Eva Mitnick's Reviews > What Was Lost

What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn
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's review
Mar 02, 2009

really liked it
Read in March, 2009

This is almost a 5 star review, and the only reason it isn't is because I listened to the audiobook edition, which was narrated SO brilliantly by Catherine Skinner that it may well have increased my love for the book. All the action centers around Green Oaks, a shopping mall in Birmingham, and never was a shopping mall such a depressing, cynical, malignant, and soul-deadening character. In one segment of this story, 10-year-old Kate, a very odd yet wonderful loner whose main companion is a stuffed monkey, goes around very seriously looking for crimes to solve - a bit like Harriet the Spy but more focused on crime than on basic human foibles. She is such a compelling character that it's wrenching to move 20 years ahead to the present. Kate has been missing all this time, has in fact turned into an unsolved mystery herself, and a couple sadsack but luckily not entirely hopeless employees at Green Oaks find themselves compelled to find out what happened to her.

Although Kurt (the depressed and grieving security guard) and Lisa (caught in a mindless, go-nowhere job at a record store) are both well-developed - you learn to care about them even as you want to shake them hard and yell at them to get out of Green Oaks before they mummify entirely), it's Kate who is the most alive and charismatic character of them all. She is energetic and focused and weird as all get out - my favorite character in a long, long time. This book resonates.

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