Lost & Found by Brooke Davis
Pub. Date: January 22, 2015
Source: ARC via publisher (Thank you, Dutton!!)
Summary: Millie Bird is a seven-year-old girl who always wears red wellington boots to match her red, curly hair. But one day, Millie’s mum leaves her alone beneath the Ginormous Women’s underwear rack in a department store, and doesn’t come back.
Agatha Pantha is an eighty-two-year-old woman who hasn’t left her home since her husband died. Instead, she fills the silence by yelling at passers-by, watching loud static on TV, and maintaining a strict daily schedule. Until the day Agatha spies a little girl across the street.
Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven years old and once typed love letters with his fingers on to his wife’s skin. He sits in a nursing home, knowing that somehow he must find a way for life to begin again. In a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes.
Together, Millie, Agatha and Karl set out to find Millie’s mum. Along the way, they will discover that the young can be wise, that old age is not the same as death, and that breaking the rules once in a while might just be the key to a happy life.
Genre: Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Recommended for: Readers looking for an emotion, heartfelt tale with a fantastic cast of characters – be sure to have a box of tissues!
I totally judge books by their covers. I’m not ashamed of this at all – nope, no sirree. That beautiful cover – the striking font and bold, vivid colors – are what initially caught my eye, but I’m VERY pleased to say the loveliness doesn’t end there; the inside is just as incredible. When I discussed Lost & Found with the publicist, she mentioned it was an office favorite and, now that I’ve read it (even before I was finished!) I completely understand why.
Seven-year-old Millie Bird finds herself abandoned inside a department store, obediently waiting in the spot where her mother said to wait for her return…only her mother never came back. Leaving a trail of THIS WAY, MUM and BE RIGHT BACK, MUM notes in her wake, Millie eventually ventures out into the rest of the store, hiding when she can and befriending a mannequin (fully believing, in only the way a lost seven-year-old can, that this mannequin is alive and saved her after collapsing onto a night guard inches away from discovering Millie’s hide-out). In the food court her life becomes entwined with that of an elderly man, Karl.
Karl the Touch Typist’s fingers are always moving, always typing. On the run after breaking out of his nursing home, Karl now spends his days roaming about, waiting for a grand adventure to whisk him away. Although he never meant to befriend a little girl, there’s something about Millie that instantly connects the pair and when Millie is ultimately caught and held while the police are called, Karl knows it’s time to act.
Agatha hasn’t left her home since her husband died nearly a decade ago. Since then her days are lived with a military-like precision: she wakes up at precisely this time, slips on her sensible skirt not a second later than normal, follows her daily ritual of sitting in her Chair of Resentment to shout complaints at the neighbors. One day, without Agatha’s permission, her routine is interrupted. The woman across the street is long gone at that point and her little daughter has been fending for herself. Millie’s arrival at Agatha’s doorstep breaks her solitude and she’s not at all pleased.
Travel itinerary in hand, Millie asks for Agatha’s help in finding her mother. She now knows where she went and, silly Mum, she left before remembering to pick up Millie. Agatha, this woman who hasn’t been out of the house in nearly ten years, decides to track down this heartless woman and, after teaming up with Karl, the pair set off across the country on a life-changing (and eye-opening) journey.
In a note to the reader Brooke Davis discusses how Lost & Found came to be: while in her twenties, she went on a backpacking trip across Asia. After receiving a message from her brother telling her to call home immediately, she learned her mother has unexpectedly passed away and without a moment’s hesitation, she’s on a plane. Her anger and hurt and confusion became Lost & Found and the novel was written for her PhD thesis on grief. I’m not sure if that note will be included in the finished copy, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. If I hadn’t read it, I’m sure I would have still loved Lost & Found, but because I was given that background info, these characters took on another meaning for me. Their fears and worries were Brooke’s fears and worries and that’s really what took this book to a new level and set it apart from others.
This is a review I’ve been sitting on for weeks. I tore through the book the week before Christmas, but only recently sat down to gather my thoughts. While Lost & Found isn’t a memoir, it’s still an extremely personal experience and, because of that, I’m having a hard time critiquing it (just as I hard a hard time discussing brown girl dreaming, one of my top reads last year). Even now, despite having a wealth of points I want to make and scenes I want to discuss, I’m at a loss and that is how I know a book has affected me. As with my other favorite novels, I’m finding myself struggling over what to say – I don’t want to give away too much, but I also want to shout about it from the rooftops.
A month and several books later, I’m still finding myself thinking back on these characters. Millie and her boots. Karl the Touch Typist’s love for his wife that will never fade. Agatha’s daily measurements of arm wobblage. Yes, Lost & Found can be described as quirky, but there’s also so much love and pain and at multiple times throughout their journey I wanted to pull each character into my arms and tell them everything will be okay. I am NOT a re-reader, but Lost & Found is a novel I just can’t shake and I know I’ll be returning to in the future. This is a beautiful, beautiful novel I’ll be pushing hard on customers and friends.