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"An entertaining, unexpectedly wise novel. . . . Parkhurst's tender, witty prose catches things no camera could."—Lev Grossman, Time
"Surprisingly moving. . . . Parkhurst catches us again and again with moments of real tenderness."—Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World
"A deeply affecting page-turner."—Rebecca Marx, Elle
"LOST AND FOUND will keep readers on the edge of their seats. . . . It may be the most emotionally satisfying novel of the season."—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
By the sixth leg of the game, we have accumulated the following objects: a ski pole, a bishop from a crystal chess set, a sheet of rice paper, a trilobite fossil, an aviator's helmet, and a live parrot. Our backpacks are overflowing. I drop the chess piece into a sock to keep it from bumping against anything and chipping. I fold the rice paper into a guidebook. The helmet I put on my head. I hand the ski pole to Cassie. "Ready?" I ask, picking up the parrot's cage.
"Like I have a choice," she says. Our cameraman, Brendan, grins. I know he thinks Cassie makes for great footage. "Okay, then," I say. "We're off."
We leave our hotel room and walk down the hall, Brendan walking backward so he can film us; our sound guy trails behind. In the elevator, the parrot squawks.
"We should give this guy a name," I say to Cassie, holding up the cage.
"How about Drumstick?" Brendan smiles behind his camera. He's loving this.
"How about Milton?" I try. "He looks kind of like a Milton, don't you think?"
"Fine, Mom," Cassie says, staring up at the lighted numbers. "Whatever."
The doors open onto the lobby, and we step out. There are only seven teams left, and the other six are already here. I pretty much hate them all by this point. Wendy and Jillian,the middle-aged flight attendants from Milwaukee, are sitting on a sofa, feeding little bits of bread to their parrot, while Carl and Jeff, the funny brothers from Boston, sit next to them, poring over a guidebook. Justin and Abby, whom a few people have dubbed Team Brimstone (or, occasionally, Team Shut-Up-Already) because they won't stop talking about how the power of the Lord rescued them from homosexuality and delivered them into the loving grace of Christian marriage, are praying. Juliet and Dallas, the former child stars, who are standing (not coincidentally, I think) next to a large mirror, are staring at them with naked malice. Riley and Trent, the young millionaire inventors (they're wild cards - brilliant, but not so good with the everyday stuff, and everyone wonders what they're doing here anyway, since they don't need the money), smile at Cassie as we walk past, but she turns away from them and goes to sit next to Wendy. Wendy says something to her, and Cassie actually smiles and reaches out to touch the feathers on their parrot's head.
The only seat left is next to Betsy and Jason, the former high school sweethearts who have recently been reunited after twenty years apart. They seem to be having a fight; they're sitting beside each other, but his arms are crossed, and their commitment to not looking at each other is very strong. I sit down next to Betsy, balancing Milton's cage on my lap.
"Morning," Betsy says, turning her whole body away from Jason. "Did your parrot keep you guys up all night, too?"
"No, we just put a towel over his cage and he went right to sleep." "Lucky," she says. "We tried that, but it didn't work. Ours was freaking out all night. I think we got a defective one."
"A defective parrot. I wonder if there's any provision for that in the rules."
"Yeah, maybe they'll let us trade it in. Otherwise, I'm gonna put it in Barbara's room tonight."
There are two camerapeople filming this conversation. One of the producers, Eli, steps to the middle of the room and claps his hands. "Quiet, everyone," he says. "Here comes Barbara." The front door opens and the host of the show, Barbara Fox, walks in with an entourage of makeup artists and even more camerapeople. She's small and rigid with short blond hair and a frosty smile. She's one of the most unnatural people I've ever met. I don't know how she got a job on TV. We're not allowed to approach her. "Good morning, everybody," she says, turning her glassy smile to each of us in turn.
"Good morning," we say like schoolchildren, except less in unison. Her crew sets her up in front of a large mural of the Sphinx. Filming begins. "I'm Barbara Fox," she says, "and I'm standing in a hotel in Aswan, the southernmost city in Egypt, with the seven remaining teams in a scavenger hunt that will cover all the corners of the earth. Ladies and gentlemen, this ..." - dramatic pause here, and a strange little roll of her head - "is Lost and Found."
