I’ve been waiting. Waiting for something I wasn’t quite sure what was, but something I wasn’t getting from the books I had been reading lately. They were most of them good books, even really good books that I’d be happy to recommend and put back on the shelf with a smile. But there was something missing, and it wasn’t until I read “Lost & Found” by Brooke Davis that I found it.
I still don’t know what it is exactly – it’s that feeling you get when a book really, genuinely stops being just a book and instead starts resonating in your head with thoughts and feelings about life. About age. And especially about death. And why.
Why are we here? What are we supposed to be doing really? And how do we make sure that all those little things we do and feel every day add up to something that is worth more than just the sum of days when we come to that inevitable place where there are no more days in which to gather memories?
“Lost & Found” doesn’t answer that question. I personally don’t think anyone or any book could really answer that properly, but it just happens to be one of those books that makes the reader reflect a little bit more about what the answer might be to them. And as often before, the clarity to see the little-but-oh-so-big things and questions in life comes from someone who has not yet been taught to not ask.
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.
I feel in love with Millie after the first page – she is a lot more quirky (and honestly a bit strange) than I ever was as a child, but if I ever have a daughter, I would wish her to be just like Millie. She asks all those questions that we feel the need to ask in order to make sense of all the strange things that go on in this life: why do people die? Where do they go when they die? What happens to them and why aren’t they coming back?
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.
Karl, whose lost aching love made me more sad than I remember having been for a long time. Who remembers (or perhaps realises?) that you can do the right thing while also doing the fun thing, and teaches Agatha those things too.
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.
And Agatha, who tapped in to the same feelings that “The Hours” did; feelings about being a woman and getting so caught up in who you thought you were supposed to be that you completely forgot who you wanted to be.
The trio are perfect. In the beginning when they are on their own and later when somehow their togetherness makes them different but without ever losing who they were to begin with. And their adventure is such a laugh!
From everything I have written so far, I’m sure you’re thinking that this is a very sad and serious story about depressed people who struggle through the book while desolately contemplating life. And you couldn’t be further from the truth. I laughed out loud so hard during several scenes in this book, that despite people on the metro looking at me strangely, I just couldn’t stop or hold it in. And while the story manages to say so many things about grief and life and love, the combination of cleverness and silliness that permeates the dialogue throughout makes it that much better.
One of the recurring criticisms I have read about “Lost & Found” is that the story is unlikely, unbelievable and improbable – and I see what those critics mean. Is it really likely that the things that happen on Millie, Karl and Agatha’s trip would really have happened? That they are so extreme in their behaviour and lucky in the outcomes of some very odd situations? Perhaps not. Probably not. But I don’t think it matters at all.
For me, this book is not a real-life tale of 3 unlikely travel mates – it’s a story of grief and love and second chances and adventure – and the factual events in those kinds of stories don’t have to be tested against whether they might actually happen or not. They simply are and focusing on the credibility of events rather than what those events symbolise and bring to life completely misses the entire point of the story.
So, my warmest and most heartfelt recommendations of this lovely book for anyone who is looking for a heartwarming tale that makes you think and reminds you to also feel yourself and the life you are living.
Now, I don’t usually care much for book trailers, but this one is so lovely!
Thank you to Netgalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone, for a free review copy of this book.