The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller

The Luster of Lost Things

Sophie Chen Keller

A feel good story with an inspiring and universal lesson at its heart, perfect for fans of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, A Man Called Ove, and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

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In this story for readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Man Called Ove, when all seems lost, he finds what matters most.

Walter Lavender Jr. is a master of finding. A wearer of high-tops. A maker of croissants. A son keeping vigil, twelve years counting.
 
But he wouldn’t be able to tell you. Silenced by his motor speech disorder, Walter’s life gets lonely. Fortunately, he has The Lavenders—his mother’s enchanted dessert shop, where marzipan dragons breathe actual fire. He also has a knack for tracking down any missing thing—except for his lost father.
 
So when the Book at the root of the bakery’s magic vanishes, Walter, accompanied by his overweight golden retriever, journeys through New York City to find it—along the way encountering an unforgettable cast of lost souls.
 
Steeped in nostalgic wonder, The Luster of Lost Things explores the depths of our capacity for kindness and our ability to heal. A lyrical meditation on why we become lost and how we are found, from the bright, broken heart of a boy who knows where to look for everyone but himself.


Advance Galley Reviews

Ever since Walter Lavender Jr, heard the story of his father’s disappearance as a pilot, he has been fascinated with lost things. This interest in lost things leads to a hobby of finding things that others have lost. Leading a solitary life within his mother’s pastry shop, a byproduct of his own struggles with a speech disorder, the hobby give him a reason besides school to venture out of the shop. The pastry shop his mother owns holds its own appeal which has made his lack of friends less noticeable. The shop contains a magical book of drawings given to Walter’s mother for her kindness to a lonely woman. This book brings the pastries in the shop to life and vols-au-vent mice frolic throughout the display cases among sleeping treacle and waddling penguin cookies. But when a new landlord purchases the building of the shop, the rent is increased and the book mysteriously disappears. Deciding to put his gift of finding things to the test, Walter embarks on a daylong journey in which he searches for the book and finds himself. Author Sophie Chen Keller’s flawless storytelling makes a case for everyday magic. Setting her story in New York City and told through the eyes of a young boy with a rich internal life, Keller unwraps a story of deeper layers. The Luster of Lost Things has been compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which is apt, but there is also a fantastical and deeper meaning that brings to mind Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth. Keller’s writing crafts a world that is gently sheathed in the supernatural which most miss, but those who see, accept. This enchanting approach is similar in style to Alice Hoffman, though if Hoffman’s magic can verge on the dark, Keller’s stays firmly in the light. A transcendent story of perseverance and self-discovery. Many thanks to Penguin Random House for an advanced look at this through their First to Read Program

This book was a little strange - kind of reads like a fable. It's not plausible that a 13 year old boy could safely traipse around Manhattan all day, running into all sorts of characters, looking for the pages of a book, a book that is apparently the magic that keeps his mother's bakery in the black. It was entertaining though. And the writing style was beautiful.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It's a story about a little boy that doesn't speak, whose mom owns a bakery that comes to live due to the magic of a book of drawings that was given by a stranger one night. The book goes missing and the little boy sets off on an adventure to track down the book and every missing page so that he can restore the magic and so that they don't lose the shop. The story keeps you intrigued by all the characters he comes across during his search, and incorporates enough of the childhood imagination that we all lost along the way to our adulthood. If you are looking for something refreshing and entertaining definitely check this book out!

The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller is a wonderful, magical adventure about a boy who has a gift of finding lost things. Walter Lavender Jr. has motor speech disorder, and while that keeps him mostly silent, he has a knack for finding lost things. His mother runs a lovely bakery that is fueled by a magical book that was gifted to her and when that book goes missing, Walter takes it upon himself to find the book and restore the magic before they lose the bakery. Accompanied by his dog, Milton, they set out across New York City to search for the book and along the way Walter finds his strengths and a few friends along the way. I really enjoyed this lovely story although it took a little time getting into, but once I did I was sucked in. Full of hope, love and finding what is lost, this story is made for everyone who may have a little trouble finding their voice at times. Definitely recommend.

