble (she is being usurped by an underling) is Natalie's battle with cancer, her chemotherapy, the loss of her hair and then both her breasts, the reaction of her friends and finally Natalie's own growing ability to ask for help. The writing is chatty, often funny, but the obviousness of the plot-by the end, Natalie may have found true love-detracts from any poignancy derived from Natalie's battlewith illness. Amiable gal stuff, aiming for, but not quite reaching, a higher plateau.
Claire Cook
“Allison Winn Scotch’s thoroughly engaging and optimistic debut novel simply sparkles!”
Valerie Frankel
“With a heroine who dares to be cranky and bitchy abour her disease while still attempting to keep her ‘brave’ game face on. The story is real, honest, engrossing, and funny, too. Plus any book with a Bob Barker cameo is aces with me.”
Theta Magazine
Told with humor and hope for a happier ending, this heartwarming debut will encourage readers to take stock.
No Source
Told with humor and hope for a happier ending, this heartwarming debut will encourage readers to take stock.
“The changes and realizations that the characters make are profound and moving....An impressive debut.”
Theta magazine
Told with humor and hope for a happier ending, this heartwarming debut will encourage readers to take stock.
Philadelphia Inquirer
“A light, fast and fun read on a serious topic.”
Marie Claire
Where you should read it: On the beach. It’s smart and well-written, but still divertingly light.
Redbook Magazine
Editor’s Choice: When [Natalie Miller’s] carefully crafted life begins to crumble...she finds inspiration from unexpected people.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
421 KB

Read an Excerpt

The Department of Lost & Found
A Novel

Chapter One

Dear Diary,

And so I begin. Janice, my cancer therapist, suggested that it might be healthy for me to channel my feelings onto paper instead of channeling them inward and sitting around feeling sorry for myself, which I've spent a great deal of time doing in the past few weeks. So I'm going to give this diary thing a shot. Though, really, who can blame me for moping? I was diagnosed with wretched cancer, my boyfriend dumped me, and the office won't return my calls.

Of course, when Janice suggested this little hobby, I told her I had nothing to write about: My cancer was certainly out—spending hours in a darkened bedroom with a pen in hand mulling over my mortality wasn't an option. But then, I was lying on my couch staring at the ceiling, hearing the radio but not really listening, when I heard Jake's voice come over the airwaves. Jake. He of my all-consuming love. He was singing about lost love, and I sunk into the pillows and pulled the chenille throw blanket over my legs and wondered if he were singing about me. When the DJ spun a new song, I sat up with a start. Inspiration.

You see, Diary, in the weeks since Ned up and dumped me, it has occurred to me that I'm not entirely sure what went wrong between us. And when I further pondered this situation, I realized that I wasn't sure what went wrong in just about all of my prior relationships. And when I pondered this one step more, I realized that I must lack any or all bits of self-awareness. I mean, what sort of person walks away from a relationship and doesn't even devote a moment to the root of itsending? Sure, I spent time mulling over the ending itself—the overdramatic epitaphs, the wasted tears—but not necessarily the why behind it.

So with that, Diary, I'm off to retrace the steps and missteps of my past: Yes, I'm going to track down the five loves of my life and see what I might glean, who I'll be, where I'll end up. Who knows where it will lead? But you'll be along for the ride, Diary. Wish me luck.

The election was in six weeks and counting, and admittedly, being out of the action was beginning to take its toll. Ever since law school, I'd only known one thing: work. Higher, stronger, more. Which is how I'd ascended to my pivotal position as the great Senator Dupris's senior aide. All by the age of thirty, which I turned in early September, just before the world as I know it otherwise imploded.

Before said implosion of my world, I was a woman about town. I'd be parked at my desk by 7:30 A.M., already having run four miles, chatted up the Starbucks barista, and scanned the morning headlines. The next twelve hours would be a blur: The day would be spent cajoling aides, seducing lobbyists, caressing the media, or demolishing anyone who stood in the senator's way. If I were lucky, in the evenings Ned and I would split Chinese takeout around nineish, and after checking my e-mail one last time, I'd crash on my four-hundred-thread-count sheets, only to start it up all over again the next morning.

