Review of A Field Guide to Getting Lost

A Field Guide to Getting Lost
by Joy McCullough
Intermediate    Atheneum    210 pp.    g
4/20    978-1-5344-3849-1    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-3851-4    $10.99

Sutton prefers programming robots to being with people, but she’s still disappointed when she learns that her mother, off researching penguins in Antarctica, won’t return in time for her tenth birthday. Luis writes fantasy-adventure stories, but severe allergies limit his own potential for adventure. Sutton’s dad (divorced) and Luis’s mom (widowed) are dating, but as far as their children go, opposites do not attract, with the gap between science and science fiction bigger than anyone had expected. When Sutton and Luis get lost together during a family hike, however, they discover how to bring out the best in each other and make solid moves toward independence and maturity. The characters’ evolution over the course of the novel is authentic, with the traits that set them apart serving as challenges to be addressed, not problems to be fixed. The book is full of allusions that are clever without being overdone (Sutton’s parents in the roles of emperor penguins, Luis’s hero’s journey as he walks to the store by himself). A strong cast of secondary characters adds depth to the story, and the book’s Seattle setting is richly detailed. The younger-tween experiences of defining identity and establishing independence are authentic and treated with respect in this emotionally satisfying story.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Rettger
Sarah Rettger is an independent bookseller in Boston.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more


We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.