Monica Edinger's Reviews > What Was Lost

What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn
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's review
Oct 28, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: adult

This is a fairly short book, but I spent a long time with it because I was listening to it.

This book begins in 1984 as little Kate Meaney wanders about her world of council flats and the Green Oaks mall, taking notes and investigating, a sad little Harriet the Spy. Then it jumps forward to twenty years dead smack in the midst of Green Oaks. Kate, we learn, disappeared in 1984 and no one ever knew what happened to her. Now we follow Kurt, a security guard and Lisa, a music store manager, both terribly sad adult workers in Green Oaks. By the end we learn about them, about some other characters, and about Kate.

The writing is spare and beautiful. I loved the way the author so vividly described the mall, giving it an atmosphere I wouldn't have thought possible. Her rendering of the many workers in Green Oaks is really wonderful. I recall in particular the two who control the garbage area and several of Lisa and Kurt's fellow workers.

Recently there was a thread on one of the children's lit lists (maybe child_lit, can't remember) about the dearth of adult protagonists in books for children. As I listened to the first part of this book I thought about the opposite situation, child protagonists in adult books. This isn't a nostalgic book by any means, but it definitely is for adults. No sex really, but a building and layering of life experiences for various characters in the second part of the book that makes it sad, hopeful, and profoundly moving.
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