This one started out good for me. I like the description of the bakery and the characters Walter and Lucy, but I lost interest halfway through and was busy with vacation and I ran out of time to finish it.

Walter Lavender Jr. just isn't good at speaking to people--but he has a special gift for finding lost things, and that's where he shines, and can even communicate pretty well. When something important is lost from his mother's magical bakery, draining the magic and imperiling their livelihood, he'll have to put that skill to the test. Walter is pretty direct. Sheltered, and a bit naive--he uses logic to hunt for his lost things, but there are some leaps he fails to make that are pretty clear to me. Still, he's an interesting narrator, and the story he tells has a dash of magic in it. It's entertaining, a bit wistful for the losses of his life, and transformative. But the story also starts rather slow, and at a certain point, rather loops back on itself when it seems like it might be almost over. A fun, thoughtful read, but one you have to be patient with.

This book completely surprised me in the best way. I didn't read the synopsis very closely, so that was part of it, but I really wasn't expecting how magical and adventurous this book was. Walter captured my heart. I felt so much empathy for him throughout the story and was totally rooting for him along his journey. I will definitely be recommending this to my friends + family!

This is a wonderful book with a unique storyline and warm, whimsical characters. There's magic, there's adventure, there's a boy and his dog - you can't ask for much more. Most importantly, the story reminds us that what's lost, whether it's an object, a person, a voice or your direction in life, will eventually be found. We need to keep our eyes open and be brave enough and persistent enough to keep looking.

I loved this book! Verbally challenged teen Walter Lavender, Jr. is an expert at finding lost things but no amount of searching is able to find his lost father. When the magical Book goes missing from Lucy Lavender's very special pastry shop, her son sets out on a mission to return the book to its special spot. It quickly turns into an adventure full a variety of vividly painted characters who have lost something. Walter pauses his search to help learning life lessons along the way. I will never look at puff pastry to same, imagining them as magical vol-au-vents with chocolate tails scurrying around the room. Although I don't have children, I can picture reading this book aloud at bedtime to imaginative minds young & old.

This book was very cute, but it definitely dragged for me. I was all in for the first 75 pages and learning about how he found things and his method but after that it became a slog for me to read unfortunately. I think that this book would be perfect for most people, but it just was not in my wheelhouse this time. Very light and whimsical.

I enjoyed the opening chapters of this book, especially the magical elements, but ultimately the book lost steam and I had to abandon it.

The beginning was perfect but I was expecting other plot. When the history begins to unfold everything turns very boring, looks like there are too much unnecessary characters.

This was such a delightful read. I enjoyed every moment in the pages of this book.

This book feels you with a cozy and warm sensation. The writing draws you in and envelops you in a blanket. Loved the characters in it and the way the story progressed.

In the beginning it reminded me of the movie "Chocolat" with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp - just the image of the boy and his mother in the shop and how people found them quirky, but loveable. Walter's special gift to find things helps us find the magic in life and how special connections help us not feel so lost as people. The prose flows, sometimes a little too long in places, but pushing through was worth it. A sweet story and one that makes for a good beach read!

This is likely me and not the book. It seemed well written but I never connected with the characters. I liked the magical realism aspect but the execution failed for me.

The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller is a beautifully written, magical tale that should not be missed. Charming, sweet, and filled with wonder, this book is an absolute delight, and highly recommended.

"The Luster of Lost Things" by Sophie Chen Keller is one of those magical books that you can't put down, full of wonder and the triumph of the human spirit. Walter Lavender Jr., 12, is not like a lot of kids his age for a number of reasons. Born with a speech condition that makes it hard for him to form sentences and speak clearly, he also doesn't fit in with a lot of his classmates. He also has an incredible gift: he can find lost things. Give him a description or picture of what you're missing, and Walter can find it. He helps find lost music instruments, lost heirlooms, and can find anything except the one thing he wants to find the most: his missing airpilot father. Born days after his father disappeared while in flight, he's never stopped hoping to hear from the man he's never known but feels so close to nevertheless. (He waits everyday for the postman to deliver a letter from his father, with the heartbreaking response, 'Not today, son' every time.) All the while, he's dealing with bullies at school and retreats into his own world through writing headline-type responses, in a notebook he keeps with him, on observations he makes on the things around him. Walter's mother, Lucy, runs a dessert shop, The Lavenders, in a district where rents are going up and small businesses are closing for more corporate ones. Their shop, however, has a magical way about it (people find it when they least expect it or the shop somehow 'finds' them) and it's all due to a book given to Lucy from the first days of the shop being open that contains a magical tale that is displayed in the window. One day, however, the book goes missing and so do the customers and business. To get everything back to the way it was, Walter goes searching for the lost book in the city with only his faithful companion, Milton, a golden retriever, to save his mother's shop. As he goes searching, he finds the pages have gone scattered throughout the city and have come into possession to different people. As he goes finding the pages, he meets new and different people, those who society has deemed 'lost' or they themselves consider to be and Walter comes to wonder what will become of him and how close he could be to becoming 'lost' as well. As he gathers page after page of the small 7-page book, he hears story after story of the tapestry of human life and how we're all connected and how sometimes being 'lost', as is said in the book, can be a bridge. Wonderfully told, and truthfully not dry-eyed by the end of it, this book should be the next magical book that people are talking about. In other hands, it might come off as less, but Keller expertly provides a literature novel that breaks through to the heart and mends it back together again. You'll truly find yourself rooting for Walter to succeed, not only in his quest to find the missing pages of the shop's book, but to become the outstanding human being that he is destined to be. For sure add this to your list of books to read. And keep a tissue to dry your eyes handy.

It took me a while to get through this book because I felt like I needed to take time to really digest each chapter. I thought it was a beautiful story with an amazing and rare main character; one suffering from a motor speech disorder, who still is brilliantly intelligent and curious about the world around him. The characters and the ideas of chasing after these important lost things, like The Book, was a captivating tale and I really like the premise of the idea. Although I enjoyed the style of diction and writing that Sophie uses, in the middle of the book, I kind of struggled to get through it because I found it a little boring and slow moving; but I wanted Walter to get back to Lucy, so I pushed through and kept reading. I loved the character and idea of Lucy. I think she is a fantastic mom, and all the time that Walter was away from home, I kept wondering and worrying about the panic Lucy must have felt to find her son gone. I also found it sweet that Walter was determined not to go home until he could find The Boom for his mom, so that she could become herself again as the best baker of sweets for their shop. I thought the ending was also perfect, and the reunion between Lucy and Walter was heart-warming. Thank you to First to Read for giving me the opportunity to read and review this magical story!

The leaves are starting to turn on the trees here, and as much as my heart desires to prolong summer, Autumn is undeniably on its way. My daughter enters Kindergarten this Wednesday, and my morning runs are starting to take on a slight chill to them. With the changing weather and season of life it has been the perfect time to curl up with something cozy and heartwarming, and The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller is just that sort of book. Easily a 5 Star novel (seriously, I didn't even hesitate) this book is bound to be one of my top ten fall reads. Twelve year old Walter Lavender Jr. finds things. His life revolves around The Lavenders, a magical sweet shop in Manhattan that connects people, but one that only appears to those that need it. Coping with a speech disorder, Walter quietly goes through life searching for connection, and his missing father. But his quiet haven is disrupted when the thing that matters to him the most disappears. Now Walter must go on an epic journey through New York City with an affable golden retriever sidekick in search for the Book that has infused The Lavenders with its magic, before the shop is lost for good. The prose in this book is whimsical with a poetic touch. Keller's words come to life and sweep you away into the magic corners of New York City and Central Park. Hints of magical realism give the story a nostalgic fairy tale feel, like your favorite children's book left to age, and the lessons that Walter Lavender Jr learns along the way are sure to pull at any person's heart. Having lived in New York City for two years, I felt that Keller's book did a good job at capturing the spirit of the city. Her descriptions of Manhattan drew me back to my runs in Central Park and rides on the subway to the point where it felt like it was yesterday. There were also some autobiographical underpinnings in conjunction with Walter's speech disorder and her own language barriers as a Chinese immigrant that gave the novel a personal touch. If you are in need of a warm encouraging novel that restores your faith in the power of kindness and people,The Luster of Lost Things is the perfect thing to slip into your fall reading stack.

