- Both male and female readers who are looking for another good read.
- Readers not put off by themes of death, grieving and loss.
- Any fans of great books by international authors.
Told from three alternating and unique perspectives – 7 year-old Millie Bird, 82 year-old Agatha Pantha and 87 year-old Karl the Touch Typist – Lost & Found tells the story of three people who are bonded together under unlikely circumstances, in the tradition of so many great tales, where they are gradually introduced to the ever-changing ideas of age, death and even life in completely new ways.
As both a bookseller of 6+ years and as an English major in her final semester of study, I cannot understate this: Lost & Found is one of the most beautiful narratives I have ever come across in my entire time as an avid reader, and this is a book that I strongly recommend to other readers, from the casual page-flipper to the owner of overflowing bookshelves.
About the Characters
What kicks off the journey of our three main characters’ is when young Millie is abandoned by her mother in a department store in the “big lady undies” department. Millie is a young girl who is fixated on ideas surrounding death and carries around with her a funeral kit of sorts in order to commemorate the loss of lives around her, even the lives as narrowly thought of as that of the swatted fly. She also keeps with her a Book of Death where she records the deaths of all creatures she comes across, with the death of her father taking up an entire page.
Agatha appears as a kooky agoraphobic to passers-by and to her neighbours. She hasn’t left her house since the death of her husband, but she is more than your typical shut-in. Like Millie who records details of death, Agatha records the progression of her own ageing as part of her rigorous daily schedule – which includes a window for yelling at people passing in front of her house from the comfort of her own living room: “Pull your pants up! Stupid shoes! Too many hairclips! Thin lips!”
While I would be interested in listening to the audio book of this novel (specifically the Australian one that is currently in production), at the same time I am also terrified by the idea because I fear that Agatha’s screaming voice may give me nightmares.
Karl, whose calling card throughout the novel is “Karl the Touch Typist wuz ere” is a man that uses his fingers (some of which have been reduced to nubs through a coffin-related incident) to type on his leg, on the table, in the air, the words he is saying as he is saying them. The character of Karl the Touch Typist is the main reason that I feel that a male would both enjoy this novel and why I feel that the men out there really should read this novel: One source of anxiety for Karl is that he is unsure about what elements make up the idea of manliness and masculinity, and as his life changes after his wife’s death and through his experiences with Millie and Agatha as the three of them are thrown together on a journey across Australia to reunite Millie with her mother. He does his best to figure out what it truly means to be a man as he puts himself in charge of protecting the women in his company that he feels responsible for.
Here is a look at the book trailer for Lost & Found:
A Close Encounter
Being both a blogger and having worked for a particular company as a bookseller, I was given a unique opportunity to travel to Toronto last month in order to attend a meet & greet lunch with the author of Lost & Found, Brooke Davis. It was a great event and I could detail the entire meal for you all, but my encounter with this author won’t really effect how all of you will view this book, so let me relay the information I’ve learned about the author and this book that will provide you all with some context on the novel.
Australian-born author Brooke Davis has also worked as a bookseller, and is still working as one today! She has a Masters’ degree in ___ and Lost & Found was actually written originally as her thesis on loss and grief. At the end of my advanced copy of the book was an excerpt from an academic paper written by Davis titled “Catching the light: Finding words for grief with Lewis, Didion and Woolf.” This article can actually be found online, and I honestly believe that fellow English majors may find this paper interesting, plus it includes excerpts from her novel. Click here to view that article.
Why I Love This Book
Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways . . . There are a number of reasons why I have chosen to recommend this title to other avid readers, all of which I feel very strongly about.
This novel is told through the three alternating perspectives of Millie, Agatha and Karl the Touch Typist. Each of these narrative perspectives is incredibly unique, not just compared to one another. Millie’s chapters in particular are my favorite, and soon she will be your favorite too; this young girl looks at the world through a lens that has been altered by the loss of her father and the things in life that she knows to be true, such as how “sorry is sometimes the only thing left to say”, or “everyone knows everything about being born, and no one knows anything about being dead.” To give an example at just how unique the world can seem through Millie’s eyes, here is one of my favorite excerpts from the novel:
”She thinks of how Stella said that no one knows what happens at the bottom of the sea, and she wonders if Sea People live quiet lives down there, watching Sea Television and laughing at one another’s Sea Jokes. Would they call the sky the ocean and the ocean the sky? Would their music travel through the air in bubbles? Millie wishes that all words and music. That you had to pop each one to let the sound out. How silent and surprising the world would be. You would always get a fright when someone popped a bubble and a sound jumped out of it, ta-da! Except maybe more people would be hit by cars, and it would be harder to get your mum’s attention from across the street. And what if a HELP bubble went sailing off into the sky, was popped by a jet plane, and no one could hear it over the roar of the engine?”
When I gave a copy of this book to my manager, when she was about 1/3 of the way through, the only thought she had to share with me about the book was to say, “It’s really weird.” XD Since I’m the resident weirdo at the bookstore, I’m used to things like this. If I had to take an outsider’s stab at what brought on my manager’s idea of this book being “weird,” it would be that all three of these characters are far examples from “normal” people – they’re unique in either a mental, emotional, or physical capacity, or even an odd combination of those three.
The situations they find themselves in throughout this journey; the thoughts and memories that cross these characters’ minds; their reactions to the seemingly “normal” background characters that exist around the three of them. It’s these sorts of reasons that may earn this book the moniker of “weird” but there is more to it than that.
Lost & Found not only has a myriad of examples of uniqueness within its pages, but it embraces this idea of utter uniqueness, it owns it! It doesn’t shy away from the weird and try to be like other books on the shelves, and for that reason it has stood out to me significantly compared to other novels I have read. It deals with grief and death in ways I have yet to see it explored: through the eyes of a child that has had many recorded brushes with those around her dying, through the eyes of a woman fixated on ageing and growing old but simultaneously terrified of it, through the actions of a man that finds reason to live his life after he stops thinking and starts taking action. It’s for all of these reasons and more why I am so in love with this book.
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