Welcome to the first OuttaGum book club! Each month we’re going to have a review of a book and some questions to prompt discussion. Come and join in the conversation with us, or just read along as we do! We’ll let you know what book is next a month in advance, hopefully giving you plenty of time to read it. That being said reviews will try to omit any Snape-Killed-Dumbeldore level spoilers so even if you’re a little behind feel free to at least have a look at that.

Without further ado we’ll start with this months book, Lost and Found by Brooke Davis.

Death is a strange beast. It is often talked about in lofty and intangible terms, pleasantries and platitudes designed to comfort and caress those left behind. Death is given a strange reverence among the living, with many refusing even to acknowledge that it lingers behind us always. How then does one approach grief? How does a child, ill suited to such comfort, understand what is going on and respond to it? With such a gruesome topic as death and grief you may be wondering how this book can be so charming, so lovely, so heartwarming and yet so true to the nature of what grief is.

Here then we meet Millie, a 7 year old child whose father has passed away. She has been fascinated by dead things long before her father becomes one, the 28th one to be exact. Mille is waiting for her mother who has left her in a shopping centre next to the ginormous undies and just hasn’t come back yet. Millie Bird lets her know that she’s ‘IN HERE MUM’ so she can find her. When she gets tired of waiting she sets out to find her mother herself.

In the course of doing so she meets up with equally eccentric pals, Karl the Touch Typist, aptly named for his tendency to touch type on every surface available, to touch type in his sleep even, conversations with his dead wife. He had only recently escaped for the nursing home and befriends Millie in the shop where he too has been hiding out. Along the way they pick up Agatha Pantha, the kind of old lady who hasn’t left the house in years, who sits in her window and yells at children to get off her lawn, at passer-bys to get off her path, at the world really just for the bother that it exists.

With unusual charm and insight for a debut writer, Brooke manages to capture a heartwarming journey to find Mille’s mum, to find Agatha’s heart and to explore what it is to be human and so temporarily exist on this planet. Millie is a wonderful girl, a girl who writes poems when she walks and seeks to educate the world that death is okay, that death happens and that we need to accept it. For a girl of 7, she really knows her stuff, a mix of naivety and charming innocence and somber insight that we could all learn from. On behalf of us all, thank you Captain Funeral!

Book Club Conversation Points:

Did you enjoy the book?

Did you find the characters believable? Were you able to suspend disbelief?

Did this book make you reconsider your position on death? If so how?

What character did you identify most with and why?

Write us a walking poem.

Join us next month with Us by David Nicholls. Get reading!