Little C has a touch and feel book that has pictures of animals and text descriptions of what sound they make. Perhaps to be non-discriminatory towards animals that do not typically have sounds, they have included descriptions of their colouring or shape instead. It’s rather jarring to go from: “a monkey says ‘ooh ooh! Aah ahh!’” to “a starfish says “FIVE LONG LEGS!” I don’t know how many of you watched Futurama (heck, I don’t even know how many of you are out there!), but there is a character named Hypnotoad, and every time Scott reads C this book, he yells out “FIVE LONG LEGS” in the voice of hypnotoad. To be honest, I’m not sure if C finds in funny, startling, or, since this has been going on pretty much since she was born (it was a random gift from her sweet little cousin, A, who insisted she have a copy of the book), whether she’s just so over it. But she also has great joy from screaming things loudly at random. Of course, not to be outdone, I too will scream things loudly at random.
Until I read this book.
In this book, you follow three characters. There is the obvious protagonist, Millie, who is just a young girl whose father has died, and whose mother has recently abandoned her (in a terribly gut-wrenching scene, describing her mother’s shoes disappearing into the distance as the invisible string that Millie pretends attaches them together stretches further and further) . There is Karl, the Touch Typist, whom she meets in the department store where she is still waiting for her mother to return. He has recently lost the love of his life, Evie, and has escaped from the institution his son placed him in. Finally, there is Agatha, who has also recently lost a spouse, but who was never really sure if she loved him, having married him because that was what was done in her day. His death seems to set her free from social conventions. She eschews the meals and desserts brought over by neighbours and friends, locks herself in her house, measures the progression of her age daily (the length of her wrinkles, the depth of her jowls), and screams all of her thoughts of those passing by her windows: “Too hairy! Arms too skinny! Needs a belt!”
I’m not sure how I feel now having identified myself with a crone.
I had high expectations of this story. I had read a brief synopsis one day when Scott and I were browsing bookstores, but failed to make note of the title, figuring it didn’t seem to be my usual book (ie: “International Bestseller” often translates to my brain as “pulp”), but it haunted me. For months. One day when perusing the shelves again, I thought I found it. The cover looked strikingly familiar. The style was right. The colours were right. But the story was wrong. Defeated I went home. A few weeks later, perusing shelves again with a gift card burning a hole in my wallet, I asked a staff member if she knew of “the book where a little girl is looking for her mother…” and before I could recall any other details, she launched into it herself: “… in a department store? With an old man and an old lady? It’s an amazing, touching book. You have to read it. You just have to. I don’t know what kind of book you usually like, but it’s just beautiful”
But of course, she couldn’t remember the name either. She called another staff person over, who knew the book as well, but also couldn’t remember what it was called. She did, however, provide the best clue: she knew exactly where in the store to find it. We walked over to the third table from the end, with the salesperson still gushing about the book-that-has-no-name, and picked up the one in the first row.
It had the right colours.
It had the right style.
And by George, it had the right story.
And my little lost book that I just found? Ironically, it was Lost And Found by Brooke Davis.
The salesperson and I spent the next 10 minutes talking, with her continuously effervescing : “you will not be disappointed in it” and “it’s not Kleenex box sad, but it tugs at those heartstrings¸” even as she wrote up another set of recommendations for me.
I may have discovered this book the first time, by myself, but I feel fairly comfortable letting this one check off as my “recommended by bookseller” pick for 2016.
It was high praise, and while it was a good read that did indeed pull at my heart strings, the resolution seemed hastily stitched together, and there was little difference between the narration from each point of view. It was an enjoyable read, but not exceptionally well written. A solid 3/5 for me.