Lion Forge: No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant

Lost Children Archive

In her spellbinding novel Lost Children ArchiveValeria Luiselli (Tell Me How It Ends) weaves a complex narrative from the migrant crisis on the southern U.S. border.

At the story's center is an unnamed family traveling from New York City to Arizona. The mother and father are sound documentarians who met while recording a soundscape of the city. Now the father is focusing on lost Apache culture, determined to visit their homeland and record what he calls an "inventory of echoes." The mother is focusing her journalistic skills on the migrant crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, specifically on finding the two lost children of her Latina friend back in New York. The couple's children, a five-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy, try to make sense of life on the road. Along the way the family shares stories, music, books and boxes full of their stuff. The point of view shifts from the mother to the boy and back again toward the end.

As much as the novel has large political themes, it begins as an astute study of marriage and family. Then, as the family travels farther on, they find run-down towns strewn with the relics of late capitalism, and a citizenry afraid of "brownness," ready to blame poorer nations for their own problems. The parents become increasingly obsessed with their respective projects, so the boy hatches a plan of his own to get his parents' attention, leading to the novel's harrowing conclusion.

Lost Children Archive is a haunting novel that illuminates timely issues. --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset