“Lost Children Archive: A Novel”, by Valeria Luiselli, (Alfred A. Kopf, New York) 2019, $27.95 hardcover, 383 pages.
When was the last time your family decided to take a road trip many miles from home? When was the last time, as a child, that you were allowed to decide the destination and the stops along the way? When was the last time, as a child, that you remembered your parents enjoying a road trip with love?
Some of these questions may get answered as you read “Lost Children Archive: A Novel,” by Valeria Luiselli. The author is recognized as a critically acclaimed writer with numerous book prize nominations and winner of two Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.
Her novel offers the reader information on the travels of a not-so-loving couple with two of their minor children, going from New York City to Apacheria, Arizona. The dad is questioned by the son as to why Arizona, and is told, “Because they were the last of something.” To the husband, this part of Arizona was the last bastion of free people who lived before whites invaded the land.
This trip, for the parents, was going to be one in which aspects of the travel would be archived. To accomplish this feat, they had to be severely organized and in addition to their clothing, they had to reserve space for references, folders, and boxes for their archives.
The novel has several layers of background information, and the reader will discover early that the family is leaving the north for the west. Also, in their travel, they will observe that many undocumented persons are attempting to enter America from the other Americas.
The book is divided into four parts (chapters) with seven boxes of information for archived materials. These boxes will represent layers of family relationships as well as appreciating other families along the way.
Imagine traveling by automobile from New York City and entering the states of Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Texas. Even in America, with all of our high tech media, there is the discovery that people are different, and sometimes not in a pleasant way.
“Lost Children Archive: A Novel” is about children, family and relationships. The author has presented to the reader a New York City family, and families/children with and without papers who are attempting to enter the United States. The writer offers clear and compelling experiences, worthy of being archived. For some, this may be a challenging novel; however, life is about challenges, remembering, and archiving feelings. This novel is great summer reading, and maybe a book for your family’s next road trip.