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Lost and Wanted
Cover of Lost and Wanted
Lost and Wanted
A novel
Borrow Borrow
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.
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.
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Excerpts-
  • From the cover Excerpted from Lost and Wanted:

    1.


    In the first few months after Charlie died, I began hearing from her much more frequently. This was even more surprising than it might have been, since Charlie wasn't a good correspondent even when she was alive.

    I should say right away that I don't believe in ghosts—although I've learned that forty-five percent of Americans do—at least not in the sense of the glaucous beings who appear on staircases, in aban­doned farmyards, or on the film or digital records of events that absolutely did not include, say, a brown dog in the lower left-hand corner, or a man standing behind the altar in a black hood.

    Charlie died in Los Angeles, on a Tuesday night in June. I was in Boston and I didn't know; we hadn't spoken for over a year. People talk about a cold wind, or a pain in the chest, but I didn't feel anything like that. On Wednesday at about noon, my phone rang. Or rather, I happened to be looking through my bag for my wal­let, and I saw that the screen was illuminated: "Charlie." I grabbed the phone and answered before I could think any of the obvious things, such as why pick up right away or it's been more than a year or what are you to her anymore?

    "Charlie?"

    I heard a shuffling, something lightweight falling to the floor. Empty boxes, maybe.

    I said her name again, and then I lost the call. I called her back, but no one picked up. I felt foolish and unaccountably disap­pointed. I vowed that if she tried again, I wouldn't pick up. I would wait a few days before deciding whether I even wanted to call her back.


    2.

    I became Frederick B. Blumhagen Professor of Theoretical Physics at MIT in 2004, just after I turned thirty-three. This was the year after Neel Jonnal and I published our AdS/CFT model for quark gluon plasma as a dual black hole in curved five-dimensional space­time. I was subsequently invited to every physics conference and festival from Aspen to Tokyo to Switzerland, and accepted as many as I could get away with, at least of those that didn't ask me to speak on the subject of Women in Science.

    Five years after Neel and I gave birth to our eponymous model, the Clapp-Jonnal, I gave birth to Jack. I'm what is called a single mother "by choice," which means that I decided to give up on the fantasy that a man with the intelligence and ambition required to interest me in the long term would arrive at the perfect reproduc­tive moment, and be willing to give up a certain measure of profes­sional success to contribute to the manual labor involved in raising a child. (Charlie's solution—finding a man who seemed to have no ambition other than to be with her and raise the child—struck me as workable, if you could be attracted to a person like that.)

    Before Jack was born, I published two books for a general audi­ence on topics related to my research: the first a collection of essays on quantum cosmology, and the second, more successfully, on black holes. Both books were published internationally, and Into the Singularity even spent a brief moment on several best-seller lists. It sometimes amuses me that the people who seem to envy the small amount of name recognition I've accrued—because I have the ability and the inclination to put what we do into words the nonscientist can understand—are the same people who dismiss that work for its lack of seriousness. I would much rather talk to laypeople who read the books and get excited about primordial black holes or the potential of the Large Hadron Collider than to Vincenzo Goia down the hall, and so I...
About the Author-
  • NELL FREUDENBERGER is the author of the novels The Newlyweds and The Dissident, and the story collection Lucky Girls, winner of the PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and a Cullman Fellowship from the New York Public Library, she lives in Brooklyn with her family.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 11, 2019
    Freudenberger (The Newlyweds) explores the convergence of scientific rationality and spirituality in this stunning portrayal of grief. Helen is an MIT physics professor of some renown—known as much for her accessible science writing as for the theoretical model that bears her name. A single mother by choice, Helen, now in her mid-40s, is shaken to learn of the death of her best friend, Charlie Boyce, a successful screenwriter whom she met when they were undergraduates at Harvard. As Helen grapples with her own regrets about having fallen out of touch with Charlie, she and her seven-year-old son, Jack, become increasingly close with Charlie’s husband and five-year-old daughter, Simmi. The children are desperate for a supernatural connection to the deceased; Helen is skeptical—except for the fact that she continues receiving eerily knowing text messages from Charlie’s cell phone. Like her narrator, Freudenberger resists the impulse to use science solely as metaphor; indeed, readers will learn a great deal about the LIGO project and its Nobel Prize–winning work with cosmic gravitational waves. The integration of ideas from physics sparks in the reader new ways of thinking about the nature of time and existence as well as, on a less cosmic scale, about human relationships. Helen’s journey through grief and understanding illustrates how one person can represent many things to different people at different times, and her story 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.

  • AudioFile Magazine Ann Marie Lee's emotional narration allows listeners to engage further with this audiobook's characters. The story's principals have connections to each other through shared experiences, bereavement, memories, and their concepts of time. After Helen Clapp, a pragmatic MIT physicist, learns of her college roommate Charlie Boyce's death, she begins receiving mysterious text messages and emails on her phone. In spite of their disparate lives on opposite coasts, the bond between them deepens in death as the past becomes ever present. Lee varies her tone and pitch as she reveals the deep emotions experienced by people integral to Charlie's life. Helen's first-person perspective of her professional trajectory and family life with her young son provides additional intimacy with listeners. J.R.T. � AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine
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Lost and Wanted
Lost and Wanted
A novel
Nell Freudenberger
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