Throughout this process, auditioning for the show, going through rounds of interviews with the producers, providing background for the viewers, we've been asked over and over again to "tell our story." The story I've told them goes something like this: I raised Cassie mostly on my own; it hasn't always been easy. She'll be leaving for college next year, and I wanted a chance to travel the world with her before she's gone. Cassie's version is considerably terser. We tell the story like that's all there is, like we're any old mother and daughter doing our little dance of separation and reconciliation. Oldest story in the world.
The story that doesn't get told begins like this: Four months ago, on a warm and airless night, I woke up to find Cassie standing over my bed. I couldn't see her very well in the dark, and for a moment it was like all the other nights, scattered through her childhood, when she'd come to get me because she was sick or scared. I'm a sound sleeper - I guess it's important to say that - and it took her a few minutes to wake me.
"Mom," she was saying. "Mom." "What is it?" I said. "What time is it?" "Mom, could you come to my room for a minute?" "What's the matter? Are you sick?" "Could you just come to my room?"
"Okay," I said. I got out of bed and followed her down the hall. She'd moved her bedroom into the attic the previous year, and as we climbed the stairs, I could see that the light was on and the bedclothes were rumpled. I noticed a funny smell, an odor of heat and sweat and something like blood. There were towels everywhere - it seemed like every towel we owned was piled on the floor or the bed. Most of them were wet, and some of them were stained with something dark.
"Is that blood?" I said. "Mom, look," she said. "On the bed." I looked at the tangle of linens, and it took me a minute before I saw it. Saw her, I should say. There, in the center of the bed, lay a baby wrapped in a yellow beach towel.
"What ..." I said, but I didn't know how to finish the sentence. "Cassie ..."
"It's a girl," Cassie said. "I don't understand," I said. My mind seemed to have stopped working. The baby looked very still. "Is she ... okay?" "I think so," Cassie said. "She was awake at first, and then she went to sleep."
"But ..." I said, and then I didn't say any more. I reached out and unwrapped the baby. She lay naked and sleeping, her body smudged with creamy smears of vernix. Several inches of umbilical cord, tied at the end with a shoelace, grew out of her belly like a vine.
I looked her over, this child, my granddaughter. Tiny. Tiny. There is no new way to say it. If you could have seen her. The translucent eyelids, the little fingers curled into fists. The knees bent like she hadn't learned how to stretch them yet. The feet wrinkled from their long soak. You forget how small they can be. Tiny. I picked her up, and she stirred. She opened her eyes and looked up at me. A lurch inside me, and I loved her, just like that. It didn't even happen that way with my own daughter, not quite. I held her close to my chest and wrapped the towel around her again.
"I didn't know how to tell you," Cassie said. "I don't understand," I said again. "You had this baby?" "Yeah. About half an hour ago, I guess." "But you weren't pregnant."
She gave me a look. "Well, obviously, I was," she said. "And you didn't tell me? For nine whole months you didn't tell me? Who's the father? Dan? Does he know?"
"Can we talk about this later?" she said. "I think maybe I should see a doctor." She lowered her voice and looked downward. "I'm bleeding," she said, her voice like a little girl's.
I wish I had said, "My poor baby." I wish I had said, "I'm so sorry you had to go through this alone." But I was tired and bewildered, and I was beginning to get angry. What I said was, "Yeah, that'll happen when you give birth." And I didn't say it very nicely.
Cassie turned away from me and balled her hands into fists. "Well, you don't have to be so mean," she said, and I could hear that she was trying not to cry. "I've been through a lot tonight. It hurt a lot, you know, really, really a lot."
I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself down. "Okay, Cassie," I said. "I'm sorry. This is just kind of a shock." I reached out to take her arm, but she shook me away. "You're right," I said. "We should go to the hospital."
I looked at the baby, who was lying quietly in my arms. "We have to wrap her better," I said. "This towel is wet."
"I think she peed," said Cassie. "I didn't have any diapers. I didn't know they could pee so soon."
