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BOOK REVIEW: Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

| 14 September 2014 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

July 2014, $26.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell




Meet Millie.

She’s seven years old, observant, and fascinated by Dead Things.
She was fascinated by Dead Things even before her father became one. He was her twenty-ninth Dead Thing.
She sees the world in a way that will make you giggle, and then likely think back on when you were her age, wonder whether you thought similar things.

There are books at school with pictures of mums with see-through stomachs, and she has always wanted to lift up the shirt of a pregnant lady, just to see if it really is true that your stomach goes see-through when you are pregnant. This makes sense, she thinks, to give the baby a chance to get used to the world before it is in it, like a glass-bottomed boat; otherwise, what a shock! How scary the world would be if you didn’t know it was coming.
Millie has also seen the books with the cartoon people who love each other so much that the man gives the lady a fish and the fish gets inside the lady and lays eggs, and those eggs turn into a human baby. She knows the baby comes out from the place you pee, but she has not seen pictures of this.
After Millie goes swimming in the ocean, she always watches her pee carefully for babies. Just. In. Case.


One day, Millie’s path crosses Karl’s. He’s a touch typist who’s eighty-seven years old and just wants to live again, if you could call what he once did living. He never got to have any adventures, but he did get to spend many years with the love of his life.
He’s got some living to make up for.

Karl wanted to feel again. He wanted to walk onto a crowded bus and make eye contact with a woman with brown hair, blonde hair, blue hair – just hair would be enough – and feel that flip in his stomach, that nice hurt. He wanted to write love letters to women, tons of them. He wanted to see some lesbians. He wanted to swear loudly. In public. He wanted an unattainable woman to break his heart. He wanted a foreigner to touch him on the arm. Man or woman, it didn’t matter. He wanted biceps. He wanted to give someone something big. Not meaningful, just huge.


And then they meet up with Agatha, an eighty-two year old lady who has spent the last seven years being angry at the world and voicing her thoughts on any and every subject that happened to travel down the path outside her house. Because she hasn’t set foot outside her house once in those seven years.
Once scared of and shocked by penises and the men who brandished them, she now pities them. Penises and men alike.

She remembered learning that all men had these monstrosities dangling between their legs. She couldn’t look at a man for a number of months afterwards. Just the knowledge that there were so many hidden penises around unnerved her. She didn’t know how other women could live in a world like this. She felt surrounded, trapped.
Men walked past her in the street and said hello with such smugness, and all Agatha could do was look at the ground and think, He has a penis he has a penis he has a penis. Later, though, as she watched her husband’s penis sadden and age, as all creatures do eventually, she was able to look men in the eye as they walked past her in the street. Hello, she would answer back, her eyes clear, her lips calm.
But she would think, I pity you and your dying penis.




After Millie’s dad died, her mum lost the plot, a plot of which she didn’t have much to begin with. She left Millie in a department store and told her to stay there, while she ran away from her daughter.

Millie’s mum threatened her with that once, Millie remembers, when she was tapping her fingers on her dinner plate during Dancing With The Stars. I’ll rip those things right off, her mum said, without turning around to face her. Don’t try me. And Millie didn’t try her – she hadn’t meant to try her – and sat on her fingers so they wouldn’t try anyone without her knowing.

Millie’s desperate to find her mum, to apologise, to make her mum happy, and to show her mum how good she can be.
After two nights of waiting, hiding inside a rack of ginormous undies, Millie thinks her mum might have lost the way back to her daughter.

Millie knew the way home but believed her mum was making sure Millie knew how to Do What She Was Told, that she knew how to be Good.
So, after a talk with the mannequin at dinner, Millie decided to make things easier for her mum to find her. Using paints from the hardware section, she painted IN HERE MUM as tall as she could on the glass of the automatic doors. Backwards, of course, so her mum could read it from the outside. She arranged the Connect Four pieces so they formed a right-turning arrow and placed the stand near the entrance.
All the mannequins lining the aisles had their arms positioned so they were pointing in the direction Millie’s mum should follow. Some of them held signs. Hi Mum! one said. Keep going! said another. Stop here for a snack!said the next mannequin, and Millie placed one of her Roll-Ups in its upturned hand. The Guess Who? people were arranged in an arrow, the houses from Monopoly indicated a left turn, the Twister spinner gestured forwards.
The nine mannequins closest to the undies each held a letter to spell, IN HERE MUM. The mannequin with the Hawaiian shirt held the final M. She hooked some bras together and strung them from the mannequin’s hand across the aisle, tying them to the top of the Ginormous Women’s Underwear rack like a finishing line. Millie decorated the trail with Christmas lights she found in a bargain bin, and then – letting her red boots poke out just a little bit – lay under the giant undies to wait.

When she has no choice but to leave the store, Millie tries to track down her mum, sticking signs up wherever she goes.

Millie wakes in the middle of the night. She pulls a piece of paper out of her backpack, walks out of the bedroom and down the hallway, opens the front door, and sticks it to the door with Blu-Tack. In Here Mum.


Millie looks down at her dad’s stubby holder on her forearm. She imagines herself with a cape, flying down the aisles of the train, hovering over everyone, and saving them. Flying right out of this train and straight to Melbourne. Her mum would have to forgive her because she will have been so Good. She locks eyes with the boy over the top of the comic. He seems to be egging her on.
So Millie sneaks into the first-class carriage –– and steals a white tablecloth. From her backpack, she pulls out her Funeral Pencil Case, writes CF on the tablecloth in thick black texta, and ties it around her neck. She takes off her gumboots and writes C on the right one and F on the left one. She writes IN HERE MUM on one forearm and SORRY MUM on the other.


This is the place, Millie says, and disappears inside, though not before writing IN HERE MUM in the dirt with her fingers.



Each of the characters had a very distinct voice, though Millie was the strongest, the most real, the reason they all came together in the first place.

The writing was evocative, and I couldn’t put it down. Millie broke my heart, then picked me up, dusted me off, and made me laugh. I adored her. Loved every single thing about her.

I loved learning about these characters and what they had been through, in a story that was told with a linear base, but with tangents, memories, and thoughts running off for a moment, giving us the important bits and pieces to let us know who and why these characters were.

However, there were things that didn’t sit entirely right with Agatha and Karl.
They both had traits that made them quirky and interesting, but sometimes they acted in very strange ways for having lived in this world for so long. And I did find it hard to believe that Agatha was so ready to throw herself into the adventure after having not set foot outside her house in seven years. There were mentions of her routine and she got annoyed when she wasn’t allowed to keep it, and occasionally she slipped back into her old ways of shouting nasty things at passers-by.

I loved the first… 90% of the book, but the ending just sort’ve happened.

The plot was running along nicely, and then suddenly the book was over, leaving some threads untied and some plot elements not explained nor wrapped up.

In short, I loved Millie, enjoyed Agatha and Karl for the most part, and didn’t want to put it down. I emerged with one heck of a book hangover, and this has become one of my go to non-genre recommendations.

But there were definitely things that could have been done better or wrapped up more clearly.



Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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