Thank you First to Read for giving me the chance to read The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller. This book is about a 12 year old boy named Walter who has a speech disorder. Walter enjoys helping others find lost things and when an item that belongs to his mom goes missing and she is in jeopardy of losing her bakery because of it, he sets out on a mission to find it. This book showed how a boy could make it through the street of New York City bringing people together and uniting in his search for the missing book all while not be able to express what he needed to through speaking. I really enjoyed this book and found it to be an easy read.

12 year-old Walter has a speaking disorder that has left him a bit alienated from the world around him. He feels most at home when he is looking for things people have lost or in his mother's pastry shop. The shop is magical as the result of a book given by a stranger they comforted. So when the book disappears, of course Walter is going to cut class to go try to find it. On the way, Walter meets many memorable people and each meeting helps him understand both them and himself. The book is written almost like poetry with beautiful, vivid imagery. The treat shop is magical. Ms. Keller's writing is lyrical. This is a book to savor and enjoy.

I found this story to be sweet and magical. There were moments where I found myself a little bogged down in the journey, but I am glad that I stuck with it.

I thought this was a really cute story about a magical bakery and a boy and his dog. Very cute, easy, quick read.

This book was absolutely stunning, magical, and whimsical. I adored it! This is the story of a thirteen year old boy, Walter Lavender, Jr. He has a motor speech disorder. This disorder causes him to rarely speak out loud, for he is afraid of his words coming out jumbled and being made fun of for it. He keeps a notebook where he writes down all his perceptions of the world and the people around him. This book is not told by saying, rather than by perceiving. We see and notice everything Walter Jr. sees in his mind’s eye. It is quite a unique take on a character point of view. I loved getting the insight of someone with a speech disorder. They pick up so much more detail with the world than the average person; always looking and paying attention to the world around them. Walter Jr. can speak when he wants to, usually short, practiced sentences. My whole life, my mouth had been shut and my eyes wide open, and the deeper and darker my silence became, the more I began to sense outside of it–traces of light, shifts in matter, changing undercurrents.” -Sophie Chen Keller, The Luster of Lost Things Walter Jr. has a knack for finding lost things. He lives in New York City, so when he sees a sign for a lost item, he contacts the person and helps them find their lost thing. He has solved every case he has ever taken up; all besides his own case. When he was just a baby in the womb of his mother’s belly, his father, Walter Lavender Sr., disappeared while co-piloting a flight. Ever since Walter Jr. realized he had a knack for finding things, he made it his goal in life to find his father and bring him home. Walter Jr.’s mother, Lucy, owns a magical dessert shop, where the desserts actually come alive. Each dessert has a distinct personality of its own. The shop hasn’t always been magical though. One wintry night, a woman sat outside the shop in the snow with nowhere to go. Lucy invited her in for the night to keep warm. The next morning when her and Walter Jr. awoke, the woman was gone but she had left a book behind. The book was the story of the woman’s life, in drawings, and it ended with the kindness of Lucy letting her into the shop to keep warm. Ever since that book was left, the dessert shop became enchanted, the desserts came alive, and people started noticing the shop. One day, the book goes missing, along with the magic. The desserts were no longer alive and people stopped coming in. Lucy and Walter Jr. were on the verge of losing the shop forever. Walter Jr. being a professional in finding lost things, goes out into the city, with his best friend and dog, Milton, to find the missing book. What he finds along his journey is much more than a missing book. It is a journey of of finding the confidence in himself to do what he wants most in the world, to form a connection with others rather than just observing. He finds the confidence in himself to speak up rather than shut himself inwards. He finds new friends and discovers that an act of kindness can make a difference in a person’s life. This is truly a beautiful read. “I feel like I have been walking toward this moment, the final movement of some opus of existence in which I already experienced love and fear and anger and loneliness, and along the way I found courage and vulnerability and connection and conviction.” -Sophie Chen Keller, The Luster of Lost Things I recommend this book to readers who enjoy stories with great character development or like character-driven stories. I also recommend it to anyone who loves the genre magical realism. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars! Thank you to Penguin's First to Read program for an advanced copy of this book for review in return for an honest review.

