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How to Be Lost [Hardcover]

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Item description for How to Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward...

Joseph and Isabelle Winters seem to have it all: a grand home in Holt, New York, a trio of radiant daughters, and a sense that they are safe in their affluent corner of America. But when five-year-old Ellie disappears, the fault lines within the family are exposed: Joseph, once a successful businessman, succumbs to his demons; Isabelle retreats into memories of her debutante days in Savannah; and Ellie s bereft sisters grow apart Madeline reluctantly stays home, while Caroline runs away.

Fifteen years later, Caroline, now a New Orleans cocktail waitress, sees a photograph of a woman in a magazine. Convinced that it is Ellie all grown up, Caroline embarks on a search for her missing sister. Armed with copies of the photo, an amateur detective guide, and a cooler of Dixie beer, Caroline travels through the New Mexico desert, the mountains of Colorado, and the smoky underworld of Montana, determined to salvage her broken family.

Outline Review
Sometimes an off-key phrase in a soulful song can wrench at the heart, nay, the soul and send one off into that same far-away place that a great book can take you to. Amanda Eyre Ward's second novel, How to Be Lost, provides for the reader with a finely-tuned ear, a nicely wrought, syncopated, octave-changing story. Featuring a hard-living, almost down-on-her-luck narrator, How to Be Lost isn't lost at all when it comes to telling a literary mystery wrapped in the arms of a strong woman's tale. Ward's story bounces between New Orleans and New York, taking her protagonist, Caroline, into steely encounters with her somewhat-estranged family, especially her older sister and mother, as they continue, many years after the fact, to deal with the wrenching effects of the unresolved disappearance of Ellie, the youngest of the Winters family. Readers may find uncanny similarities between the eerie tone and dark nature of Deborah Schupack's The Boy on the Bus but won't be disappointed at all with the story that unfolds and the clever, darkly humorous nature of Ward's pitch-perfect voice. --E. Brooke Gilbert

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Item Specifications...

Pages   292
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.2" Width: 5.6" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 8, 2004
Publisher   MacAdam/Cage
ISBN  1931561729  
ISBN13  9781931561723  

Availability  0 units.

More About Amanda Eyre Ward

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Amanda Eyre Ward was born in New York City and graduated from Williams College and the University of Montana. Her short stories have been published in Story Quarterly, Mississippi Review, New Delta Review,, and Austin Chronicle. Ward is a regular contributor to the Austin Chronicle. This is her first novel.

Amanda Eyre Ward currently resides in Caraumet. Amanda Eyre Ward was born in 1972.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
3Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > Thrillers > Psychological & Suspense

Reviews - What do customers think about How to Be Lost?

Had potential but fell way short of my expectations!  Sep 9, 2008
It's not that this book was bad. It had a good plot idea and it was a fast read (I read it in 2 days). However, it left a lot of questions unanswered and the dialogue in it wasn't all that great. Conversations between characters were cut short. The sentences were broken or seperated by commas or periods and confused me while I was trying to read, interrupting the flow of the story. In short, it was choppy. I felt like the author could have done a much better job than she did. I kept thinking, as I was reading it, that a high schooler could have written a better story. It was like I was reading an outline rather than an actual novel.

I want to know how Agnes Fowler got to where she was (and I'm not talking about what she's been doing but how she got to be with her dad). There's a huge gap between her being 5 and then 21. What happened in between those two ages? She alludes to the fact that her dad was overprotective but never goes into details. I also found her character extremely annoying. I wanted to skip over the chapters when it said "From the desk of Agnes Fowler" but didn't because I knew they had something important in them. She was more like a high schooler than she was an adult. I really can't express how much I disliked her. And who talks to people the way she does in her letters without meeting them first? Especially when she answered the question about her perfect first date. I almost gave up on the book after reading that part.

What happened between Ron and Caroline? It never states why they don't like each other, just that they never got along. And I really wanted to know what happened to Isabelle (not the mother).

The ending just outright sucked, in my opinion....unless there's a sequal explaining what happened to all the characters. I honestly wouldn't want to read a sequal to this book, though. The author had too much going on in this first one that I think a sequal would annoy me even more. It was so poorly written and the different plots so scatterbrained that I couldn't wait to finish it so I could move on to another book. A friend of mine said that she didn't care for this story either but really loves Amanda Eyre Ward's other novels so I will give her one more shot.
I must have missed something...  Aug 25, 2008
I kept trying to be interested in the characters but simply could not bring myself to really care what happened to any of them. I know so many readers have rated this novel as inspiring, suspenseful, exciting,..all those adjectives that intrigue readers...but..sorry ..none of those applied to my idea ....I actually gave up about 3/4 of the way through which is unheard of for me.
FANTASTIC READ!  Jul 28, 2008
I started this book about a year ago and could not get into it. This weekend with nothing to do and a bit of insomnia I picked it back up right where I left off, about 20 pages into it. I could not put it down and I am still thinking about it. At first the letters from Agnes were annoying and I almost skipped right over them. I kept thinking that Agnes was some old lady who was an Aunt of Caroline's ( I don't know why). But as I read more and more, I realized that she sounded ( and actually was) very young and somewhat sheltered. I agree with some of the reviews that the last page left a lot to be desired. I wish that the author would've finished it with the sisters speaking, something, anything! All in all a fantastic read though, I am going to order her first book because I was so impressed with this one. Definitely recommend.
Different, but engaging  Jul 24, 2008
This book was unlike anything I'd read in the past. It realistically depicted family and sibling relationships, and the narrator, Caroline Winters, was at once deeply troubled and hysterical. I was engaged in this book from cover to cover, mostly because I really wanted to know what happened, not so much because the writing was anything extremely memorable. But the story was engrossing and the ending did not disappoint. A quick summer read.
...then found!  Jun 1, 2008
If you were troubled by "At the deep end of the ocean," then "How to be lost" will make you smile. I won't say how. Yes, I will. Take two pencils, one in each hand with a large sheet of paper under them. Set them on the paper and move them around, especially the one in your right hand--up and down and around. The left hand just kind of stays there until you arc it to the left then sweep all the way across and let it meet with the pencil in your right hand. There, that's it--that's how the two main characters meet at the end. Does that make sense? Not a lot? OK, let's start over.

When she was fifteen, Caroline Winters lost her five year old sister. She disappeared and is never found. The already dysfunctional family falls completely apart. Fifteen years later, Caroline is still lost. Yes, Caroline. Everyone becomes stuck in the past when Ellie disappears. Mother Isabella, and middle sister Madeline. Father drinks himself to death.

Then one day Isabella shows Caroline a picture in a magazine. It's Ellie, they both are convinced. Caroline leaves her home in New Orleans and heads to Montana to find her. That's where the photograph is taken.

Meanwhile, Amanda Eyre Ward, the author, uses a literary technique similar to something out of Faulkner by switching narrative voice to Agnes Fowler, a librarian in Montana, who finds a match in Johan from, a singles service. She begins a correspondence with him to which the reader is privy.

Back and forth from Agnes to Caroline, then sometimes Ms Ward tells the story of Isabella. Faulkner kept up with this switching back and forth by keeping a paper chart tacked to his wall. Ward uses index cards with plot snippets and lays them out as it pleases her.

"How to get lost" is a wonderful book to find yourself with on vacation --it is the perfect vacation read. One concept Ward uses in this story is having the reader part of the story. How so? The intertwining of the three stories demands the reader's participation. Ask: Who is Agnes and why is she part of this story? Why does Ellie disappear? And the ending! What does the ending mean? Now there's a real demand of your imagination.

Are you up for it? Yes, you will be glad. It's an excellent story!

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