Lost and Wanted (Freudenberger) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
Beautiful, startling, affecting.… Freudenberger joins [an] august tradition of yoking poetry to cutting-edge science. She navigates complicated concepts from physics with admirable clarity. This is a novel about female friendship begun in America in the 1990s, when women didn’t talk about sexual harassment and friends didn’t talk about race; when women (and especially women of color) were trying to build careers and no one was acknowledging how much harder it would be for them than for white men. Under such strain, the book seems to say, it’s incredible that women sustain any friendships at all. And yet in this novel, even the distance between Charlie and Helen is moving: the space that opens between them reverberates with what might have been. I was moved by intimacies near and far, real and imagined, lost and found..
Louisa Hall - New York Times Book Review

Dazzling, ingenious… a gorgeous literary novel about loss and human limitations. Over the months that follow her friend Charlie’s death Helen, a distinguished professor of physics at MIT, grapples with grief, midlife regrets and the disruptive possibility of life after death. Freudenberger dramatizes, through Helen, both the dawning awareness that life doesn’t always allow for second chances and the great midlife consolation prize: a greater appreciation for those chances—and people—one has been given. Helen’s thoughts meander from a wry social observation to a digression on physics to a heart-rending epiphany [and] the novel ends with its own version of a "big bang." Freudenberger has a penetrating imagination.
Maureen Corrigan - Washington Post

Insightful… a search for a ripple in space-time becomes a symbol of how lives are changed by forces we cannot see. Freudenberger relates the momentous  discovery by physicists of a gravitational wave. What other wonders might we be missing simply because, for the moment, we lack the instruments to detect them? The phenomenon that troubles Lost and Wanted is life after death—an age-old concern viewed here [through] the narrator, an MIT physicist. This novel is smart about the ways that parents try to explain mortality to children—kids are usually patronized in works of fiction, but in this book they’re on equal footing with the adults, who have no clearer understanding of what awaits us after death than they do.
Wall Street Journal

Absorbing, intelligent, touching… a bittersweet love story about a lost friend, a missed romance, and an all-consuming career. Freudenberger deploys physics as a catalyst for new perspectives on time and our trajectories through it, rather than just metaphorical ballast. She balances the science with tender, convincing portraits of two kids. Enriched by multi-level discussions about the spacetime continuum, whether Einstein believed in God, uncertainty, gravity, and, most notably, the force we exert on each other, Lost and Wanted is a moving story about down-to-earth issues: an outstanding achievement.

What do physics and grief have in common? How can a scientist reckon with the inexplicable, for instance, the appearance of a ghost? These are but two of the big questions that power this intellectually rich and soulfully deep novel by one of our most talented fiction writers.
Oprah Magazine

What happens to our souls when we die? Does our consciousness leave a trace on earth? Freudenberger explores the complicated nature of friendship—especially the relationships that we form in youth, as we are trying to discover ourselves—and delves into the existential questions that plague physicists and laypeople alike.… Lost and Wanted is prescient [in] connecting scientific and metaphysical faith in things that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Freudenberger’s novel is set in a Boston that calls to mind Henry James country, a bastion of correctness and rational thought. It is all the more jarring, then, when Helen Clapp, a single mother and tenured chair in MIT’s physics department, receives a phone call and then text messages from the afterlife. Helen doesn’t write off the transmissions as a hoax—she sits tight and collects data, all the while conducting a meticulous reexamination of her long and bewildering relationship with her estranged best friend, Charlie, who moved to Hollywood after college and died from an autoimmune disease. The book takes up weighty themes such as grief and sexism in the worlds of academia and entertainment, peppering the narration with evocative asides on black holes and quantum entanglement.… The prose is enticing [on] friendship, that most unstable and mysterious of connections.

An affecting female friendship tale—Charlie, glamorous and alluring, and Helen, cerebral and self-assured—that takes a turn for the otherworldly.
Entertainment Weekly

A truly lovely story about friendship.

(Starred review) Freudenberger explores the convergence of scientific rationality and spirituality in this stunning portrayal of grief.… Helen’s journey… is about grief not only at the loss of her friend but also at the demise of countless possible futures. This is a beautiful and moving novel.
Publishers Weekly

(Starred review) [M]agnificent… a warm and insightful look into human relationships and the mysteries of time. Refreshingly, the… [scientific] concepts that Freudenberger describes are integral to the plot. And the story takes unexpected turns on its way to a heartbreaking conclusion.

(Starred review) Compelling, seductively poetic; deeply involving, suspenseful and psychologically lush.… Freudenberger is spellbinding in her imaginative use of particle physics as a mirror of human entanglement and uncertainty.

(Starred review) Brimming with wit and intelligence and devoted to things that matter: life, love, death, and the mysteries of the cosmos. Nell Freudenberger is good at explaining physics, but her real genius is in the depiction of relationships.
Kirkus Reviews

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