Book Buzz: The Luster of Lost Things

It took no time to be swept up in the magic in The Luster of Lost Things, Sophie Chen Keller’s new novel set in a tiny bakery in New York City. Tantalized by Keller’s mouthwatering descriptions of flaky croissants fresh from the oven, sweet vanilla wafers with sea-salted caramel filling, and double butterscotch pops, I was practically swooning with desire for one of the sugary concoctions created by Lucy at her bakery,The Lavenders.

Book Buzz: The Luster of Lost Things

Lucy, a talented pastry chef, pours her energies into running The Lavenders while faced with the sadness of being a single mom. Her pilot husband disappeared when his plane crashed in the ocean while she is pregnant with their only child. Now she is devoted to making a life for herself and her son.

One cold wintry night, she invites a homeless woman into the warmth and comfort of her bakery, and in return the woman gives her a book of drawings that Lucy displays in the shop. This book, known as the Book, becomes pivotal to the story.

Twelve year-old Walter Lavender Jr. might remind you of the boy in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. He is bright and good-hearted with a communications disorder that renders his speech difficult. Taunted in the school yard, his refuge is the bakery where he pitches in before and after school, and every day places a lighted candle in the shop’s window, hoping it will bring his father home.

Plaintively, he wonders,

“Couldn’t Walter Lavender Sr. try a little bit harder to come back or send a sign? I am the one doing all the looking even though he is the one who is supposed to be here, to teach me the things I do not know.”

Walter Jr. has a super power of sorts: he can help people find lost things. He finds a missing cockatiel, a bassoon, and even a lost dog that ends up becoming his own, Milton.

But when the beloved Book goes missing and business in the bakery flounders, he sets out to find it and realign the stars. This takes him on an astounding search through New York City, in the dingy tunnels of the subway system, in Chinatown, across Central Park and so many other landmarks. In his quest, he learns about what it means to lose and find something precious, and also what it means to be him.

Oh, does Sophie Chen Keller have a way with words. Describing the end of a school day, she writes,

“… when the afternoon bell rings, the cherry red doors fling open and the kids pour out like spilled birdseed.”

Walter Jr. says,

“… I step behind the counter and search for the squeaking mice, nudging away a ring of passion fruit marshmallows engaged in a sumo match. I wait, looking into the display case as a jelly frog studded with chopped dates and hazelnuts hops across the second level.”

And when Lucy and Walter Jr. bake together:

“I tilt my bowl over the mixer and we alternate adding our wet and dry ingredients so the bubbles of air in the batter don’t pop and the cake emerges tender and fluffy from the oven. Lucy pours out the batter and it cascades across the first baking pan in a butter-silk curtain.

‘Masterful,’ she pronounces.”


Yes, it is.

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of The Luster of Lost Things. Please leave a comment below, and a winner will be randomly selected. US addresses only, please.


I received a copy of The Luster of Lost Things from Putnam for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

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27 Thoughts on “Book Buzz: The Luster of Lost Things

  1. Sounds like my kind of read, yummy food well described with a good story! Thanks

  2. I must add this book to my reading list. The writing is so descriptive….really fantastic. The life of a pastry chef is probably quite sweet! I adore New York, too!

  3. Oh, this sounds like a lovely story. The descriptions are so fresh.

  4. sseidmon on August 14, 2017 at 1:39 pm said:

    Can’t wait to read this book- it sounds delicious!

  5. I don’t know this author, but I love the character that you compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, an all-time favorite. And when you throw baking in the mix, there is even more allure. Thanks.

  6. I can see why you liked this book, a good story line and a bakery filled with sweets. Sounds like a winner.

  7. Sounds delicious! I’ve been reading a lot more lately. I had dragged off for a while too tired from working, but nothing helps you relax more than a good book! Thanks for the tip!

  8. Sounds like a good read. I love stories that could happen in real life.

  9. This sounds like an awesome read, I have just started getting back into reading and I am so after some great reads!

  10. Definitely looking to add some new book titles to my reading list this fall and this is definitely going on there! Definitely something I would love to read!

  11. I don’t think I have read anything by her. This does sound like a sweet book, something I should reserve at the library.

  12. I must say that The Luster of Lost Things sounds like an intriguing title. I like that the story takes place in a tiny bakery!

  13. This sounds like a really cool ready. The title is intriguing and sounds delightful that it takes place in a bakery.

  14. This book sounds like such a good read. I definitely need to add this to my reading list!

  15. This sounds like an awesome book! I have so many books on my reading list right now, but I definitely have to add this one.

  16. Looks like a luscious read. Reminds me of Paris with a bakery on every corner.

  17. Blair villanueva on August 17, 2017 at 9:55 am said:

    Definitely will check this book because of your good recommendation. Thanks dear!

  18. This sounds like a book I would enjoy reading. I would love to read more about Lucy and her story.

  19. This sounds like an awesome book! I have been making it a priority to read more books lately, so I am adding this to my list 🙂

  20. I had never heard of this author before (or this book) until now. Thanks for the info! May need to buy this book

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