Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

A family comes together after the man and woman meet at work.  Both are audio documentarians and work at archiving sounds of the city that could disappear.  Both have a child from a previous relationship so the new family has a husband, wife, son and daughter.  They are a close family.  As time goes by, the husband becomes interested in the Apaches and how their tribe disappeared.  He tells the children stories of chiefs live Geronimo and Cochise.  The wife becomes interested in the concept of lost children due to the immigration crisis at the southern border.  A friend of theirs has two daughters who have traveled alone to find their mother and who have been seized by the authorities.

But as time goes by a distance starts to grow.  The husband informs his wife that he wants to take an extended family road trip from their New York City home to the Southwest.  He wants to visit the former Apache lands and the things left from the tribe.  He then informs her that his project will take a long time, at least a year maybe more.

Unsure what this means for the family, they take off on a road trip.  The children are close and as the days go by, the family learns about America as they travel, give each other nicknames as the Indians gave each other names that reflected the person's interests and skills.  The parents grow more and more distant but the children are oblivious as children often are.  Everything comes to a head when their friend's children become lost and their own children decide to leave to try to find the little girls wandering in the desert.

This is an interesting take on the immigration issues that are facing our country as well as others.  It talks about alienation, what it means to be a family and what one is willing to give up in order to be with those one loves.  It raises the issue of whether work or family should be the paramount force and which will need to be compromised in order to have both.  This book is a Booker nominee and is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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