Lost and Found by Brooke Davis

9780525954682_p0_v2_s260x420Brooke Davis offers a humorous and thoughtful view of death, grief, and growing old in Lost and Found.  Motivated by the sudden death of her mother, the Australian author uses the voice of Millie Bird, an abandoned seven year-old, to examine loss. Millie’s mantra may seem harsh, but it is also reassuring:

You’re all going to die. It’s okay.

The story revolves around three main characters and a mannequin:  Millie Bird, a seven year old with an unusual interest in death  – abandoned by her widowed mother in the ladies underwear department; Karl the Touch Typist, an elderly refugee from assisted living, still mourning the death of his wife; Agatha Pantha, an 82 year old recluse, bitter over the death of her unfaithful husband; and Manny, the life-sized store dummy dressed in an Aloha shirt.

The four fugitives connect and start a road trip in search of Millie’s mother.  Led by the perspicacious Millie, who has dubbed herself superhero Captain Funeral,  the elders discover strength in breaking the rules – they are not dead yet.   As she changes voices, from the wise young heroine to the two adventurous elderly protectors, Davis observes and philosophizes about old age and death – and inserts a variety of irreverent scenes for comic relief.   The ending is hopeful and realistic, but not happy.

Davis includes her journal article “Relearning the World” in the appendix of this short tale (289 pages), offering clear insights into her mindset as she wrote the book. Telling the story as a seven year old gave her permission to be funny and quirky while revealing a thoughtful perspective on a difficult topic.