“Through spare and precise language, Knight’s debut novel follows three generations of the Brooks family as they are both nurtured and impeded by their physicist patriarch…Knight avoids easy conclusions and balances this intergenerational story with levity, honesty, and just the right measure of heartbreak.” —Publishers Weekly
“A memorable exploration of the consequences of history on both a personal and an intellectual level.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Lost, Almost takes us into a magnetic world, one where characters orbit not just Los Alamos and the sciences, but also the appealingly hard-nosed physicist Adam Brooks. His son, his grandchildren, and his colleagues all live within his gravitational pull. These characters’ passion for their work becomes the reader’s, and Amy P. Knight paints her brilliant subjects with confidence, empathy, and a deep understanding of psychology. Knight has managed to build a small solar system in these pages, one I was bereft to leave. Hers is a bold, enthralling, and often hilarious new voice.” —Rebecca Makkai, author of Music for Wartime
“In her incendiary debut novel, Amy P. Knight gives us a glimpse into the lives of those who ‘need to be right more than anything, more than air, more than love,’ and of those who would rather win than be right. No mere cautionary tale, this story is a haunting meditation on the hazards of genius and the dangers of any society ‘long on intellect [and] short on empathy.’ Except that empathy, dear reader, is all you’ll have for these characters, even for Adam Brooks, the book’s hero. I say hero, but Brooks is also a villain, a father, a tyrant, a child. Brooks, and all the rest, resist comfortable categorization. No, this book is too complicated, and too good, for that. Lost, Almost is a staggering achievement.” —David James Poissant, author of The Heaven of Animals
“Like a mad scientist in the lab of human insight, Amy P. Knight has created a beautiful novel of nuclear proportion. Hers is an exploration of creation and destruction, passion and compulsion, brilliance and cruelty. If nothing else, the absorbing experiment that is Lost, Almost teaches us once again that the most important element in science was then, is now, and ever shall be, love and belonging to family and the human race. It is a perfect reminder for this era of hapless leadership.” —MB Caschetta, author of Miracle Girls
Knight examines the lives of several generations of a family through the lens of its brilliant, mercurial patriarch.In the opening scene of this debut novel, young Adam Brooks hears news of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima in the last days of World War II. It's an event that will change the path of his life, as he embarks on a career immersed in science, mathematics, and the potentially catastrophic consequences of both. Knight intersperses chapters focusing on Adam as he progresses from bright-eyed young man to a renowned expert in his field with chapters exploring successive generations of his family and how the rigorous and idiosyncratic manner in which he's raised his children has affected them. At its best, this novel demonstrates the multifaceted way in which people occupy different roles in the course of the same life: to some members of his family, Adam is a revered figure, capable of solving a host of problems with the resources at his disposal; to others, he can be cold, holding the people around him to impossibly high standards. Given the novel's time span, Knight also explores shifts in scientific focus, including the changing ways in which nuclear weapons were perceived from the 1940s until late in the 20th century, and the fluctuations in the political and cultural landscapes over the same period. The way the book moves forward and backward in time is generally illuminating rather than disorienting; by the end, the overall effect is a deeper understanding of this family's strengths and flaws and the way Adam has shaped and been shaped by them.A memorable exploration of the consequences of history on both a personal and an intellectual level.