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The Lost Child: A Mother's Story Hardcover – September 1, 2009

3.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this difficult, unsettling memoir, English novelist (Sleepwalking) Myerson attempts a tricky bifurcated journey between two lives, past and present. Clearly, the author began with the intent of tracing the obscure life and work of a 19th-century artist, Mary Yelloly, who had once lived in Myerson's town of Suffolk and died of tuberculosis at age 21, in 1838. The author was given some of Yelloly's watercolors and proceeded to research the extended family as well as uncover where Mary was buried in the nearby Woodton churchyard. However, another life crisis pressed to the forefront: that of her oldest son, who at 17 began to exhibit bizarrely aggressive behavior from smoking cannabis, driving his parents to despair and the painful decision to kick him out of their home. Myerson's memoir, while erecting the elaborate and frequently tedious genealogy of the Yelloly and Suckling clans, on the one hand, is utterly overrun and undermined by the stunning cruelty of the very real teenager (e.g., selling drugs to his little brother, ignoring the pregnancy of his girlfriend, punching his mother), on the other. The whole effect of Victorian portraits and letters, details of the cringing servility with which Myerson and her husband deal with their son and memories of the author's own teenage rupture with her father makes for a surreally touching textual kaleidoscope. (Sept.)
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The Lost Child is a cry for help and a plea for a clear acknowledgment of the toll this drug is taking on our children... [It] will appeal to readers of David Sheff's "Beautiful Boy"… These are books for all parents, no matter what shape they think their children are in. Indeed, these books are for anyone interested in public policy relating to drugs. Why would we choose not to see what's happening all around us? Books like these signal the beginning of awareness. And the beginning of hope that we can do right by our children.” ―New York Times Book Review

“While investigating the life of a Regency-era child artist, British novelist Myerson endures her own son's drug addiction... Though her heart breaks, she resolves to maintain her tough-love stance toward a beloved child, about whom she writes with motherly tenderness.” ―Kirkus

“Lures the reader into its intimate, dark heart … Every parent goes through small losses at each stage of a child's development, and yearns for what has gone. What Myerson evokes exquisitely is the built-in poignancy--which in her case is heightened by the rupture in her previously smooth relationship with this beloved oldest child.” ―Financial Times

“Anyone who reads it will struggle not to be profoundly moved.” ―Independent

“It is impossible not to empathize with the Myersons' parental plight … [The Lost Child] is an aching, empty-nest memoir: a mother mourning for her uncomplicated little children, now grown, whom she could care for, write about without comeback, love--and control.” ―Times

“On the page, Julie spells out her pain in prose that's so pure, so literal and so terribly engrossing it makes you weep.” ―Daily Mirror

“If losing [her son] felt like bereavement, writing about him was keeping him under her roof … [Myerson's] writing is never less than compelling with its lopped lyricism, like someone who has to keep catching their breath … She has tried to write honestly about a nightmarish situation and a subject that never seems to get the attention it deserves.” ―Observer

“It's a mark of almost superhuman doggedness that she managed to get some of this down on paper at all … Painfully honest.” ―Evening Standard

The Lost Child is devastating in its candor … A serious, writerly, self-critical account of what it means to feel that, despite love and hope and good intentions, you have failed as a parent, and that the child you bore (while still eerily, painfully familiar) is lost to you.” ―Daily Telegraph


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596917008
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596917002
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,009,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Perhaps a more apt title to this book might be: The Lost Mother and Father. When the author's child boxes her jaws, knocking her to the floor and perforating her eardrum (all while the dad/husband looks on!!), she and her husband respond by taking the whole family out for dinner together after they return from a visit to the emergency room. Huh?!

This book may be well written strictly from a technical standpoint, but it fails to offer any meaningful contribution what-so-ever. Just because someone can write about their dysfunctional family life, why do they insist upon it? Baffling. Frankly, there's more than enough of that in the world around us, so unless there is something new, helpful, meaningful, insightful, or of value to contribute, please, don't burden the world with more of it!!

This book offers nothing more than a chronicle of a sadly dysfunctional family, poor parenting, and a brat teenager who is abandoned by his father and enabled by his mother even though she claims to have kicked him out and cut him off financially in the name of tough love. It's like reality TV: freaks and dysfunction for the sake of entertainment and ratings, the more the better. I kept reading hoping it would get better, but no, it doesn't.
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Format: Hardcover
About: Myerson weaves her research about a young woman who lived in Regency England with the tale of her own son's drug addiction.

Pros: The parts about her son are great.

Cons: This should have been two separate books. One about the girl and one about her son.

Grade: C-
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Julie Myerson's new book has created quite a stir, both in England when it was published in Spring, 2009 and here in the US in August, 2009. She has been the subject of numerous columns in the UK, where she had been previously railed against for publishing stories about her family - male partner, two sons and one daughter - in an ongoing, anonymous blog in a London paper for a couple of years. She wrote about her family - sometimes in shocking detail of how difficult it was to live with three teenagers - and quit only when she was exposed as the author. She had denied to her children she was the author of the blog until exposed. So already there were mixed feelings about her new book, which is mostly about her children, in particular her oldest, a son she refers to only as "the boy". "The boy" has fallen deeply into drug dependency, which, by the age of 17 has left him violent, angry, and a societal drop out.

"The boy" is not the only subject of the book; she writes about an on-going literary project about Mary Yelloly, who died as a young women in the 1830's and is known today by her watercolor prints of the house she grew up in and the society around her in Regency England. Myerson writes about her "hunt" for a woman dead almost 200 years, a hunt which includes visiting her various homes, meeting many of her direct descendants, and seeing original papers about her life. Mary was one of ten children of a doctor and his wife. Mary and several of her siblings died either in early childhood or in their 20's and 30's, mostly of consumption. So, the term, "lost child" could apply to either Mary or Myerson's son.

Myerson's son has become addicted to "skunk", a particularly virulent form of cannibus.
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Format: Hardcover
Novelist Julie Myerson's new book, "The Lost Child: A Mother's Story", is a deeply moving, heart-felt, thoughtful, and superbly written non-fiction book. The author has woven two independent strands, or merged two disparate stories into one, to produce this sparkling and spell-binding narrative. In the UK, where it was published in March of this year, the book has become highly controversial, and it has generated intense furor not seen since the publication of Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses".

The first story is about a remarkable artist named Mary Yelloly, who died of consumption in 1838, at the age of 21, leaving a collection of some 200 watercolor paintings depicting family life in Regency England in early 19th century. The author saw a fat, leather-bound album with the name Mary Yelloly stamped on the front - a collection of paintings which the artist had started when she was only eight years old, and ended by age 12. The author was intrigued and so impressed with the paintings that she decided to gather information about the artist and her family. During this time her eldest son Jake (referred to throughout the book as "our boy"), aged 17, starts smoking a potent variety of cannabis known as Skunk.

When Ms. Myerson's son gets addicted to smoking cannabis, his descent to hell and the devastation his addiction inflicted on her family forms the second, and much more gripping, dominating and overpowering strand of this astonishing book. There is a vivid description of the circumstances under which Jake impregnates a girl aged 16, and also the termination of the pregnancy: "It's not until I get the call to say it's all over and the girl is fine that I feel it: a surge of dark, dark mourning for what just occurred.
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