I wrote down the microchemical raptures I was having, one after the next, from beginning to end of this revelatory novel ... The Lost Children Archives [is] a semi-autobiographical gloss that Lueselli skillfully crafts without dipping into the pedantic accumulations that sometimes overwhelm such books ... It is a breathtaking journey, one that builds slowly and confidently until you find yourself in a fever dream of convergences. The Lost Children Archive is simply stunning. It is a perfect intervention for our horrible time, but that fleeting concurrence is not why this book will be read and sampled and riffed on for years to come ... The Lost Children Archive contains multitudes, contradictions, and raises difficult questions for which there are no easy answers. It is a great American novel. It is also a great human novel.
The novel truly becomes novel again in [Luiselli's] hands — electric, elastic, alluring, new ... Luiselli is a superb chronicler of children, and the narrator’s 5-year-old daughter and her husband’s 10-year-old son feel piercingly real — perceptive, irreplaceable, wonderfully odd ... Luiselli drives home just how much pain and sacrifice we are prepared to accept in the lives of others. She dramatizes what it takes for people to stare hard at their own families, to examine their complicity in other people’s suffering.
What emerges from this braiding and reworking of disparate texts is a highly imaginative and politically deft portrait of childhood within a vast American landscape. The parents and their children—one of whom narrates parts of the book—see and imagine the same territory differently, their experiences and those of the young migrants traveling elsewhere in the desert overlapping and separating again to create a kind of patchwork representation of how America might see itself ... A rollicking tale that contains within it an extremely disciplined exercise in political empathy ... Luiselli performs a perspectival shift that shows the reader something she wouldn’t normally see, and also maps the past onto the present in ways that can reveal hidden contours in both.