Ryan Murdock's Reviews > Lost

Lost by Cathy Ostlere
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In September 1995 the Cathy Ostlere' brother David sets out with his girlfriend in a twenty-eight foot sailboat to cross the 1,200 empty ocean miles between Ireland and Madeira, telling only Cathy in order to protect their parents from worry. More than two months pass with no contact. When a family tradition is missed, David’s sister suddenly realizes that they are lost.

The narrative begins with those first few days of waiting for a phone call that never came. It tracks back and forth through time, exploring childhood events and later happenings as Ostlere’s search for her brother takes her from prairie Canada to Madeira, Ireland and Scotland. In this movement between present and past, the order of events is not chronological. Rather, they ebb and flow as memory does, with each reminiscence sparked by a smell, the sight of a piece of clothing, or a phrase overheard by chance. The author’s search drives the book forward, but it is that exploration of where past and present, memory and future, meet which drives the book deeper.

As she reaches the end of her narrative, the search for a missing brother has rippled out to have broader and unexpected implications for Ostlere herself, her marriage, and her family. The reader is left with a compelling exploration of what it means to be lost – both literally and as a state of mind. In a book which blurs the lines of temporality, it’s fitting that by the conclusion we’re never sure which is which.
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