My official review of Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money by Geneen Roth, which I wrote a more personal take on here.
I'm a longtime Geneen Roth fan, and think this might be her best work yet, or at the very least, right up there, as she untangles the ways we think about money and food and what they represent. She starts with her own major loss--her and her husband's life savings of one million dollars, which had been invested with Bernie Madoff. But what's really at the heart of this book is why and how she came to invest with him and the assumptions she'd made about money--that caring about it was for "other people" (read: men) and that those who felt moved to act for social change "shouldn't" care about money.
I found so many connections to what she wrote about money and my own relationship...with dating and relationships. It was almost eerie, and I think anyone who's felt that they should look to an authority figure who "knows better," whether about money or another topic, who has purposefully avoided looking at the hard things, thinking they'd either go away or magically take care of themselves, who's used money to soothe themselves, will get something out of this book.
At first, especially if you're someone who lives paycheck to paycheck, the idea that someone with such a nest egg could feel worried about money seems a bit audacious, over-the-top, but it's a very clear line from those who are thin but feel fat, and what Roth does best here is describe that feeling, and how the extreme nature of what happened with her savings forced her to reckon with her previous thinking. The stories about her father's treatment of money (tossing it onto the floor and making everyone else literally scramble on the ground to pick it up) are eerie and disturbing, but Roth never asks us to feel sorry for her. She isn't looking at what made Madoff do what he did but rather how her own attitude fosters her ignorance and allowed her to continue to put money into a category outside of her own mind. This is a powerful book that I will certainly be rereading, and Roth masterfully looks deep inside as well as outside, amongst her peers who lost money to Madoff and their varying reactions as well as in a broader sense, to what money does and doesn't signify in our culture.