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A Novel

  • reading group guide
On a cold January morning Susan leaves her husband alone for a few minutes and returns to find him gone. Suffering from dementia, no longer able to dress or feed or wash himself, he has wandered alone into a frigid landscape with no sense of home or direction. Lost…

Over the course of one weekend, 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. In Jeff’s care is Corey, a mute eleven-year-old boy who has been abandoned by his family after accidentally setting a tragic fire. As the temperature drops and the search and rescue effort threatens to become one of search and recovery, they each confront haunting memories and difficult choices that will have an unexpected impact on their collective future...

From the intersection of these three lives emerges an arresting portrait of the shifting terrain of marriage and the devastating effects of physical and psychological damage. Written in spare, beautiful prose, Lost explores the lengths we will go to take care of someone, and the ways in which responsibility, love, and sorrow can bind people together.
Choose a format:
  • Scribner | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439171677 | 
  • March 2010
List Price $19.99

Read an Excerpt


SHE WAKES TO HER OWN SHOUT. RIGHT THERE OUT IN THE open like a character in a book. “Christopher?”

His side of the bed is empty, the covers pushed back in a tangled wave, and suddenly Susan is aware of the sounds coming from the closet, thuds of shoes being kicked, jangling of empty hangers, muffled agony.

In an instant she has pushed aside her own covers, touched her bare feet to the soft carpet. The closet is a small room of its own with a door that folds back on itself like a fan.

“Christopher! Hold on. I’m here,” she says as she fumbles with the tiny knobs, the flimsy... see more


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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Lost by Alice Lichtenstein includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


The search for a missing man suffering from Alzheimer’s brings together three strangers in a small town: Susan, the man’s wife and sole caretaker; Jeff, a search and rescue expert; and Corey, a young boy abandoned by his family for accidentally setting a deadly fire. This intensely emotional story explores how far the bonds of blood, friendship and love can be stretched. With eloquent, spare prose, Alice Lichtenstein paints a compelling portrait of the ways people become lost and found again.

Questions for Discussion

1. In the opening scene, Corey discovers Christopher’s body in the woods. As readers we learn that a man has been found – dead – even before we know how or why he became lost. Why do you think the author decided to begin the novel this way? How did it affect the way you read the rest of the story?
2. How did you react to the scene at the end of the first chapter? Was Susan a willing or unwilling participant? Do you agree with the way she describes what has happened: tha see more

About the Author

Author Revealed

Q. how did you come to write Lost?

A. for years I was haunted by a local incident: a young boy set a fire in his house that killed his brother and left his family homeless. The fire was ruled accidental, but I wondered about the forces that were set in motion before and after this devastating event. One afternoon, a poet friend and I were having tea and setting up writing experiments for each other. She told me about an assignment she'd had in an art class to create a multi-media artwork responding to the prompt, "Day of..." After some musing, she said, "how about Day of Fire?" The years of thinking about this boy and his tragic fire burst through my pen and the novel was born.

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