"Well, they can," I said. "Let me go get some blankets." With great care, I put the baby down on the bed and went down the stairs to the linen closet. My mind felt thick, as if my head were filled with clay. I tried to understand this new information, to lay it on top of the things I already knew and to read my memories through it. She'd been wearing loose clothes lately, I'd noticed that much. I thought she'd been gaining weight, but I didn't want to upset her by bringing it up. She'd been sleeping a lot and she was moody, but so what? It's not like that's exactly earth-shattering behavior for a seventeen-year-old.
I opened the linen closet and looked inside. I picked out a quilt that my grandmother had given me when Cassie was born; her own mother had made it for her as a wedding gift. It had been Cassie's favorite blanket in childhood, and she'd kept it on her bed until she reached adolescence.
As I picked it up, I was already imagining the things I would say to this baby one day. I would tell her, You were born under extraordinary circumstances. I would tell her, We wrapped you in a quilt that was older than our house.
I brought the blanket into Cassie's room and spread it on the bed. "But that's my blanket from Nana," she said. Her voice rose like a child's. "What if she pees again?"
I laid the baby on the quilt, the small, miraculous lump of her, and swaddled her as well as I could. "If she pees, she pees," I said. "Do you think we should bring this to the hospital?" Cassie asked, picking up the wastebasket by her desk. I looked inside at what it held. It was the placenta, dark and slick as a piece of raw liver.
"I don't think we need that," I said. I tried to think back to the books I had read before Cassie was born. "Wait, maybe we do. I think they need to check it to make sure the whole thing came out. I don't know."
"I'll just bring it," she said. The baby started to cry, a high, pure kitten-screech of a sound. We both looked down at her.
"She's probably hungry," I said. "I wonder if you should try to breastfeed her."
"No," she said, and her voice was hard and steady. "I don't want to." And I think that was when I knew we'd be giving her up.
The rules of the game are simple. For each segment, they fly us to a new city where we follow a trail of clues through various exotic (and, presumably, photogenic) locations until we're able to decipher what item we're looking for. Then each team sets out to find an object that qualifies. Every item we find has to remain with us until the end of the game, so the items are usually heavy or fragile or unwieldy; it adds to the drama. Losing or breaking a found object is grounds for disqualification. The last team to find the required object and make it to the finish line gets sent home.
At the end of each leg, Barbara interviews the team that's been eliminated, and she asks the following question: "You've lost the game, but what have you found?" I know the producers are looking for cheesy answers like "I found my inner strength," or "I found the true meaning of friendship," but that's not always what they get. The first ones eliminated were Mariah and Brian, a brother-and-sister team from San Francisco. Brian began acting strangely almost immediately; we found out later that he was schizophrenic - he was fine while he was taking his medication, but he'd stopped at some point during the game. (So much for all the producers' elaborate background checks.) The race ended for them in a museum of natural history in Quebec. We were looking for trilobites, but Brian became very agitated by a giant dinosaur skeleton that was on display, and he began to pelt it with trash from a nearby garbage can. He had to be forcibly removed from the premises. Afterward, Barbara found the two of them outside, sitting on the ground like children. Mariah was cradling Brian in her arms as he rocked back and forth unhappily. Barbara walked up to them - you have to give her credit for determination - and asked them her question. Brian looked up at Barbara, his face a frieze of misery. "I've found out you're a motherless dog," he said before Mariah waved the cameras away. I'd like to see how they're going to edit that.
I don't think there's much of a chance Cassie and I will win the game, but I don't really care. Secretly, this is the moment I'm looking forward to most, the moment when Cassie and I stand before Barbara, and she asks me what I've found. Cassie and I will look at each other and smile; I'll reach out and touch her arm, or her hair, and she won't move away. I'll turn back to Barbara, and the cameras, and all the TV viewers of the world. I found my daughter, I'll say. I found my little girl.
