Millie Bird is a seven-year-old girl who always wears red wellington boots to match her red, curly hair. But one day, Millie’s mum leaves her alone beneath the Ginormous Women’s underwear rack in a department store, and doesn’t come back.
Agatha Pantha is an eighty-two-year-old woman who hasn’t left her home since her husband died. Instead, she fills the silence by yelling at passers-by, watching loud static on TV, and maintaining a strict daily schedule. Until the day Agatha spies a little girl across the street.
Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven years old and once typed love letters with his fingers on to his wife’s skin. He sits in a nursing home, knowing that somehow he must find a way for life to begin again. In a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes.
Together, Millie, Agatha and Karl set out to find Millie’s mum. Along the way, they will discover that the young can be wise, that old age is not the same as death, and that breaking the rules once in a while might just be the key to a happy life.
This review is long overdue! Seriously, it’s been sitting in my drafts for over a month (I actually forgot it was sitting there…). This book is quirky and humorous, and a best-seller that has already had much said about it, so I don’t know if I can really bring anything new to the table.
At face value, Lost and Found is the story of seven-year-old Millie Bird, who has been abandoned by her mother at a shopping centre and enlists Karl the Touch Typist, a nursing home escapee, and Agatha Pantha, her reclusive, cranky neighbour, to help her find her.
Although there is a universality to the themes explored in the book – death, abandonment, companionship, love – Davis cleverly looks at each of these and how they relate to each individual character; while these themes are equally relevant to each character, it is executed through circumstances and personal histories.
I particularly loved the chapters from Millie’s point of view. Davis is quite good at getting inside a child’s mind and looking at life from a child’s perspective – this is true not only of Millie, but also of her friend Jeremy (aka Captain Everything). Millie’s yearning for her mother felt earnest, heartfelt, and authentic. It broke my heart whenever Millie left a note for her mum telling her where to find her. It was, in all honesty, the little things that made this book for me, whether it be Millie’s notes, Karl’s letters to his dead wife, or Agatha’s routine. Characterisation is where Davis truly succeeds, making up for the over-the-top and almost slapstick situations the characters find themselves in.
I did find the ending quite abrupt, and although it was a somewhat-satisfying conclusion, I would’ve liked information about Millie’s mum. I also found the play on Agatha Pantha quite irritating after awhile (for those who are unaware, Agathapanthus is a flowering plant that is largely considered to be a weed in Australia). It seemed heavy-handed in an otherwise delicate book.
Please note: this review originally appeared on my blog, What Kim Read Next. It has been reformatted and edited.