Author: Brooke Davis
Hachette RRP $26.99
Review: Monique Mulligan

It took only minutes to be enchanted by Brooke Davis’ debut novel, Lost & Found; for the next two hours I curled up on the lounge, lost in the unsophisticated, innocent world of three quirky and lovable characters. Lost & Found is a dazzling reflection on grief, loss and trust, that’s all the more heartfelt because of its childlike perspective. There’s something about the way children view the world, before complications blur their eyes, that is wonderful, profound, simplistic all at once, and Davis captures this feeling with a big “high five”.

Likewise, the blurb captures that feeling:

At seven years old, Millie Bird realises that everything is dying around her. She wasn’t to know that after she had recorded twenty-seven assorted creatures in her Book of Dead Things her dad would be a Dead Thing, too. Agatha Pantha is eighty-two and has not left her house since her husband died. She sits behind her front window, hidden by the curtains and ivy, and shouts at passers-by, roaring her anger at complete strangers. Until the day Agatha spies a young girl across the street. Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven when his son kisses him on the cheek before leaving him at the nursing home. As he watches his son leave, Karl has a moment of clarity. He escapes the home and takes off in search of something different. Three lost people needing to be found. But they don’t know it yet. Millie, Agatha and Karl are about to break the rules and discover what living is all about.

Three curious characters, all lost in their own way, bring to life Lost & Found. At seven, Millie’s voice is the youngest, full of questions about things she doesn’t understand, and equally full of wisdom about the things adults forget or overlook. As I shared her journey to find her mum and make sense of a rapidly changing world, I wanted to wrap her in my arms and protect her; my heart ached when she left messages for her mum. Karl and Agatha inspired a similar nurturing feeling (well, I confess I may have been too scared to hug Agatha, but she needed someone, a really brave someone, to); in their own way, these two characters were also like children – Agatha with her tantrums and Karl with his simplistic view of life, both a little over-the-top and impetuous.

Their eccentricities may be seen by some as a bit much or a bit too cute, but I saw these quirks differently: the unusual behaviours highlight an important point – we all deal with grief and loss differently. The quirks and “out-there”, almost slap-stick, scenarios also take the sharp edges off the more confronting issues like death and abandonment, allowing astute observations to be made in a gentle manner. The language is descriptive, clever, engaging and wry, and appealed wholeheartedly to my inner little girl inasmuch as it did to the grown-up me. Here’s a snippet from one of my favourite sections in the book in which Karl and his late wife Evie’s relationship is explored:

They lived such a small life. Trees and flowers and ocean and neighbours. They never scaled mountains, or braved rapids, or went on tellie. They never ate strange animals in Asian countries. They never starved themselves or set themselves on fire for the greater good. They never delivered a rousing speech, sang in a musical or fought in a boxing ring … (p80)

I smiled. I laughed. I gasped. I cried. I wanted to read Lost & Found again. Davis let me see the world through a child’s eyes, if only for a few short hours. A shining new talent has emerged and I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us.

Available from good bookstores and Hachette Australia. My copy was courtesy of Hachette.

Bookish treat: I often wondered what Millie ate when she was waiting in the department store. I like to think it was chocolate.


Monique Mulligan

Monique Mulligan

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