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The Library of Lost and Found

Review

The Library of Lost and Found

THE LIBRARY OF LOST AND FOUND by Phaedra Patrick takes readers through the tragedy of loss and the magic of recovery and discovery.

Martha Storm habitually lives for others and puts very little care into herself. Every space in her home is cluttered with all the projects she has taken on as favors to others. In her 20s, she was faced with a hard decision: join her boyfriend in New York or remain in Sandshift to care for her ailing mother and father. With her love pulling her in two directions, Martha sacrificed her personal happiness to tend to her sick parents through the end of their lives.

The novel’s main story arc belongs to Martha. She has reached middle age, and is lonely and overwhelmed. A mysterious stranger leaves a book that is addressed to her outside of the town’s library where she volunteers. It contains stories that Martha and her nana had created to share with one another when she was young. The mystery behind these old tales being printed in this format deepens when she realizes that her grandmother signed the book two years after she died.

"While Martha has dealt with the loss of her old love, her parents, her grandmother and her sense of self, THE LIBRARY OF LOST AND FOUND focuses on discovery."

We then follow the emotional journey of Martha’s mother, Betty. Betty is constantly caught between her serious husband, who keeps militant control over the whole house, and her fun-loving, wild-card mother, Zelda. She wants to do the best for her daughters, and the conflicting advice from her husband and mother leaves her perpetually torn. As a child, Martha spends much of her time analyzing the complex relationships of her family by writing fairy tales about them. From a young age, she is enraptured by her grandmother’s confidence. When she loses her nana, she loses her desire to produce stories.

Martha’s fairy tales are placed throughout the novel, and each connects to her past and her present, with titles such as “The Bird Girl,” “The Lion and the Unicorn” and “The Puppet Maker.” The book of her stories is spread far and wide by word of mouth and copies with little notes on top that say “Read me, I’m yours.” With each person who hears these tales, they become less personal to her family and are able to counsel complete strangers. Martha becomes obsessed with learning about the origins of the book and the circumstances surrounding her nana’s note.

While Martha has dealt with the loss of her old love, her parents, her grandmother and her sense of self, THE LIBRARY OF LOST AND FOUND focuses on discovery. Throughout the novel, Martha discovers real friendships in the relationships she takes for granted. She lives by her to-do lists that are neatly written out in her Wonder Woman notepad. Once she realizes that her life needs a change, she tasks herself with regaining her subjectivity and to stop living a life dictated by others. She learns to write her own story again.

Reviewed by Julianne Holmquist on March 29, 2019

The Library of Lost and Found
by Phaedra Patrick

  • Publication Date: March 26, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Park Row
  • ISBN-10: 0778369358
  • ISBN-13: 9780778369356