Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger

Lost and Wanted

Nell Freudenberger

Suspenseful, perceptive, and deeply affecting, Lost and Wanted is a story of friends and lovers, lost and found, at the most defining moments of their lives.

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New York Times Best Seller

"Freudenberger's brilliant and compassionate novel takes on the big questions of the universe and proves, again, that she is one of America's greatest writers." --Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less

An emotionally engaging, suspenseful new novel from the best-selling author, told in the voice of a renowned physicist: an exploration of female friendship, romantic love, and parenthood--bonds that show their power in surprising ways.


Helen Clapp's breakthrough work on five-dimensional spacetime landed her a tenured professorship at MIT; her popular books explain physics in plain terms. Helen disdains notions of the supernatural in favor of rational thought and proven ideas. So it's perhaps especially vexing for her when, on an otherwise unremarkable Wednesday in June, she gets a phone call from a friend who has just died.

That friend was Charlotte Boyce, Helen's roommate at Harvard. The two women had once confided in each other about everything--in college, the unwanted advances Charlie received from a star literature professor; after graduation, Helen's struggles as a young woman in science, Charlie's as a black screenwriter in Hollywood, their shared challenges as parents. But as the years passed, Charlie became more elusive, and her calls came less and less often. And now she's permanently, tragically gone.

As Helen is drawn back into Charlie's orbit, and also into the web of feelings she once had for Neel Jonnal--a former college classmate now an acclaimed physicist on the verge of a Nobel Prize-winning discovery--she is forced to question the laws of the universe that had always steadied her mind and heart.

Suspenseful, perceptive, deeply affecting, Lost and Wanted is a story of friends and lovers, lost and found, at the most defining moments of their lives.


Advance Galley Reviews

Time ran out before I got a chance to read this novel.

Slow paced but smart. A lot of science thrown in as the protagonist is a physicist and she ponders her work or that of others and somehow it ends up relating to the place in her life she finds herself in. Lost love, lost friends, lost chances are all mixed up in science and possibly the hope that there is more to life than we know or can see, currently.

I was surprised by how monotone this book felt. Events that I thought should have caused bigger reactions, plot lines that I felt could have gone farther and deeper, and characters that I wanted to learn more about were somewhat glossed over. And while I am impressed with what I expect was reasonably accurate scientific information, it did not excite me the way the math in a certain blockbuster sci-fi book recently did. I don't even think it was intended to. Instead it added to the leveling out of the action. I wanted more!

This book was SLOW, drawn out and seemingly didn't have a plot. There is way too much science in the book to the point where I started skimming over large chunks because I don't have a PhD in physics and you need one to understand this (ironically, though, the main character Helen supposedly writes books to make physics understandable for the average person). There was no plot, and trying to get through over 300 plot-less pages is just brutal. The character interactions were interesting, but they didn't seem to go anywhere. The book literally just ended, to the point where I was swiping to figure out what I missed. After going on and on, the end was so abrupt it was pretty much in the middle of a scene. I thought this book would be interesting, and I don't mind a little science tossed in, but this seemed like an author who had a great deal of physics knowledge and tried to write a fiction book with it. Overall, it didn't work for me.

Lost and Wanted was very well-written, and while it did include a lot of technical and scientific information, I didn't find it to be too confusing. However, it was pretty slow-moving and I lost interest partway through.

This was a beautifully written book about grief and friendship. It is the story of a physicist, Helen, whose best friend from college, Charlie, dies after battling lupus for years. Her death comes as a surprise to Helen since they haven't kept in regular contact. It is a great story of a relationships between parents and children, friends and family. There is some science but I didn't find it overwhelming or too confusing. I liked how the author explored the Helen's feelings about Charlie's death and combined that with stories of their friendship as students.

I am not a Science person by any means, and had really low expectations for this book, and I was blown away by it. While it was indeed very Science-y, and had a lot of terms and concepts that I will likely never understand, once you get passed that, this novel was beyond exceptional. This book had such a melancholy theme flowing throughout, yet strangely, was not depressing — you wanted to keep reading. I really enjoyed the tie-in with modern societal movements: "me too," racial equality issues, and employing women in what has been traditionally "male" careers. The author successfully managed to tie-in all of these issues without it seeming forced or contrived or overly political. Everything about this novel was phenomenal in my opinion. The main character, Helen, as well as all of the secondary characters, were not only relatable but enjoyable to read about. The fact that the author is not trained in Physics was mind-boggling to me and showed what an incredible author and researcher she is. She made a field of study that is completely uninteresting to me sound fascinating. While she did address some of the issues within this field, namely legitimatizing funding, she did not in any way devalue the need for the continuation of Science and Physics in particular. It is definitely not a light read, but there are only so many "beach reads" one can read, especially this time of year, before needing something more cerebral, and this one is perfect. Highly recommend.

This is definitely a novel for people who prefer character-driven stories. The story feels very intimate because there are such small, meaningful details sprinkled throughout about Helen, Charlie, and the other characters. It's like Helen is talking to you. She feels very real. The problem with this is that it leaves no real room for a plot. I can't tell you what Helen was working toward throughout the novel (with the small exception of her wanting to figure out how she's still getting messages from Charlie, but this covers such a small portion of the book). We experience events with her in both the past and present that paint a picture of her relationship with Charlie and her life in general, which I found interesting, but also a bit dull. At one point I got tired of all the physics. I was much more interested in the relationships. Overall, I enjoyed how intimately I got to know Helen, but so little happened sometimes it felt like I was reading her diary. I wanted more to happen. I received a review copy.

