Lost & Found, by Brooke Davis, 2014, 2016

Contemporary Fiction
Adult
Lost&FoundSeven-year-old Millie Bird wears red rubber boots to match her red hair. Obsessed about death, she collects her observations in The Book of Dead Things. Entry one is a spider; number 28 is her dad. The story opens as Millie’s mother tells her to wait in the “Ginormous Underwear” section of an Australian department store, walking away in gold shoes. She never returns. After a couple of adventurous days and nights of waiting, Millie escapes the clutches of the store’s security and returns to an empty house. She befriends two elderly people, 87-year-old Karl the Touch Typist, who has himself escaped a nursing home, and crazy neighbour Agatha Pantha, a widow whose method of coping with grief is to yell. Loudly. At everyone. Together they embark on a madcap journey to return Millie to her mother, involving a stolen bus and car, and a train trip funded by assaulting and robbing a bad guy. At its best, it’s a quirky story, often quite funny, with moments of brilliant writing, like this breathtaking observation from Millie after waving her hand through the air and feeling nothing: “… but it’s keeping everyone alive. How can that feel like nothing?” (28). Or the aching truth of Karl’s lament, “Life had been one blink and one breath and one piss …” (80). I felt a near-physical pain every time Millie put up her sign In Here Mum. And the bookended perspectives on death and love from the very young to the very old offer plenty of fodder for thoughtful reading. But somehow the characters, their reactions, and the coincidences that move this story to its finish fail to fully engage me. I enjoyed Agatha’s sass: “Never trust a woman skinnier than you! Write that down!” (147) but she borders on farcical. While I liked the loosely tied ending, it’s annoying that no one apparently faces consequences for some pretty serious criminal behaviour, despite the motivation. Overall, an enjoyable read if you keep your expectations in check, with moments of great writing and quirky, if occasionally vexatious, characters. My thanks to publisher Dutton for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20823038
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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