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Lost and Found    by Carolyn Parkhurst order for
Lost and Found
by Carolyn Parkhurst
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton

Carolyn Parkhurst has done it again. Dogs of Babel, the Today Show pick a number of years ago, had a very interesting plot in which a man tried to teach his dog to speak in order to find out how his wife died. In Lost and Found, Parkhurst creates an equally interesting plot by taking the current popularity of reality shows and making it into an appealing story about a group of dysfunctional people.

The reader is thrown into this reality TV show, 'Lost and Found', right from the first page, which takes us to Aswan, Egypt. The reality show is already in progress, with seven teams left to be eliminated (each team consisting of two people). The opening chapter is narrated by Laura, who's in a mother and daughter team. She lays out the format of the game, in which teams travel all over the world, collecting clues to lead them to the next step. The show is hosted by a seemingly cold woman, Barbara Fox, as players compete to win the grand prize.

Each player carries emotional baggage. Laura and her daughter Cassie are not getting along, and no one is supposed to know that Cassie hid a pregnancy and then had the baby in the attic of their home. To Laura's embarrassment, she only found out about the baby after Cassie gave birth. Laura tries to make up for it during this worldwide adventure, but the two are not communicating. Other players include: a team of former child stars; a formerly gay married couple who are now proving to the world that they are Christians and avowing that the gay life is sinful; two brothers who are as different as night and day; and two millionaire inventors. The story is driven by each couples' secrets. As the game moves on, each team starts falling apart due to stress, fatigue, and things that happen within the concept of the reality TV show.

I don't know if this is truly how reality TV shows are produced, but I suspect it's pretty close. I found it interesting to see inside such a television show - what people go through to get these shows on the air, and why certain contestants are picked over others. At the same time, I enjoyed the well-done character study of dysfunctional people who slowly fall apart in front of the camera. The stories within the novel kept me glued to the pages.

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