When I try to conceptualize life, I tend to frame it in the extended bit, the bulky middle that contains all of the major milestones in a timeline: education, graduation, career jumps, proposals, homes, families, losses, friendships and so on and so forth. I’ve been conditioned to think that that is when life happens; it exists within marked spots on a timeline. This is life-life.
But what about the period before and after life-life. What happens then? The bleak and poorly thought out suggestions would tell you that you are young, and you are old. You are either on the precipice, or near the end. That is a terrible way to look at those periods, yet I think there is a tendency to do so because we don’t value the unique innocence and the continuous unfolding inherent to those respective life periods; we forget that within those periods, we actually are still human.
This is why Brooke Davis’ “Lost & Found” is such a beautiful novel. Through the individual narratives of an elderly man, woman and child, Davis sketches an honest yet fairly uplifting portrayal of the boundless potential at the beginning and concluding pillars of our lifetimes, reminding readers that not only is there a life to be lived, but a life that has been lived for both the young and the old.
Millie Bird, a seven year old child who recently lost her father, finds herself hiding behind a women’s undergarment rack in a department store, because that is where her mother left her, assumedly for good. Karl the Touch Typist fondly recalls his deep love for his deceased wife while simultaneously plotting to escape his retirement home. Agatha Pantha is a widowed, quasi-bitter and isolated soul who enjoys her routine, refuses to leave her home and has a strong set of judgmental eyes.
In an odd turn of events, these three character storylines intersect in a long-winded (at least, it feels like it, but it actually only takes place over the course of a few days) journey to reunite Millie with her mother. The jolting unlikeliness of the story’s plot may deter some readers from diving into the emotional bulk that ties it together, but for those who can work with a snapshot that would pay-off easily in a film adaptation, there is a lot to consider here.
I was particularly touched by how these three characters conceptualized and experienced death and grief. Bouncing between the curiosity and wonderment of a young child and the paralyzing experience of death at an older age, the reader comes to the realization that death can never be fully understood, but in its tragedy, depth and sadness, it can be accepted, and there can be a life beyond those losses. Learning is ongoing; our experiences, even in the earliest and latest periods, are still valid; wisdom is infinite.
Davis made a brilliant choice to express these ideas through the perspective of the young and the old, and skillfully did so with humour and warmth. Her style cuts the occasional ridiculousness of the plot and allows the real heart of the story to loudly emerge. I certainly love Millie, Karl and Agatha, but what I love more is their hope. Hope for where we’ve been and where we’re going. Hope for what is the inevitable. Life-life could do with a solid reminder of that.
I received a copy of “Lost & Found” from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. “Lost & Found” is available for purchase in stores now.