I recently won a copy of “Lost & Found” by Australian author Brooke Davis. I was excited to have it arrive on a Friday afternoon and it was a quick read over the weekend.
I seem to be on a bit of an Australian kick, having recently finished Ellie Marney’s “Every Breath“. The first thing that strikes me is both books left me wanting to make a pavlova! It must be an Australian thing. I don’t think I’ve ever had one and I know I’ve never made one. So that’s going to the top of the “to be baked” pile, along with Lamingtons. Nothing like a little local flavor to help you further immerse yourself in a story.
The dialogue in the book is set out in italics, instead of the typical quotation marks. I didn’t have any problem with this, but I know others found it distracting. The Australian “flavor” of the book is toned down compared to others I’ve read (or I’m getting used to it). I only had to look up what “bonox” is – a beef stock powder that is often consumed as a beverage. I take this as good and bad. It makes the book more palatable for an international market, but I enjoy stepping a bit deeper into the culture of other places when I read books that aren’t set in North America, or even ones that are set in culturally unique areas.
I had a bit of trouble getting into the book, but once I’d started, it was an easy read and I was eager to keep going. The main voice in the book is 7 year old Millie and it starts out with her being abandoned in a local department store. My heart broke for her, especially as she doesn’t initially seem to realize that her mum isn’t coming back. We eventually meet the other two main characters, 82 year old widow Agatha Pantha and 87 year old widower Karl. They embark on a journey to find Millie’s mother.
The story focuses on dealing with death and the grief that accompanies it. Millie keeps a Book of Dead Things and is clearly working out what death is and means. Agatha and Karl are both still grieving the loss of their spouses and are coping in different ways. Together their adventure allows them to start to come to terms with their loss and live again.
There were some brilliant, thought provoking and insightful passages in the book. I want to gather these up and keep them with me.
There was humour, like when Millie’s father explains heaven: “You see, Squirt, there’s heaven, and then there’s hell. Hell is where they send all the bad people, like criminals and con artists and parking inspectors. And heaven is where they send all the good people, like you and me and that nice blonde from Master Chef.”
Reflections that remind us of being young: “Millie once thought that no matter where you fell asleep, you would always wake up in your own bed. She fell asleep at the table, on the neighbor’s floor, on a ride at the show, and when she woke she was under her own covers, looking up at the ceiling of her own bedroom. But one night she woke when she was being carried from the car into the house. She looked at her dad through half-closed eyes. It’s been you all this time, she whispered into his shoulder.”
And some truths: “All I know for sure is that no one knows what’s goin’ on at the bottom of the sea, or in our brains, or when we die. That’s okay, I reckon. Gives us something to think about. When we’re driving buses or whatever.”
But I was left feeling like if I met the characters in real life I wouldn’t like them at all. I appreciate their struggle and I think that we’re meant to understand why someone would act the way they do. But the way they act is not always (rarely) something I’d be comfortable with. And maybe that was the point.
I’m giving it at 3.5/5 I’d recommend it to others, but it’s not a story that I’m going to go back and read again. The writing is lovely but the story line left me wanting.