Now? Well, here's an example of what I did today.

8:27 I wake up.

8:28 I consider vomiting, so roll back over onto Ned's side of the bed and pull my sleep mask back down.

8:31 I can't ward off the effects of Friday's chemo treatment any longer, despite my heavy use of the antinausea drugs that Dr. Chin, my oncologist, prescribed, so I rush to the bathroom just off my bedroom and lean over the toilet while my body rebels against the very medicine that's trying to save it.

8:35 I brush my teeth, wipe the sweat off my brow, and climb back into bed, swearing that I've never hated anything more in my life than this cancer, which, if you were privy to several of my professional entanglements, says a lot about my distaste for my current condition.

9:26 The phone rouses me from bed, and I assure Dr. Dorney—well, Zach, I should really call him (or Dr. Horny, as my friend Lila, the one who ended up dating him for a year and a half before unceremoniously dumping him on the grounds that she couldn't stand dating a man who looked at vaginas for a living, liked to call him)—that I'm fine and don't need anything, and please to not stop by. I sit up in bed and catch my reflection in the closet mirror on the opposite wall: my matted hair, my three-day-old pajamas, my sallow skin. No, I tell him firmly, you should most definitely not drop by.

10:06 My eyes (and brain, perhaps) glaze over as I become entranced with Bob Barker and his lovely bevy of beauties.

10:11 The antinausea tea that I've quickly grown to rely on winds its way through my system, so I nibble on a banana. It's only been three weeks (or one chemo cycle), and I've already lost five pounds.

10:54 Despite feeling rather bulletproof with my Price Is Right expertise, I lose the vacation to the Bahamas and the Ford Thunderbird in the showcase showdown. Now what do I have to live for?

11:02 Time to e-mail Kyle at work.

From: Miller, Natalie
To: Richardson, Kyle
Re: What's Up with Taylor?


Saw the paper this AM. What's up with the leaks about Dupris's tax returns? You know that Councilman Taylor will do anything to win this election and put her out of the job. He's a slimy bastard—and a state councilman at that! Where does he get off? What are you guys doing for damage control?


11:54 I check e-mail.

12:03 I check e-mail.

12:11 I check e-mail.

12:34 I realize that my BlackBerry will alert me to my e-mail, so decide to take a walk.

The Department of Lost & Found
A Novel
. Copyright © by Allison Scotch. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are saying about this

Valerie Frankel
“With a heroine who dares to be cranky and bitchy abour her disease while still attempting to keep her ‘brave’ game face on. The story is real, honest, engrossing, and funny, too. Plus any book with a Bob Barker cameo is aces with me.”
Claire Cook
“Allison Winn Scotch’s thoroughly engaging and optimistic debut novel simply sparkles!”

