Published by Penguin on January 22nd 2015
Genres: Family Life, Fiction, General, Humorous
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Millie Bird, seven years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her curly hair. Her struggling mother, grieving the death of Millie’s father, leaves her in the big ladies’ underwear department of a local store and never returns.Agatha Pantha, eighty-two, has not left her house—or spoken to another human being—since she was widowed seven years ago. She fills the silence by yelling at passersby, watching loud static on TV, and maintaining a strict daily schedule.Karl the Touch Typist, eighty-seven, once used his fingers to type out love notes on his wife’s skin. Now that she’s gone, he types his words out into the air as he speaks. Karl’s been committed to a nursing home, but in a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes. Now he’s on the lam.Brought together at a fateful moment, the three embark upon a road trip across Western Australia to find Millie’s mother. Along the way, Karl wants to find out how to be a man again; Agatha just wants everything to go back to how it was.Together they will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself feel sad once in a while just might be the key to a happy life.
Can we start with the cover? I adore it. That and Monika the Book-Pusher (she really needs to just rename her blog) are the two main reasons that I picked this one up. For the most part this book is delightful. My heart broke continuously for poor Millie after she was abandoned by her mother. I spent most of the book terrified on what would eventually become of her.
Lost & Found is told from three perspectives: Millie, Agatha, and Karl. For the most part this technique works very well for this book – the reader is able to enjoy and understand the backstory of each character without it getting too much in the way of the central story at hand – that is finding Millie’s wayward mother. While I enjoyed the sections narrated by Millie the most, so innocent and so weird (in a good way!) Agatha’s story was a close second for me.
As sweet as Millie is there is something a bit haunting about the sections written from Agatha and Karl’s perspective, they are both haunted by the simple fact that they are aged – something they could never properly conceive during the prime of their lives. Despite this sense of haunting their characters are fun, quirky, and unexpectedly delightful.
As much as this story is about both the elderly and the extremely young being invisible to our society at large it’s also about grief. All of the characters have lost someone – how a person chooses to handle this grief is something I really feel is explored quite well by Davis. I particularly enjoyed the essay included at the end on her handling the grief of losing her mother.
For all the good in this book, I didn’t find it to be great. It’s definitely well worth the read but for reasons I can’t quite pinpoint it lacked the ‘it’ factor that makes me jump up and down and proclaim “EVERYONE MUST READ THIS BOOK!”. The characters are delightful, the subject matter is heartbreaking but still heartfelt… but there was still something missing for me.
I seem to be on an Australian author kick lately, purely by accident. There’s something fabulous for me about trying to figure out which English speaking country the story is located in. (Spoiler: it’s Australia)
Excellent reviews also at:
A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Words for Worms
What about you, Reader? Have you read anything lately highlighting the problem our society has in rendering both the very young and very old nearly invisible? Tackling aging or grief?