Fiction Book Reviews

Literary YA Fiction | The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller

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When I was asked if I would like to read and review Sophie Chen Keller’s debut, The Luster of Lost Things, I was drawn in:

Through Walter’s eyes readers return to the magical world we each inhabited as children where every person you meet is just a potential friend to be made and any problem can be solved with hope, persistence, and a magical dessert. This is a timeless story about friendship and family that shows everything and everyone can be found if you take the time to truly see what—and who—is around you.

We lose so much from our childhood’s when we take on the mantle of duty and responsibility don’t we!  The Luster of Lost Things is a reminder of that innocence and belief and which I found to be truly inspiring.

The Luster of Lost Things Sophie Chen Keller

Paperback: 292 pages

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (8 Aug. 2017)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0735210780

ISBN-13: 978-0735210783

In this story for readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Man Called Ove, when all seems lost, he finds what matters most.

Walter Lavender Jr. is a master of finding. A wearer of high-tops. A maker of croissants. A son keeping vigil, twelve years counting.

But he wouldn’t be able to tell you. Silenced by his motor speech disorder, Walter’s life gets lonely. Fortunately, he has The Lavenders–his mother’s enchanted dessert shop, where marzipan dragons breathe actual fire. He also has a knack for tracking down any missing thing–except for his lost father.

So when the Book at the root of the bakery’s magic vanishes, Walter, accompanied by his overweight golden retriever, journeys through New York City to find it–along the way encountering an unforgettable cast of lost souls.

Steeped in nostalgic wonder, The Luster of Lost Things explores the depths of our capacity for kindness and our ability to heal. A lyrical meditation on why we become lost and how we are found, from the bright, broken heart of a boy who knows where to look for everyone but himself.


Everyone underestimates 13 yo Walter Jnr’s understanding because of his silence (he has motor a motor speech disorder) and although this contributes to his bullying at school and his feelings of embarrassment, he sees it as a positive.  It makes him free to observe and notice things that others don’t.  As much as I loved this strength of character, I felt sad that as a witness to life, he wasn’t really participating in his own life and with so much to give …

Just before his seventh birthday he realised he could track things and find them so as well as tending his own beacon for his missing father to follow home, he offers a service of finding lost things.   Throughout his quest to find the lost pages of the book that define the bakery, Walter shares with us some of his experiences in finding those lost things.  With morals, emotions and magic a part of this, I found these reflections as inspiring as the quest itself.

On the quest he meets some very interesting characters.  All living on the fringes of society, not wanted or not fitting into expectations, we get to dip into their stories.  There are scenes which could have been ‘dark’ but because of his perceptions are totally the opposite.  His innocence and hope are his protection.  At each ‘stop’ Walter Jnr learns a life lesson whilst also giving something back.  He confronts fears and tackles some awesome challenges which had me so entangled in the story beside him.  To be honest I was emotionally invested in not only Walter Jnr but in every character we meet!

The evil character, poverty, magical numbers, human weaknesses and strengths, wishes and desires, guardians, doors/openings as portals into something subterranean and universal truths are all within these pages.  The Luster of Lost Things is a fairy tale for today’s world.  It’s inspiring and uplifting.  I loved it! and can’t wait to see what the author writes next.

Connect with Sophie Chen Keller


Twitter @imsophieckeller



Find out more about Sophie Chen Keller and her inspiration for The Luster of Lost Thngs in an author Q&A on the Penguin Random House website.

I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 9+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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