Tuesday, August 18, 2015

On loss, and a review of Lost and Found by Brooke Davis

I've been thinking a lot about loss lately, coming to terms with the loved ones who have left or are in the active process of departing. We're not a vocal bunch about it, in general. But if you're seven years old, as Millie Bird, the pivotal character of this novel is, you'd have even less experience. Millie, and three compatriots she gathers (recently widowed Karl the Touch Typist (87), local hermit Agatha Pantha (82), and Manny the department store manikin), come together in this debut novel, to search out both Millie's truant mother, and a stability in a world that for each of them has gone rocky.

It took me a little while to find the rhythm of this book, but once I did, I enjoyed it. I saw the world through Millie's eyes, as she collects a list of dead things to help her understand and cope with the loss of her mother, and the death of her father. She leaves messages like beacons for her mother: on windows of department stores, backs of buses, the door of her abandoned home: "In here Mum". She explores the hyphen, the dash between two dates on a grave stone. She becomes a superhero: Captain Funeral. She is a seven year old girl, in search of answers.

The winning part of this book for me (and what raised it in the rating), though, was the article by the author that follows the story, Relearning the World. Davis' world was reshaped January 27, 2006, when she found my mum on the front page of the newspaper for all the wrong reasons: "Freak Gate Crush Death" in capitals. Letters so thick, so black; death so close it could have been me. (You can google it for more info, if you wish.) I, too, live in that place where grief crops up unexpectedly, fiercely. The prescribed mourning periods may be over, but it can be a simple thing -- the taste of a peach in summer, the way the rain moves across a beach, the smell of lilacs in the air, that make me long for those now gone from this earth. It's hard to share, because there are those who simply say "get over it", while others understand that memory is an important part of life, the way you preserve heritage, a vestige of precious love.  I am coming to terms that it's ok to let grief reenter the world, to be through it but not over it. To me, were I "over" grief, I'd be "over" people who shaped my life, my world. Like Davis, I will move back and forth and up and down and over and sideways through different stages of grief for as long as I'm allowed to be here. I am beginning to understand that gif is now, simply, a part of everything I do, everything I say, everything I write. Everything I am.

Tags: first-novel-or-book, made-me-think, read, read-in-2015, rounded-up-in-star-rating, thank-you-charleston-county-library

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like an unusual, but interesting book.
    I can relate to your thoughts on grief. We never forget our loved ones, and we never stop missing them.