Carolyn Parkhurst: Lost and Found

by Rachel Baker on December 3, 2008

Carolyn Parkhurst, Lost and FoundTake the ‘Amazing Race’ reality TV show, release the transcripts and travel journals of the contestants and you’ve got Lost and Found.  We find out the story of the two main characters (mother/daughter) in the first couple of chapters and we wait to see how their relationship either explodes or is repaired.  We find out the two “ex-gay” people, who happen to be married, are unhappy with their decisions to denounce their homosexuality tendencies and desires.  The others in the cast of the show are flight attendants, divorced brothers, former child stars who have become “has beens” and want to jump start their careers again, and millionaire inventor best friends.  Most of the characters have some great big dramatic secret that gets them on the show.  These big dramatic secrets, though, they aren’t really big or dramatic.  The only person you can remotely feel sorry for is the daughter, because she’s a confused kid who set herself up for a bad situation.

Mom and one of the divorced fathers fall in love; mom and daughter have a few falling outs, but ultimately begin to heal their relationship, and ex-gay husband has a homosexual tryst in Japan and still takes no responsibility for his hypocritical ideas on the whole “ex-gay” mission he is on.  He makes his wife feel like crap because she really is more attracted to woman than men, and recognizes she is living a lie. Of the two former child stars, only one of them learns anything about reality vs the world she’s been living in, but really we can’t be sure she’s not just acting for the cameras. Behind the scenes, the production team is trying to figure out ways to get all these secrets to come out on camera, and they are deviant in their plans.  Daughter flips out because of her difficulty dealing with her big secret and ex-gay guy flips out and assualts the production team. The only real tenderness of this book is at the end when mom tells daughter she can tell her every year the story about her daughter’s birth.

This book, in my humble opinion, does not live up to the reviews on the back cover and the first two inside pages of praise.   After reading this book, I’m wondering if the people who gave this book good reviews are big fans of reality TV.  If I read that a book “may be the most emotionally satisfying novel of the season”  I’m expecting a long way gone, The Shack, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle or Jackfish, The Vanishing Village.  I’m expecting tears, and heart-wrenching conversations and soul searching moments. I’m looking for some aspect of the story that is reflective and may actually be enlightening.  I found none of this in Lost and Found.

I was seriously thinking this would be a much better story than what you would find on reality TV based on the summary of the book and the initial reviews. I thought there would be some interesting twist that would leave me a bit more enlightened than when I started.  Maybe it was the format that caused this lack of appeal for me.  Maybe if I go back and read the character chapters consecutively rather than jumping around from character to character, I might be able to see what others saw.  Maybe not.  Maybe my expectations were a bit too high on this one.  I guess people who really like reality TV might enjoy this book.

Here’s another review from Anysia at Booklorn who did like this book.

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