Meet the Author

Allison Winn Scotch is the author of the New York Times bestseller Time of My Life and The One That I Want. She lives in New York with her family.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Department of Lost and Found 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Cathrin Owens More than 1 year ago
Fresh, honest, remarkable! Someone please make a movie based on this book!
Bookwoorm More than 1 year ago
I think this is a personal best for Allison Winn Scotch. Easily my favorite of her three books - comforting, funny and easy flowing story. The main character is easy to "listen" to and I found her very relate-able. It's a happy ending, light, summer read and I definitely recommend it.
Renda_Brooks More than 1 year ago
Allison Winn Scotch manages to take us on a journey with Natalie Miller in The Department of Lost and Found. The story is an inspiring tale of Natalie Miller, a 30 year old that has found her life to be altered. She is diagnosed with cancer, stripped of her once successful career, and realizes the things in her life that she thought was important really weren't. Natalie reflects on past choices she's made in life and how they've affected the person she has become. She tracks down past loves in an attempt to understand what went wrong and why. She has to take stock of what where she's been and where she wants her journey to take her. Receiving various treatments for the cancer, Natalie suffers from side effects and the toll cancer and its treatment has on a person. There are joyous moments and those heartrending moments. But throughout it all, Natalie's perseverance prevails. My opinion As I was reading this book, there were times I laughed and cried. I found myself rooting Natalie along and hoping she would find in herself the strength and endurance to face the changes and crisis she was facing. I found the story to be accurate with the emotional roller coaster of dealing with cancer and treatments. This was a very enjoyable and inspirational read. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Predictable but fun, with better writing than your basic chick-lit, The Department of Lost & Found is worth picking up for your next vacation, airplane ride, or trip to the beach. At first, you don't really like the protagonist, but as you read the book, she begins to relax, and you begin to warm to her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The dr. romance put me off an i didnt love the main charaacter
samieOH More than 1 year ago
Really love the book and everyone should read this!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jenn3366 More than 1 year ago
This is such a great book. Not only does it remind you of what you should be thankful for... It gives insight on the decisions you've already made. I couldn't put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mjar More than 1 year ago
The book was VERY slow to start, spending roughly 100 pages discussing the Main Character's career. Her dedication to her career was important but not 100 pages important. The rest of the book was a typical story of a survivors struggles. The author's style of writing was conversational and easy to follow.
IHeart2Read More than 1 year ago
Natalie Miller loves her life. Why shouldn't she? She's the top aide to a senator, young and determine and has a great political career ahead of her. The world Natalie carefully built comes crashing down when her doctor informs her, she has breast cancer. In an instant, her live-in boyfriend breaks up with her, her career is in jeopardy and whether she wants to or not, Natalie is forced to reflect on her life as she confronts her own mortality while fighting this life-threatening disease. As Natalie begins her chemotherapy treatments, she's assigned to Janice, a cancer therapist. Janice encourages her to keep a diary as an outlet for her feelings. As she writes her first journal entry, her mind begins to focus on her recent breakup with Ned. She isn't sure where their relationship went wrong and what caused Ned to finally end things. The more she ponders this, she begins to think about her past boyfriends. A plan then forms: she will revisit her past five loves by tracking down each man to determine what went wrong in their relationship. This is more about self-discovery for Natalie and not to rekindle an old-flame. I have to admit early on I didn't like Natalie very much. She seemed to be very cold and distant emotionally. She was very power-hungry and would do anything necessary to manipulate the situation in her favor. The more I began to read about Natalie's life and her battle with breast cancer, I slowly started to warm up to her and began to empathize with her. Keeping busy and focused on work while undergoing chemo is what's keeping Natalie in this fight. Her life is centered around her career. Without that, she wouldn't have anything to live for. This realization to her is powerful as things begin to shift at work and she's no longer viewed as irreplaceable. As Natalie continues journaling and reconnecting with past loves, she begins a transformation that leaves the reader feeling hopeful she will win this battle and will be given a second chance to live her life based on the lessons she has learned. The Department of Lost & Found is the author's debut novel, which at times I found hard to believe. Not only do I highly recommend this book, I also suggest Time of My Life, her second novel. This summer, The One That I Want will be released.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading "Time of My Life" by Scotch a few months ago, I was anxious to get my hands on this, her first book. Scotch manages to take a very serious subject, cancer, and develop a story that is at times touching, at times hilarious, and at times achingly raw. In her book jacket bio, the author says that she lost a close friend to breast cancer and wanted to write a book with a happier ending. She accomplishes what she set out to do, but the reader is not spared any of cancer's wrath in the process. "The Department of Lost & Found" is the story of Natalie Miller, a ruthless senior adviser to a senator. She will let nothing stand in her way. When she is diagnosed with breast cancer, she tries to continue things as normal, but must face the fact that everything she has must now go into fighting this disease. Along the way, the reader sees cancer for what one can only imagine it is who doesn't have it....merciless. Natalie begins to understand that life is not for settling, and if she is lucky enough to get a second chance, she should live the life she wants to live. Scotch does not sugarcoat anything, including her main character. There are times when it is very difficult to like Natalie. But aren't there times in everyone's life when we are hard to like, with cancer or without? MY RATING - 4 To see my rating scale and other book reviews, check out my blog: