Lost and Wanted

Lost and Wanted

'In the first few months after Charlie died, I began hearing from her much more frequently'Helen Clapp is a physics professor. She doesn't believe in pseudo-science, or time travel and especially not in ghosts. So when she gets a missed call from Charlie, her closest friend from university with whom she hasn't spoken in over a year, Helen thinks there must be some mistake....

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Title:Lost and Wanted
Author:Nell Freudenberger
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Lost and Wanted Reviews

  • Jeanette

    Very slow and also nearly perfect. If you are looking for action and convoluted plotting this is not the book for you. Or if reading about the Math minded or science nerd thought patterns can't be categorized in your own "exciting"? Then I would give this one a wide pass.

    This book is simply the best woman to woman friendship capture that I've read in many years. Helen and Charlie- I will remember you. Also the most unique "eyes" female entwined book since Mathematician's Shiva. Complications of

    Very slow and also nearly perfect. If you are looking for action and convoluted plotting this is not the book for you. Or if reading about the Math minded or science nerd thought patterns can't be categorized in your own "exciting"? Then I would give this one a wide pass.

    This book is simply the best woman to woman friendship capture that I've read in many years. Helen and Charlie- I will remember you. Also the most unique "eyes" female entwined book since Mathematician's Shiva. Complications of friendships and cognition of loss- this is a thesis.

    This is also about that age between 40 and 50 years when you are in the midst of life and career. Oftentimes the competing pulls of obligation, affection, dedication and just plain stopping to breath and sleep and live healthfully, economically in a sound best mode are all hard to pull together. And nearly never with optimal joy at the same time. It's about workmates and peers too and parental "eyes" of observed child habits. And most of all about omissions of contact or secrets of sorrows that we are apt to hide from our very closest.

    You read so many young coming of age and 20 something books in our present collections. And multitudes of the old and retiring backwards contemplative. But this "in the middle" state is rare, IMHO. And done this well without the midlife crisis comet in sight! Next to a miracle.

    I'll be reading Freudenberger of the future. For sure. I looked at her photo for a full minute after I turned the last page. She's SO young. And yet she is wise.

    If you love Science. If the biggest and the smallest of Physics in detail can begin a twist in your neurons to become imaginable! Then this read is your plum. It's like the Higgs effect too. It made me remember the void- the space "between" that remains forever empty. For it is always missing my most beloved friend.

  • Jessica Woodbury

    Physics is about the study of forces, our protagonist Helen tells us in this book. More than anything else, this book is about the power of the forces we exert upon one another that can last long after a person is actually gone.

    We have a tendency to think of science as certainty, as things that are known and set and certain. But if you're looking at modern physics, it's not like that at all. There's so much we cannot see, the giant but invisible effects of gravity with massive bodies like plane

    Physics is about the study of forces, our protagonist Helen tells us in this book. More than anything else, this book is about the power of the forces we exert upon one another that can last long after a person is actually gone.

    We have a tendency to think of science as certainty, as things that are known and set and certain. But if you're looking at modern physics, it's not like that at all. There's so much we cannot see, the giant but invisible effects of gravity with massive bodies like planets and black holes, the unpredictable nature of the tiny particles that make up the world. If there is any part of science that gives us the possibility for things that are not what they seem, for a new understanding of life, it's physics. And here Freudenberger uses that to excellent effect to create a sense of a scientific world that is also an unknowable one. When one black hole collides with another, the evidence can be found light years away, and by the end of the book it doesn't feel all that different from the forces that come from the attraction and collision between two people.

    Helen is a physicist of significant prominence. Charlie was her college roommate. Over the years they grew apart, living on opposite coasts, building separate lives. But Charlie's death, while she's still quite young from complications from lupus, has a profound impact on Helen. She spends a lot of time thinking about the years she and Charlie spent together. She befriends Charlie's bereaved husband and daughter. And she starts getting messages on her phone from Charlie, though Charlie's phone has been missing since her death.

    This is not a mystery or a ghost story. Sometimes I think it's important to know as little as possible about a book but here I worry that it will get sold as something that it isn't. The mystery of Charlie's messages is part of the story but not central to it, and if you get too wrapped up in that you can miss the beautiful book that's happening along the way. Helen and Charlie were very close but often very different and part of Helen's journey through her grief is reexamining and reevaluating her relationship with Charlie. Charlie is black, well-off, from east coast private school; Helen is white, middle-class, from west coast public school. There is a lot they do not understand about each other, their friendship was impossible to predict, and yet it works.

    Charlie is a force of charisma, talent, and ambition. But this is not one of those books where the protagonist is a cipher drawn to a magnetic person. Helen is her own person, eccentric, often isolated, a single parent by choice. I enjoyed spending time with Helen, I enjoyed how she saw physics in everything and how she didn't see herself as above laymen. Helen takes joy in explaining some of the most complex ideas in physics to her 7-year-old son (and us readers) and does so quite well. Helen misses Charlie and she also spends a lot of time thinking about the other major person in her life from that time who's also more distant--her first collaborator and former lover Neel.

    This is not one of those books where a scientist has their whole worldview fall apart from mysteries they can't explain. Helen is open to paradoxes and mysteries, she's willing to consider things that seem impossible. She lives in a world where we actually measure the ripples in space-time, what more is it to imagine that there is something more to human consciousness?

    This book was a real joy to read, a character study of not just Helen but everyone around her. Everyone felt real and complex, especially the two children who were particularly well-drawn, eccentric and sulky little weirdos. I have a soft spot for books about women in science, it's still a rare subject, and this holds its own with some of my other favorites--CHEMISTRY by Weike Wang and INTUITION by Allegra Goodman. Freudenberger has clearly done extensive scientific research and it shows, but the book doesn't feel hard to grasp. This type of character is often prickly and excessively eccentric, but Helen isn't the kind of person who sees herself as better than everyone else, she's just made a home for herself in her life and Charlie's death doesn't turn her into a more open person, but it does force her to crack open her contained life in interesting ways. I've read some Freudenberger before and enjoyed it but it really feels like she's come into her own here. The way she brings together big questions of science with the small intimacies of love and friendship is masterful.

  • Lex Poot

    Loved the science in the book. Also the themes are good. Women in science. Women of color and how hard it is to make a career. Sexual harassment. Only thing that I thought was that the protagonist Charly remained somewhat of a cardboard cut out until late in the book. I think it would be interesting to have a follow up about the relationships between her and Helen from her perspective.

    Caveat: I won the book with Goodreads Giveaway.

  • Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Helen knows everything about physics; Helen knows nothing about human relationships. Not that she hasn't had a few in her life...there's Neel Jonnal, a fellow physicist and a college boyfriend...her young son, Jack, who she conceived after giving up on finding a life partner...and, maybe the strongest and longest relationship of her life, Charlie Boyce, her college roommate. It is only when Charlie dies and Helen begins receiving text messages from her old friend that Helen begins to contemplate

    Helen knows everything about physics; Helen knows nothing about human relationships. Not that she hasn't had a few in her life...there's Neel Jonnal, a fellow physicist and a college boyfriend...her young son, Jack, who she conceived after giving up on finding a life partner...and, maybe the strongest and longest relationship of her life, Charlie Boyce, her college roommate. It is only when Charlie dies and Helen begins receiving text messages from her old friend that Helen begins to contemplate the limits of human consciousness.

    The story has elements of science fiction and fantasy and mystery and romance, but the real story is about Helen and the bonds she tries to forge with others.

    Whew! This book is deeply (DEEPLY) science-y, but, if you are like me and tried to skip science in school, don't let that hold you back from reading this delight of a book.

  • Kerry

    I wanted to read this because it sounded like a story about surviving a loss. It is that, and it was well-written. But it felt a little like watching someone's home movie while they explain what you're seeing. Nothing really interesting happens most of the time and when it did I was kind of unimpressed.

  • Anna

    *I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    I think I wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did, but that's not to say I disliked it.

    This is not a ghost story so it's best to prepare yourself for that going in. Instead, it is a tale about loss and grief. Helen Clopp is an intelligent Physics professor and a solo mother by choice to the delightfully wonderful Jack. She is very, very scientifically minded which is crucial as to how she perceiv

    *I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    I think I wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did, but that's not to say I disliked it.

    This is not a ghost story so it's best to prepare yourself for that going in. Instead, it is a tale about loss and grief. Helen Clopp is an intelligent Physics professor and a solo mother by choice to the delightfully wonderful Jack. She is very, very scientifically minded which is crucial as to how she perceives the world. The relationship she has with Jack is very sweet and honest. In fact, the parts that I liked the most in this book were the interactions with the children. Helen is dealing with the loss of her college friend Charlie meanwhile she's receiving emails and messages from her recently deceased friend, made all the worse when her son Jack claims he's seen Charlie in her office.

    The science throughout was completely lost on me. Even when put into accessible terms, like the novels that Helen is said to write, it just tends to go way over my head. Physics and I just don't get on. And there's a loooot of science jokes and references through this that did hinder my enjoyment, especially when Neel, Helen's coworker and ex, rudely states at one point that autoimmune disorders aren't real, which I suppose is my own personal bugbear. The way it's told narratively was also confusing to me at times and I found it hard to get a grasp on how much time was passing.

    Still, I found the resolution of the messages from Charlie very sweet and realistic with how grief is dealt with which again loops round to how I cared for some characters more than I did others. Overall, I did like the book but I can't see myself rereading this, but I definitely was hooked from the first line.

  • Elyse Walters

    Audiobook... narrated by Ann Marie Lee.

    The beginning of this book was like fireworks that starts with a bang...then fizzles down fast to a warm heat.

    “In the first few months after Charlie died, I began hearing from her much more frequently”, is the opening sentence.

    I was anxious to get some more details and answers about that first sentence....but it’s a long time coming.

    We don’t really feel it’s power until the end of the book.

    But the storytelling takes off ....and ‘mostly’ I enjoyed the ri

    Audiobook... narrated by Ann Marie Lee.

    The beginning of this book was like fireworks that starts with a bang...then fizzles down fast to a warm heat.

    “In the first few months after Charlie died, I began hearing from her much more frequently”, is the opening sentence.

    I was anxious to get some more details and answers about that first sentence....but it’s a long time coming.

    We don’t really feel it’s power until the end of the book.

    But the storytelling takes off ....and ‘mostly’ I enjoyed the ride.

    Nell’s Physics research - The Black Hole - and spacetime -is scrupulous and winningly presented....but her strength shines through her characters: exploring friendships - disconnected relationships-lovers- loss- death - family - single partnering - and the children. The kids are funny.

    The character, Helen Clapp, is single mother by choice from an egg donor.

    She’s is a scientist with a sense of humor....but her best long time friend - old college roommate from Harvard- is dead. Memories and regret surface.

    Universal themes are explored...love, life, loss, death, regret, family, children, single parenting, the afterlife, change, longing, and hope.

    Relationships shine as being the heartbeat of life.

    It’s incredibly researched, written for mainstream - non science buffs - (thoughts about the universe)...but it’s the deeper look at emotional loss stemming from a friend’s death, that was most affecting.

    3.5 rating.

  • Sarah

    This book was SLOW, drawn out and seemingly didn't have a plot. There is way too much science in the book to the point where I started skimming over large chunks because I don't have a PhD in physics and you need one to understand this (ironically, though, the main character Helen supposedly writes books to make physics understandable for the average person).

    There was no plot, and trying to get through over 300 plot-less pages is just brutal. The character interactions were interesting, but they

    This book was SLOW, drawn out and seemingly didn't have a plot. There is way too much science in the book to the point where I started skimming over large chunks because I don't have a PhD in physics and you need one to understand this (ironically, though, the main character Helen supposedly writes books to make physics understandable for the average person).

    There was no plot, and trying to get through over 300 plot-less pages is just brutal. The character interactions were interesting, but they didn't seem to go anywhere. The book literally just ended, to the point where I was swiping to figure out what I missed. After going on and on, the end was so abrupt it was pretty much in the middle of a scene.

    I thought this book would be interesting, and I don't mind a little science tossed in, but this seemed like an author who had a great deal of physics knowledge and tried to write a fiction book with it. Overall, it didn't work for me.

    Thank you to the FirstToRead program for an advanced review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Book of the Month

    Why I love it

    by Siobhan Jones

    Before we get into everything that makes this book so great, our editorial team wants to be clear on one thing:

    is a

    challenging, occasionally slow-going literary work that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s also quite brilliant but, well, you’ve been warned.

    The story follows Helen Clapp, a physicist and single mom whose work on astrophysics has garnered her tenure at MIT, a handful of book deals, and … perhaps fewer close relationships than sh

    Why I love it

    by Siobhan Jones

    Before we get into everything that makes this book so great, our editorial team wants to be clear on one thing:

    is a

    challenging, occasionally slow-going literary work that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s also quite brilliant but, well, you’ve been warned.

    The story follows Helen Clapp, a physicist and single mom whose work on astrophysics has garnered her tenure at MIT, a handful of book deals, and … perhaps fewer close relationships than she had anticipated. So she’s surprised when she receives a text from Charlie, her enigmatic best friend from college with whom she’s fallen out of touch. Surprised, also, because Charlie has recently passed away.

    Where is this going? Not where you think.

    is a complex book, and its many storylines function less as plot points than as wormholes to a web of fascinating cerebral digressions. You get the sense that the narrator, Helen, wants to both tell the story and keep the reader at a distance—and all that space (no pun intended) provides ample room for your own imagination to rush in. A great book for an afternoon of mind expansion, this is a read for those reaching for the stars.

    Read more at:

  • Kathleen Flynn

    I found so much to admire about this novel, yet it left me feeling a little flat in the end and I am trying to work out why.

    In some respects I am reminded of Come With Me, another recent novel I read recently using science and technology as a way to talk about love and friendship, roads not taken, etc. Lost and Wanted has a lot more science, however, and for me at least is a more affecting story. There is a great deal about physics and the life of an academic, but also about the routines of bei

    I found so much to admire about this novel, yet it left me feeling a little flat in the end and I am trying to work out why.

    In some respects I am reminded of Come With Me, another recent novel I read recently using science and technology as a way to talk about love and friendship, roads not taken, etc. Lost and Wanted has a lot more science, however, and for me at least is a more affecting story. There is a great deal about physics and the life of an academic, but also about the routines of being a parent. The exchanges the main character, Helen, has with her son and with another child, the daughter of her deceased best friend who ends up living in the basement apartment with her widowed father, were among my favorite aspects of the book. They are neither sentimental nor generic, but particular and weird the way life itself is. I also admired the nonlinear way the story was spun out, how it jumped between years without being confusing, and the gentle sense of suspense thus created.

    What I think was less successful for me was some difficulty I had with the first-person narrator. At times Helen is sharply perceptive, noticing wonderfully subtle things about the people and situations around her. Yet she also at other points is presented as -- and truly seems -- quite awkward, a nerdy scientist who doesn't know how to relate to people. I know people are complicated and not always exactly the same way, but she didn't quite cohere for me, and this created some confusion, putting a distance between the reader and the teller. Part of it may have been related to the nonlinear storytelling -- we are jumping back in time to various earlier moments in her life and friendship with Charlie, whose death opens the action of the novel. Perhaps Helen has changed over time, become smarter about people? A difficulty of telling a story this way is that is harder to create a sense of change and progression.

    This is one of those novels where everyone is annoyingly remarkable in some way: excessively good-looking, super-smart, or a Harvard professor, etc. You just have to deal with that.

    The novels opens as a bit of a modern ghost story: Helen seems to be receiving text messages and email from her dead friend, and throwing all the physics in implies that somehow we will get some kind of spooky quantum explanation for why. The resolution of this mystery seems to try to have it both ways. Helen's efforts at romantic connection likewise fail; we are left with the sense that her life will be about science and her son, and that has to be OK. On one hand I admire the writer's refusal to tie everything up in a neat bow and give us a Hollywoodish happy ending. On the other I suppose I wanted something...more self-awareness? I don't know. Endings are hard; this certainly is not a terrible one.

    On the sentence level I enjoyed this book a lot and found I had to read it slowly, not because it was confusing, but it demanded (and rewarded) patience.

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