“Lost Children Archive” by Valeria Luiselli

Thanks to Harper Collins UK and Netgalley for the Advance Review Copy.

I tried with this book, I really did. The premise was interesting and there is some good buzz around it.

This novel follows a family on a road trip from New York City to Arizona. The mother and father document sounds…? The sounds of life and the city? Or something. To be honest I was pretty much lost and confused from this point onwards. The narrative is intersected with migrant children’s experiences and attitudes towards indigenous people.

The topic is clearly a current and important one and sometimes I felt like I was reading an article or thinkpiece as opposed to a novel. I thought the tension between someone having to sacrifice their career desires for their partner’s was identifiable.

What really killed this book for me though was the writing style. The language is exceedingly turgid and there are long rambling paragraphs that made no sense to me whatsoever. It came across as trying to be rather smug and clever to me, without being very clever at all. The narrator switch about half way through was jarring and the boy’s voice wasn’t credible to me as a pre-teen boy.

This is also the third book I’ve read recently where children are referred to as ‘the boy’ or ‘the girl’. If writers could stop doing this that would be GREAT.

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