Lost Children Archive

by Valeria Luiselli

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Part IV Summary

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Part IV: Lost Children Archive

Box VI

Box VI contains echoes that are written out from the perspective of the girl. She documents echoes from the car, insects, food, strangers, the desert, and more. The sounds are written with a mix of onomatopoeia and actual memories, such as the boy being stung by a bee and the girl’s tooth falling out. In the following section, the boy recounts how he helped the girl write out all of these echoes that they captured together.


The Document in Part IV is the last piece of text the reader encounters. It consists of the final recording the boy makes for the girl, because the girl and Ma will take a flight back to New York the following day. The boy prefaces the recording by asking Ma not to listen, but this request is followed by several apologies to Ma about taking her things without asking and losing some of them. After apologizing, he asks Ma to simply keep the recording safe so “Memphis” can listen to it when she’s older.

The boy describes what happened to the kids after they were rescued in the mountains. He says that park rangers put blankets on them and gave them food. He recalls how Pa drove home “very slowly” as Ma sat in the backseat with them. She held them and kissed them the entire way.

The boy tells the girl that he believes their parents tried to stay together. They cooked and had game nights in the cabin in the Dragoon Mountains. They made repairs around the house and seemingly tried to make it a home, but at the end of the day, the boy thinks Ma and Pa have different paths to take, and neither wants to give up their dreams. He believes Ma and Pa doing their own things is the right choice.

The boy tries to decide which type of documenting he wants to do in his life and decides sound and pictures are the best way to document, especially because the girl struggles to read. He tells the girl he has filled his box with these recordings and all of his pictures for her to keep. He hopes one day they will help her understand this trip and life in general.

Through the boy’s final reflection, the reader learns that Manuela’s daughters were found in the desert, but they weren’t alive. He wonders if the girls were actually Manuela’s daughters. He then reminds the girl of their adventures, including meeting the lost children in the train car, and implores her to keep all of these memories.

At the end of his recording, he mentions their game with the song “Space Oddity,” reminding her about how they used to blast off into space. He tells her not to be afraid if she ever feels lost again, because they will find each other in the future.


Box VII is the box the boy leaves for the girl; it contains twenty-four Polaroid pictures from the trip. The first picture is the one Ma takes of the kids in Part I when she figures out how to correctly use the camera. It’s also the moment she feels the kids are beginning to fade away. The reader also finds pictures of the Elvis Presley Boulevard Inn, the cafes where the family stopped to eat, and the private plane that took the children home. From pictures of the girl to random shots of train cars, the reader is able to access images of the entire trip and receive a glimpse into a visual archive of the family’s adventure.

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Part III Summary