Lost Children Archive is the third novel by Mexican author Valeria Luiselli. It tells the story of a wife and husband who take their two children on a road trip from New York to Arizona. The children become lost in the desert, as they search for the migrant children that their parents have told them about. Eventually, they are found. In the end, the wife and husband decide to part ways in order to pursue their own work. Over the course of the road trip, the family drives through a number of desolate American towns. Here, the families are "aliens"—considered as foreign as the undocumented immigrants they're going to study.
Lost Children Archive tells a fundamentally American story, although it may not look that way at first glance. The phenomenon of undocumented immigrants coming to this country for a better life lies close to the heart of the American Dream, a longstanding concept in American culture. The United States was built by immigrants who left Europe, Asia, and other places in droves to achieve a better life. This is exactly what the migrant families that the narrator hopes to study are doing.
One of the purposes that Luiselli had in writing this novel is to expose the contradiction in how immigrants are treated today. American has always been a place of and for immigrants. This novel asks Americans to consider why its immigrants are now treated so poorly.