Lost and Wanted

Lost and Wanted

by Nell Freudenberger

Overview: 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.

Deanna Boe (11/22/19): I am not really sure what to say about this book other then if you are not into physics donít bother. It is very technical and has lots of science. Her writing is good and would be curious about her other novels if they are as detailed about some subject area that the average person might not necessarily know. Physics is not my forte and something tells me that is probably true concerning your average reader who is simply reading for enjoyment.

The storyline is based around the friendship of two young ladies who were room-mates in college. Charlotte is African-American and from an extremely wealthy family whereas Helen is white whose family is average. They are students at Harvard. I do find it interesting that so many storylines in novels that are based on college students they are almost always attending Harvard, sometimes Yale, but never just plain old University of Georgia or Iowa! Guess the author doesnít feel those universities are interesting enough? I presume the author can make the dorms, library, and student cafeteria sound so much more exotic in Harvard? Who knows? I do know I have never met anyone who attended Harvard.

You find out almost immediately that the African-American room-mate has died at a young age of Lupus. Charlotte has been living in California where she had been a screen writer for various studios; she leaves behind a husband and young daughter. Helen is devastated, especially since they had grown apart these last few years. She is especially shocked to learn she had taken her own life instead of dying of Lupus. The funeral is held back in Boston and now her husband and daughter enter the scene. In the meantime you learn that Helen had a son by way of artificial insemination who is one year younger then Charlotteís daughter. The storyline goes back and forth from when they were young, who they were dating in college, and their studies. Plus lots of information about physics, and I do mean a lot! That is because Helen had developed a breakthrough on five-dimensional space-time which landed her a job at the prestigious university of MIT. Helenís old boyfriend, Neel, who is originally from India, enters the scene with some exotic scientific break thru concerning black holes.

As I have stated the physics aspect gets quite deep and complicated. Throughout the storyline you are led to believe that Charlotte is trying to reach them through her cell phone that disappeared after her death. In short, is there life after death for these very scientific people to think about? I feel the storyline just continued on and on and then simply ended without any satisfactory conclusion. I donít think the author knew what to do. Personally I find this novel hard to recommend and yet I must have read some rave reviews somewhere concerning it to have reserved it at the library.
Rating: **

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