The Lost & Found

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
The Lost & Found Book Poster Image
Online friends hatch plan to meet in sweet but bland tale.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Explanation of the Jewish tradition of sitting shiva after a family member dies. U.S. geography factors in to the story, as two characters take road trips from opposite coasts to meet up in Texas. Some discussion of schizophrenia and of the mental health of trauma survivors.

Positive Messages

With proper support and love, kids can work through tragedies. When you're struggling emotionally, it's good to seek help from professionals, family, and friends. Taking risks can help you grow as a person. Trust in those closest to you; they have your best interests at heart.

Positive Role Models & Representations

All the characters are good people, even if a few of them do make some flawed decisions. Frannie's grandparents lied to her, but they thought they were doing their best to give her a happy, secure upbringing. Frannie's cousin Arrow and Louis' twin sister, Willa, are supportive and helpful companions. Louis' parents love and want the best for their children. Louis and Frannie are stronger and have come further than they realize in the wake of traumas they've endured. Even though it's considered misguided to meet someone you only know on the internet, the families take precautions to be sure Louis and Frannie will be safe.

Violence

The few violent scenes are told in flashback. A dad stabs his daughter with a fountain pen. The wound and blood are described but not in gory detail. A young girl falls off a fire escape and loses her legs. The sounds of her hitting the pavement, a car running over her legs, and the feeling of the amputation surgery are described in detail.

Sex

The relationships in the book are not sexually charged. One character feels she isn't ready for sex with her boyfriend, but it isn’t a big point of interest in the book. Two characters hold hands and kiss once.

Language

Characters swear infrequently: "s--t" and its variations, "f--k" and its variations, "asshat," "a--hole," and "d--k."

Consumerism

Most products and media mentioned are for scene setting: Volkswagen, Honda Civic, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, FX, HBO, Disneyland and Disney World, Universal Studios, Jiffy Lube, TJ Maxx, iPad, iPhone, Facebook, and Google.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens each drink one small bottle of alcohol from a motel minibar; they don't get drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Lost & Found is a combination online-relationship, road trip, and trauma-survivor story. There's a touch of magic to the story, as the two find more than they bargained for when they hit the road. Though the story deals with internet friendships, driving to meet strangers, and trauma survivors, the content is mild. The characters all are decent people who generally make good decisions, with a few exceptions. The book doesn't have a lot of intensity in terms of conflict, violence, swearing, or substance use (limited to two teens drinking a small bottle of whiskey from a motel minibar). And the only sexual contact is some hand-holding and a kiss. Louis is biracial Indian-American, and white Frannie's cousin Arrow is adopted from Vietnam. 

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What's the story?

In THE LOST & FOUND, Frances Hephaestus Jameson and Louis Johar have been online friends for years, through a support group for trauma survivors. Neither knows the other's real name, but they have developed a close bond, sharing their deepest feelings and fears. Another thing they share is their tendency to lose things in the oddest manner. It isn't like they misplace their keys here and there: Items disappear without a trace, sometimes almost before their eyes. One day, each makes a life-changing trip to the mailbox, receiving surprising news. Throwing caution to the wind, they hatch a plan to meet up in real life. What follows is a coming-of-age road trip story that will influence how they're going to move on to the next stages of their lives.

Is it any good?

This sweet road trip story has an unexpected magical twist. Teens who enjoy dialogue-heavy stories without a lot of intensity will find much to like here. When Frannie and Louis decide to take their online friendship to the real-world level, they help each other figure out how much their past tragedies will define their futures. Told in the alternating points of view of Louis and Frannie, The Lost & Found is an enjoyable but sometimes bland read. The first half of the book is slow going, but it picks up once the characters start their road trips from opposite coasts to meet up in Austin, Texas.

Author Katrina Leno tried for quirky in her characters, but none of it rings true. Characters need more than odd names and unusual marriages to make them quirky. The story's concept is interesting, and the relationships are well drawn and engaging, which helps balance the flatness of the action. The book has a lot of dialogue, and the teens' rapport seems real. But it seems like the stakes should be higher in the story, given that both characters have survived tragedies and are road-tripping to meet a virtual stranger, yet none of it generates much excitement or emotion. The time line is sometimes hard to follow. For example, it's difficult to figure out when a pivotal violent event happened to Frannie, how long she was with her mother, and when she went to live with her grandparents. Other bits were odd, too, such as Frannie talking about it being almost dark when she goes for a run at 7 p.m. but Louis describing how bright the sun is at 7 p.m. on the same day. Overall, the book makes for a quick light read.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about making friends through online groups and social media, as Louis and Frannie do in The Lost & Found. Making friends this way can give you a chance to connect with people who have interests similar to yours, but are there risks in opening up to a stranger? What steps can you take to stay safe on the internet?

  • Lots of books and movies deal with secrets, especially where someone keeps a secret for the other person's own good. Can withholding the truth from someone ever be in that person's best interest?

  • In The Lost & Found, one of the things Frannie loses is her ability to draw. Has anything ever hit you so hard that you lost the desire for the things you love to do? Were you able to get back to those things?

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