I am sorry to say I did not enjoy reading this book. It was too scientific to be entertaining. It felt like reading a textbook with a little storyline on the side. I really had to work at it to finish.

Sadly this was a DNF for me. The premise sounded so interesting but the writing style was more of reading a report than being part of a story. And even some 40 pages in there wasn’t much of this contact with Charlie that the reader is expecting. The science was also a bit boring. Disappointing.

Freudenburger knows how to hook the reader with an intriguing first line. This thoughtful, intelligent examination of relationships, belief, and race/gender stands out from other books of the same genre. Who among us, especially women perhaps, hasn't regretted or had doubts over the way a friendship played out? Perhaps we could have been more available, a better listener, a tougher tell-it-like-it-is sort of confidante. Helen is plagued by these thoughts after the death of Charlie, and must reconcile, as a scientist who doesn't believe in ghosts, the mystery of how her friend is contacting her from beyond the grave. Though my physics knowledge is limited, and I only have a certain level of science knowledge as a Ph.D. in a so-called "soft science," the way Helen was characterized as a physics professor is convincing and seems to be well-researched. The believability of her character, the way she views/interprets the world, and the weight of her expertise form a strong basis for the musings of the novel. I do suspect that a good many references went over my head, but I was still able to get the general gist and enjoy the story I was reading. I think I may have enjoyed the philosophizing, the nuggets of truth embedded within, more than the premise of the novel, which ties it all together.

First, get a degree from MIT in physics because otherwise you are not going to understand anything that is going on. I don’t like reading science, not that I don’t believe in it. I don’t like reading fantasy or the supernatural. Bingo, the perfect storm of a book. There is so much detailed science, you really do need a solid physics understanding. I didn’t identify with any of the characters although Simmi pulled my heartstrings. Helen is a hot mess, but not a particularly interesting one. Charlie is a huge unknown and she could have been far better developed. Why did she act the way she did, even given some pretty ugly situations and circumstances. And the lab scene with the kids is rushed and cluttered with people and things that aren’t relevant. It wasn’t a savvy or “wow” ending. It was disappointing. There is a story here, but the author’s need to delve deeply into physics mutes it considerably.

This book is a mix of science and fiction but it isn't science fiction. Helen is a physicist whose college best friend, Charlie, has just died. Charlie's phone is missing but Helen starts receiving messages from it. The story explores Helen's relationship with Charlie's husband and daughter, her college boyfriend, and her son who she conceived using a donor. There is a lot of interesting science in the book, as well as a compelling story of love, loss, and loneliness. I really enjoyed it.

By the end of this book I sort of felt like I was slogging my way through. There’s a lot of science, specifically physics. While I loved science in school, physics was, and remains, beyond me. The book seemed to just stop. What happened to everyone? What about the experiences Helen and Simmi had at the lab? I finished the book and was irritated. All that being said, the book was incredibly well written. Someone that enjoys physics will love this book. I am certain that my inability to enjoy the science in the book was a huge factor in my frustration with it.

I wanted to like this book more than I did. It just wasn't the right book at the right time for me. I think those with more of a scientific mind/interest might be more engaged. I think the scientific passages (which reminded me of my husband talking about cars, where eventually all I hear is 'blah, blah, blah') might have had a nice analogy to the relationship issues going on with the characters. Since I had such a hard time relating to and understanding the scientific references/explanations, it was hard for me to know. Without that connection, this was a story about a women, Helen, a really good physicist, who lost her college best friend (Charlie) with whom she had fallen out of touch. She does spend time with her friend's parents, widower, and daughter. She also reconnects professionally with a former boyfriend that attended college with Helen and Charlie. I found this to be slow-moving and I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters. I am sure it will be the right book for many, just not for me. Thanks to Penguin's First To Read program for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I had mixed feelings about this book. While it was well written, it felt unfinished. The departure of Terrence and Simmi, and Helen’s relationship with Neel seemed cut short. I felt both storylines could have continued on and delved deeper. The way it all ended, it almost felt pointless, that nothing was resolved and I was just reading someone’s very basic account of the last few years. There were also random superfluous paragraphs that added nothing to the story. Overall, not a bad read but it could hav been better.

This book was a bit of a struggle for me - not sure if it was the book or the mood I was in at the time of reading it. The story brings us to Helen, a single mother genius physicist, who has recently lost her best friend from college Charlie. There is a slight air of mystery when Helen begins to receive text messages from Charlie after she has passed away, but the majority of the book reflects on how Helen deals with the loss of someone she was very close to at a time in her life but has since drifted from. I felt like more could have been explored with respect to the mysteries of death entwined with science - but this just skimmed the surface and when it went into science - it really went there. That would be the portions of the book when I started to lose focus - it was quite technical and to be honest physics wasn’t my best subject for a reason. I do think the book was well written and I thought the ending was appropriate. ??????

I couldn’t put this down and couldn’t wait to find out what happened. Readers who enjoy Richard Powers and/or loved The Doubter’s Almanac will enjoy this.

 


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