Excerpted from Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst Copyright © 2006 by Carolyn Parkhurst. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted August 10, 2012
Great writing and great story. I hated for it to end. The charachters were so real I wanted to continue to follow them and find out what happens after the "game" ends.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 27, 2011
Posted April 23, 2011
Posted November 14, 2009
After reading "The Dogs of Babel" I fell in love with Carolyn Parkhurst's writing. Totally different feel of a book, but it's a great one.. Highly recommend it..Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
this book was so much fun to read. At first i thought all the different characters would be hard to keep straight but the story moved so well that everything worked together.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 18, 2009
This book was not what I expected. I picked it up on the recommendation of a friend, however if I had read the back of the book I would have put it back on the shelf. I ended up really enjoying it! The author shows a lot of talent by writing each chapter from another person's perspective, and she really captures their voice. You forget that it was all written by the same person. It's a very entertaining story, but it does challenge you to think about some sensitive issues.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 16, 2009
Posted March 2, 2009
This book is a fun, quick and easy to read. Definately worth taking a look if you like books by Carolyn Parkhurst. I enjoyed the many characters and only wished the book was longer so I could learn more about them.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 11, 2009
Posted June 14, 2008
i thought this was a very enjoyable read... a quick no brainer and just flat out fun! i would remmend this to those who want a break from the hardhitting books. Fun from the begging to the end.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 5, 2008
Posted October 3, 2006
Posted June 6, 2006
Lost and Found reality TV show is down to its final twelve contestants consisting of six two players per team on a round-the-world scavenger hunt. The winning duo earns a million dollars. With cameras following each person, jet lagged bone weary contestants are over the edge as the punishing tests have taken their toll. Their so-called images established for the show have worn thin and exposed is more of the real inner person as this dirty dozen survived so far the great race that is nearing the finish line.--------------- Eighteen year old Cassie and her widowed mom Laura do not talk about the baby that the older member gave away for adoption or the father of the child. Former child protégés Juliet and Dallas squabble over who is the star of their team. Siblings Carl and Jeff debate each other whether their comedic routines are loved or hated by others especially their ex wives. Trying to recapture the past, former high school lovers Betsy and Jason instead realize they have moved past one another. Dot.com superstars Trent and Riley struggle with everyday living so they hoped this adrenalin rush will return them to their glory days. Finally former homosexual turned born again Christians Justin and Abby conclude that their marriage has not ended their desires for sinful same sex. Manipulated and maneuvered the twelve reveal all to the candid camera.----------------- Rotating perspective of the ensemble cast leads to each of the twelve and the avaricious producer having differing personalities, which makes this satire of greed fun to read. The story line uses the zany global scramble as a cover for a character study readers learn what motivates each of the baker¿s dozen (contestants and the producer) especially when everyone is exhausted and masks are easily torn asunder. Humorous and poignant, everyone seems more lost than found.-------------------- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 2, 2006
I discovered author, Carolyn Parkhurst, when I picked up a copy of her first novel, 'Dogs of Babel', with the intent of just scanning the back cover. Three hours of furious reading later, I turned the final page and logged on to BN.com hoping to find another Parkhurst tome. Alas, none were available. The wait is over though, with 'Lost and Found.' Proving that lighting does in fact strike the same place twice, the author has delivered another engaging and clever read. Parkhurst gives us 12 unique characters drawn together as contestants in a reality TV based game, 'Lost and Found.' Using this back drop, the author draws the reader into each character's world -some more deeply than others - and allows each to explain their observations, past experiences and inner thoughts. In doing so, readers soon discover that each contestant has lost something in their lives and longs to find what they have lost...in essence, life imitating reality TV. Who will win the contest? and more importantly, who will recapture that which they have lost? Get this book and find out. You will not be disappointed.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 19, 2006
I had high hopes for this book, looking for the poignant details that could have been... While I won't go into much detail, the book left me with the feeling of 'that's it?' I needed to hear more about the some of the characters. It left me disppointed and thinking that the author could have taken the characters a bit further. Granted, I could use my imagination to fill in the blanks left for me, but if I wanted to write my own book, I would have picked up the pen, so to speak!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 2, 2009
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Posted April 13, 2009
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Posted February 17, 2010
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Posted January 25, 2010
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Posted January 31, 2012
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