THE LUSTER OF LOST THINGS was magical in the first half but lost much of its luster in the second half with its predictable plot and slow pacing. It definitely was a struggle to finish the novel. While I did enjoy the imagery of the language and some of the quirky characters, I had a hard time with the Walter Jr., the main character in the novel. His “voice” seemed inconsistent and was more distracting than enlightening. It just felt like a key ingredient was missing... My thanks to Penguin First to Read for the Advance Reader Copy.

"The Luster of Lost Things", by Sophie Chen Keller, is a magical and uplifting story of a young boy who by looking for missing things discovers his place in his enchanted world. Set in New York City, Walter Jr lives with his mother above their enchanted bakery where cookies dance and meringues jiggle around, all thanks to a magical book. When the book goes missing, Walter goes on an adventure throughout the city, encountering all different people and forcing him to summon his courage in order to find the book and save the bakery. As entertaining as the adventures are, the real magic comes from watching Walter's growth, strength of character, and how he comes to terms with the greatest loss of all: his missing father. This is a delightful story that I highly recommend for those that are looking for their own lost things.

This book is a magical journey of a boy and his dog through the hidden worlds we walk by every day. They are on a treasure hunt for something so special it will revitalize his entire neighborhood. It's about selflessness, understanding, appreciation, and the love that brightens our days and warms our hearts. It's about family, friends, neighbors, and strangers and how we can help each other find true happiness. This is a super-sweet adventurous book we all wish we could re-read for the first time. I loved it and so will you. I will be telling all my book loving friends about this one.

I needed some time to get engaged with the story, but once I did, I was totally hooked. Though I wasn't initially convinced that if the "magic" was real, I have to assume that's more a reflection of my own "adulting" than anything else. Once I gave myself over and accepted the magic, the story clicked. Walter's voice was a tad mature, but perhaps this was written from the perspective of an adult remembering a key moment in his childhood.

I really wanted to love this book. I absolutely loved the magical bakery and the story of Walter Sr. Walter Jr was a lovely character, but I feel like the story got to bogged down with the constant internal thought and processing that was hard to believe a 12 year old boy would be making. I kept thinking that maybe I was suppose to be learning a lesson that I couldn't quite grasp. It was disappointing because the characters were fantastic and the main idea was touching and sweet and did have a great message behind it. It just became to hard to concentrate on the constant internal analyzing of the main character.

Lyrical. Magical. Urban fairy tales wrapped up in a quest. The Lust of Lost Things is beautiful. You want to roll around in its language and hear the tales told again and again. Imagine New York – crazy, populous, noisy, gritty, hidden subway stations, Central Park, and the Met. Throw in a magic book that disappears, a boy that can find things, but not really speak, a 100-pound golden retriever that acts like a dog, is also a muse, curious characters that live on the sidelines of life who become “found” as the boy tries to find the lost book, a bakery where confections come alive, and stories . . . so many stories. I need to read it again I know that I'll enjoy it even more and discover new and wondrous things that I missed the first time.

If you enjoy magic, this may be the book for you! This book requires imagination and will keep you wondering what will happen. I loved that there was a dog in the book as well. Happy reading! :)

Overall, I had a very hard time staying focused on this story, even while loving the imagery author Keller uses to describe Walter's world.

I received the ARC of The Luster of Lost Things by the publisher through the First to Read program in exchange for my honest review. The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller has been widely compared to A Man Called Ove and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and while it does draw some similarities, I do think it stands firmly on its own especially with the use of magical realism. I really loved the way Keller described the setting and people of New York. She provides a vivid journey for the story's protagonist Walter Lavender and the reader. 4.5/5

Honestly, this is a total cover buy for me. I struggled at times thinking does this mean something or was I suppose to understand the hidden meaning? Overall I liked the book.

Overall this book was very magical, whimsical and sweet. However parts of it felt a bit disjointed and erratic to me and because of that, it didn't always hold my interest like I would like a book too. I was struggling a bit to finish it, but am happy that I was able to.

I really thought the premise of the story was amazing and loved the fact of the magic book enchanting the book store. The character of Walter seemed a little flat to me though. It made it hard that he could not communicate which made him seem to be way less than what he was. I liked that his companion was a dog and this made him seem more endearing. The characters thoughout the book each taught him something different, however I found myself becoming detached toward the end. I finished the book and am glad I did, but the book ended up being disjointed for me.

The description of this book was mouth-watering and enticing: a magical bakery and a boy who finds lost things. The lengthy beginning and the ending more than delivered on the promise offered by the description. For a lover of magical realism, such as myself, at least half of the book was pure delight. The middle of the book, though, began to lose me. I began to read more lightly and then skipped a bit here and there. Usually that technique causes me to find a place where I re-engage and then backtrack to find what I missed. Unfortunately, that didn't happen with this book. I just kept moving forward until the action picked up again with the plot line that really engaged me. I think I lost good tidbits along the way. But I wasn't curious enough to go back and find out what they were. I think this book is suitable for middle grade and YA readers. They may find the magical qualities fresher than I did and more pervasive in the tale. I received my copy from Penguin's First to Read Program.

I so wanted to like this book. The description captured my interest--for readers who liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Man Called Ove. Sadly, this book did not do it for me. Started out with great promise, BUT. The premise was original--a magical bakery. The characters quirky--Walter Jr. with his lack of speech and his knack for finding lost things. The people he ran across in his search for the missing Book [and some pages] Junker, Lan, Karl, Ruby [ who I especially loved], and many more--they were the heart of the book/search to me. Add in Lucy, Walter's mom, his long missing [dead?] father, Walter Sr., and the bakery's co-workers to the varied cast of characters. Also, the dog, Milton The writing was fine. All the ingredients. Save, flat. I slogged through most of it.

An enchanting tale of a young boy with a gift for finding lost things. When Walter embarks upon a journey to find the lost book that enables the magic in his mother's bakery he meets an interesting array of people all of whom bring something of value to Walter's life. The story is written in such a descriptive manner that the reader is able to envision what Walter is seeing. This is a story that illustrates what a difference kindness can make in the world.

A beautiful story narrated by a young man who listens and watches more than he talks. The bakery that his mother (who he never calls Mom or Mother, for some reason) runs is magical. He has a talent for finding lost things, for clients he contacts through lost posters -- his powers of observation allow him to feel the lost things calling to be found, or at least leaving traces. Then the book that makes his mother's bakery magical goes missing and he's on the mission of his life. It's an adventure, a mystery without a murder. The overall structure is a little predictable, and I got the feeling that even the author thought so since she squeezed in a jarring and unnecessary plot twist at the end which just made the story seem unnaturally prolonged. But the predictable structure did not diminish my enjoyment of the journey, of the details, of the quirky characters introduced at every turn, of the exploration of all the searching for lost things that we all do. I got a free copy to review from First to Read.

This is a beautiful story. I don't often feel that way when finishing a book, but this one has special meaning for me. This is the story of Walter Lavender, Jr., a 13-year old boy who has never met his namesake because he lost his father before he was born. His world is decidedly small, despite living in New York City, because he has a speech problem. He knows what he wants to say but struggles to say the words aloud. The more he becomes frustrated, the more his words sound like gibberish. He's teased at school and has retreated to his insular world with his awesome dog and attentive mother and for the most part doesn't try to speak much. Fortunately, we see the story from his point of view through his thoughts, and Walter's world is a beautiful place. This book speaks to me because of Walter's inability to articulate his thoughts. My father suffered from Primary Progressive Aphasia and he slowly lost the ability to speak and understand language. My heart is still broken from watching the decline in my father's ability to communicate. When he was first diagnosed, his challenge was exactly like Walter in the story. He knew what he wanted to say but struggled to form the words in a way others could understand. Eventually his world became smaller as he could no longer communicate with people to any form of satisfaction for him. So, he stopped trying and became closer to his loyal dog, Pete. That is Pete in my profile picture. They understood each other in a way that only a speech-impaired man and the dog who loves him can understand. So, reading about Walter, Jr. recognizing and rejecting the limitations of his speech did my heart good. He fought for a better life in a way my dad felt too tired and set in his ways to endure. I was rooting for him all the way.

Totally loved this book and the beautifully written story of Walter as he tries to find his way while searching for lost items. I loved it so much I want to read it again and find things I may have missed. I just pre-ordered a copy to own!

REVIEW OF THE LUSTER OF LOST THINGS Thirteen year old Walter knows what it’s like to lose things because his father has been lost to him for his entire life, having disappeared while co-piloting an airplane prior to Walter’s birth. The boy has a speech disorder but is a keen observer and has become well known for his ability to find things others have lost. On the surface, this is a story about finding things. At a deeper level it is about perseverance, on Walter’s determination to find The Book, a magical lost book that had brought his mother’s bakery (and the baked goods she created) to life. Because the book is gone, the customers have dwindled, and his mother may lose the bakery. In an “Alice in Wonderland” fashion, Walter meets several interesting characters on his journey to locate pages of The Book and learns of the ways in which these people have persisted to make their lives meaningful. The Luster of Lost Things is filled with wondrous descriptions allowing the reader to experience the myriad journeys Walter undertakes, the people he meets, and the experiences he has as he valiantly searches for The Book. As but one example, I loop my lunch box around my neck and start running past restless trees shaking off the summer heat, hurdling over a cat, darting between honking cabs, my right toe starting to wiggle a hole into my high-top. Cool air lifts the back of my jacket and my lunch box thumps against my chest and I fly up Sixth Avenue toward the corner in time to see the bus nudging its way into the flow of traffic. I put on a bust of speed, but the light turns green and the bus emits a feeble roar. Even though this book is of a genre I don’t normally read, I found it to be both engaging and enjoyable. Although primarily written for adults, it is appropriate for children of all ages.

This was one of those difficult to put down books. The story of a boy named Walter, a boy without a voice, a boy without a father, a boy who searches and finds much more than that for which he seeks. A very good read.

The Luster of Lost Things is Keller’s debut novel, and it’s one she should be proud of. Described as reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night and A Man Called Ove, The Luster of Lost Things describes a boy who finds himself through finding lost objects. It’s a nostalgic and unpolluted story, showing us a boy’s pure perspective of the world around him. Walter Lavender Jr. is named for his father, a man who disappeared before he was born. Considering this, it’s only natural that Walter turned to finding lost things for people. Walter believed that in searching for one thing, you often found something else along the way. The hope was if he searched for other people’s things enough, eventually he’d find a clue about his father. Despite this very complex way of thinking – Walter can’t actually tell you most of this himself. You see, even at the age of twelve he has trouble talking, and has to rehearse and practice specific sayings, just to get by in his day to day life. Walter’s search for lost things is both charming and endearing. Yes, Walter is helping people out of the goodness of his heart, but he also truly believes that by helping people, he can help himself. Some may perceive this as selfish, but I disagree. Given what we’re shown of Walter, it’s clear he’s driven to help these people, beyond any selfish reasoning. Ironically, a good chunk of book is spent with Walter searching for something his family lost (or had stolen, it gets complicated quickly), the book. The book is a magical book full of drawings, and it is vital for the bakery shop to keep running. Literally – without the book the store has no magic. No magic means no customers, and no customers means no store (it doesn’t help that the new landlord appears to be completely heatless). Walter’s journey for the lost book forces him to meet with and actually talk to many strangers; most of them being worse off than him, and very much in need of a little bit of help. He meets people who are forced to collect cans for change, homeless people, people who live in tunnels, a man who collects abandoned items, a woman desperate to connect with her nephew, a man frayed from the loss of his wife, a girl in need of a friend. They all need Walter’s help to heal, and in turn they all help Walter find a piece of himself. I’ve always been a big fan of introspective characters, and Walter Lavender Jr. is probably one of the more pensive ones I’ve seen in a while. Adding his age to the mix just makes it even more impressive, in my mind. His thought journal is full of beautiful and poignant observations and was a perfect touch on the author’s part. I actually don’t read many books like this – as I rarely get in the mood for them (if not done right I find myself feeling more depressed than inspired), but in this case I’m happy I decided to give it a try. If you’re looking for a nostalgic read then this is the book for you.

This book was a bit odd to me. I loved the overall story. I was confused by the magical dessert shop. Was it metaphor? Was it real? Was magic a part of the world? It didn't seem to be, but no one was particularly amazed or surprised by the magic if it wasn't something that was possible. I would have enjoyed the book more if the magic wasn't real, but was metaphor or tied to the way the protagonist saw the world. It was just something that was beautiful imagery but did not (to me) seem to enhance the story. It confused me more than anything. Similarly, the way he found the trail of lost things was a nice technique and almost necessary for the way the story ended, but wasn't explained well. It almost fell into the category of something that the main character was so used to that they didn't find it strange and therefore didn't call attention to it. It didn't quite make that leap though, especially as most of his finding was done because he was so very observant and patient. I greatly enjoyed his journey. His exploration of the city and interactions with people he met were lovely. Honestly, if it had just been that without the majority of the magical aspects, I would have loved the story. As it is, it's a good book, but not something I would actively recommend or keep on my shelves.

The premise of this book, initially, made me worry it was going to get repetitive and boring. Never go with your first thoughts when diving into a new book -- lesson learned. Lessons learned throughout the book also as the young character learns what it means to never give up, always believe, be willing every day to keeping your eyes open for opportunities and, perhaps most importantly, having an open heart... Always. When this comes out it will be among those books that I encourage my high school stents to check out. The whimsy and vivid details used will most assuredly strike a cord with many of them. Throughly enjoyed this book.

This was a charming story about a boy named Walter Lavender, Jr., who grows up in New York City with his loving mother, who runs a magical bakery. Walter's father was a pilot who went missing before his son's birth, so Walter has a special affinity for lost things. Although he doesn't speak, he is an expert at helping strangers to find what they've lost. When the enchanted book that gives the bakery its magic goes missing and the store is in danger of closing, Walter and his loyal dog Milton go on a hero's quest to find it and save the day. Along the way he learns to conquer his fears, gain self-confidence, makes new friends, and literally finds his voice. He comes to terms with his father's loss and realizes that he needs to engage with the world and risk being hurt in order to have a fuller life. Sometimes 13 year old Walter's observations were a bit too precocious and his journey a little too full of Life Lessons. But on the whole, Walter and his story are very likeable. Definitely a feel-good story for people of all ages!

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A sweet, lyrical written story about Walter a boy whose difficulty finding his voice leads him to finding lost items. Walter has been looking out for his lost father since his plane disappeared starting his affinity toward lost things. Magical elements surround Walter centering in his Mom's patisserie until their special book is stolen and the shop is imperiled. Walter and Milton his dog meet and help people find what they need and make friends while looking for the book to save the shop. Their trip was entertaining leaning toward fantastic at times. Walter's notebook observations were endearing. Nice growing up story imbued with touches of magic.

 


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