The Department of Lost & Found: A Novel

The Department of Lost & Found: A Novel

by Allison Winn Scotch
4.2 23

NOOK Book(eBook)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
Want a NOOK ? Explore Now


The Department of Lost & Found: A Novel by Allison Winn Scotch

“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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061865787
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 419,180
File size: 421 KB

About 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.

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!”

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Department of Lost & Found 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Cathrin Owens More than 1 year ago
Fresh, honest, remarkable! Someone please make a movie based on this book!
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
PaulineMA More than 1 year ago
This book was a great find...I've read another book by Allison so when I saw this I knew I had to read it. I was not disappointed. The story is well written and the characters have depth. There is a reality that most of us have read about chemo from an objective point of view but this one is from the woman's perspective and she does a great job with it. There are excerpts from the woman's diary. As a nurse, I have to say that I usually am critical about the medical details. Not an issue here. There's not a lot of complex terminology but everything is explained clearly. I have to find more books by Allison Winn Scotch!
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Allison Winn Scotch's debut novel is an exploration of the human spirit in the form of Natalie, a 30-year-old up and coming Senate aide who is simultaneously diagnosed with breast cancer and dumped by her live-in boyfriend. During the time she's got on her hands as she undergoes chemo, Natalie reviews her life and her choices. She comes to realize that she's sacrificed too much in her climb up the political ladder and that to receive love, you must be willing to give it and to get hurt. I can't wait to read Allison's next book and I highly recommend this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm an avid reader but have been disappointed lately by some of the contemporary fiction on the market. Not so with Allison Winn Scotch's debut novel. I couldn't put this book down and was sorry to see it end. We've all heard the phrase 'Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to have a life.' This could be the mantra of Natalie Miller. At 30, she seems to have it all until her world comes crashing down with a diagnosis of cancer which coincides with her boyfriend leaving her. Rather than sink into depression, Natalie directs her energies towards figuring out what went wrong in her past relationships by tracking down the five loves of her life. Given that Natalie is battling breast cancer, this could have been a deep, dark, novel yet Scotch portrays Natalie as a fighter and illustrates how she battles cancer with courage and humor. When Natalie faces her own immortality, she comes to the realization that she's been sleepwalking through much of her life. Her diagnosis brings an understanding of what she truly wants from life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Written with bittersweet insight and -- at times -- heartfelt irreverence, this debut novel takes on the big C. And though her heroine does battle cancer, Allison Winn Scotch's tale actually focuses on the big C of challenges inherent to us all. Be prepared to have your eyes opened and your heart touched by a gifted, new author who understands the power of hope.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Magazine writer Allison Winn Scotch debuts her talented fiction writing skills with a novel that will have you laughing 'or at least smiling' one minute and balling your eyes out the next. Her story about a young woman's bout with breast cancer is both couragous and charming. Allison tells the story beginning with the main character, Natalie's, diagnosis. She weaves diary entries in with the narrative and creates a believeable tale. And it's no wonder. She wrote the book to tell a story with a happier ending than that of the best friend whom she lost to cancer in real life. The author tells Natalie's story from an interesting perspective, taking the reader on Natalie's path down memory lane to find out what went wrong in her relationships with her former boyfriends. Along the way, in between rounds of chemo, hair loss, and girlfriend trouble, Natalie realizes that during times of turmoil what we lose may not be nearly as important as what we gain because of the process. The Department of Lost & Found is a fine example of fiction written real. If you read it, you're sure to gain a new kind of empathy in a thankfully painless way.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Thirty years old senior aid to Senator Dupris of NY, Natalie Miller learns she has breast cancer. Not long after the horrifying diagnosis, her unassuming boyfriend Ned dumps her when she most needs him to comfort her. Worse the workaholic has to take a leave of absence from her high powered job six weeks before the election as the chemotherapy she begins requires plenty of rest with no stress. In her diary she begins to keep she writes mostly gloom and doom entries as only the Price is Right cheers her up although she admits to herself under other circumstances she would not mind seeing her kindhearted gynecologist Zach when Nat deeply muses re Zach she knows she would never have met him under any other circumstance. As she struggles with chemotherapy and ultimately a mastectomy, a former lover rock musician Jake returns into her life to help her, but she wants Zach though she fears he will see that as gratitude even if she believes he desires her too. As Nat heals, Sally her friend and a reporter uncovers a monster scandal that will hurt Dupris just when Natalie must decide whether to return to her and politics. ---- This fascinating character study contains one full blooded protagonist and a bunch of cardboard cutouts whose existence only relates to the lead character. When the insightful story line focuses on Natalie¿s bout with cancer the plot cuts deep into her heart and soul so that the audience understands her fears of dying young and her feelings that she accomplished nothing so far in her life (reminiscent of Margaret Edson¿s classic WIT). When she looks back (impassive diary form) to the loves of her life, she realizes the common theme of why they always ended was due to her ambition superseding her love. Fans of powerful poignant drama (except for the ¿required¿ ending) will enjoy this often humorous discerning look at a cancer survivor. ---- Harriet Klausner
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: