Brooke Davis: Lost & Found (2016)

The main character of “Lost & Found” is a 7-year-old Millie Bird. “What happens when you get to a heaven?” is a question that haunts her, especially after her dog has died. In her red wellington boots, Millie is a cute girl whose thoughts give a reader some bittersweet and heart-breaking moments. Millie keeps the record of dead things around her: dead things, for example spider, bird, grandma are marked on her note book. Child’s perspective on the concept of “death” is felt in a direct way.

The grief. How to deal with the feeling of having lost some dear person? Is there a wrong or right way of going through the grievance? And how to continue your life, how to move on after some important part of your life has vanished? These are the questions that arise as more characters in Davis’ story are introduced: Karl, an elderly man with the special feature of “touch typing” his sentences, and Agatha Pantha, an elderly woman who has not left her house for seven years.  They both have lost someone they loved, and they are in the process of dealing with their repressed emotions. They do have their own peculiar habits (Karl carrying a mannequin, Agatha’s random shouts), yet these features make their stories even more interesting to follow. And everyone has a one thing in common: how to find Millie’s mom who has disappeared? The humour of Brooke Davis manages to be very sharp and witty in this debut novel of hers, and gives a promising start for her future writing career.

Australian literature is a theme for our book circle for this fall, and to start with a book by Davis was not a bad choice. However, even though the events take place on the Western coast of Australia, they could have happened in any other geographical location as well. Australian features are scarcely recognized: Kalgoorlie is a place to be found on the map, in contrast to Warwickvale which seems to be more of an imaginary place. At least, the author has undoubtedly named her somewhat annoying lady character Agatha Pantha after Agapanthus, a plant that is classified as a weed in many parts of Australia. We also recognized a special kind of biscuit, Anzac cookies, mentioned. This Australian biscuit is a reminder of the war history, namely of the times of 1WW, when Australia, together with New Zealand as Allied forces were fighting against the Osmanians; Anzac biscuits were popular comfort food sent from the home fronts.

Lost & Found loses its intensity towards the end of the story, and most of us felt that the beginning was more promising. We felt like losing the grip on this girl who, along the story, started to vanish more into the background. We simply would have liked to learn more about her. If you have read a book called “The Shock of the Fall” by Nathan Filer, and you liked the approach of the serious matters with lighter touch, and the plot that is constructed with small fragments and flashbacks, this book could be something for you.

-Marika

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Cover: LibraryThing

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