On a cold January morning Susan leaves her husband alone for a few minutes and returns to find him gone. He has Alzheimer's-he no longer knows how to dress or feed or wash himself-and he has wandered alone into a frigid landscape with no sense of home or direction. Lost.
The massive search for her husband brings Susan together with Jeff, a search and rescue expert and social worker preoccupied with his young wife's betrayal. Hovering on the periphery is Corey, a young boy rendered mute and abandoned by his family after setting a fire in which his older brother was killed. His fate has been placed in Jeff's hands. As Susan and Jeff endure an intolerable wait for news, and Corey waits to learn his future, the search becomes an internal one too. Susan silently considers the diagnosis that transformed her marriage into a caretaking relationship, the abrupt decision to leave her career and home for an isolated house in upstate New York, those few stolen moments alone. And Jeff confronts his devotion to a woman for whom he was never enough, and the urgent need to find a home for Corey.
Written in spare, beautiful prose, Lostexplores the ways the simplest, briefest of moments--a fleeting instinct, a turned back, a split-second decision--can have a profound impact on our lives and the way responsibility, love, and sorrow can bind us together.
Three people are brought together during a search and rescue mission on a wintry weekend in the taut second novel from Lichtenstein (The Genius of the World). Corey is a boy who accidentally set a fire that killed his brother, resulting in his losing the ability to speak and rejection from his family. Susan is the middle-aged wife of an older man, Christopher, whose dementia has sent him into rapid deterioration. Leaving him asleep and alone in their house for a few minutes, she returns to find he's walked out into the snowy woods near their rural town. Jeff, a Vietnam vet with a cheating wife, is on the search and rescue team searching for Christopher and also, as a social worker, has Corey within his purview. During the long wait for leads on Christopher, the trio meditate on their histories of love and betrayal, death and violence, while the temperature drops and hope fades, though Jeff remains a presence at Susan's side through the horrible shock that awaits them. The unending toll of bereavement and trauma contrasts with a glimmer of hope brought by the characters' newfound connection in this stark and moving novel.