Monday, September 18, 2017

G904 Book Review of the luster of lost things by Sophie Chen Keller

Name of Book: The Luster of Lost Things

Author: Sophie Chen Keller

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1078-3

Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons

Type of book: Bakery, good deeds, connections, New York, journey of one day, subway, denizens of underworld, speech impediment, dogs, Golden retrievers, relationships, kindness, small deeds, friendships

Year it was published: 2017


In this story for readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Man Called Ove, when all seems lost, he finds what matters most.

Walter Lavender Jr. is a master of finding. A wearer of high-tops. A maker of croissants. A son keeping vigil, twelve years counting.

But he wouldn’t be able to tell you. Silenced by his motor speech disorder, Walter’s life gets lonely. Fortunately, he has The Lavenders—his mother’s enchanted dessert shop, where marzipan dragons breathe actual fire. He also has a knack for tracking down any missing thing—except for his lost father.

So when the Book at the root of the bakery’s magic vanishes, Walter, accompanied by his overweight golden retriever, journeys through New York City to find it—along the way encountering an unforgettable cast of lost souls.

Steeped in nostalgic wonder, The Luster of Lost Things explores the depths of our capacity for kindness and our ability to heal. A lyrical meditation on why we become lost and how we are found, from the bright, broken heart of a boy who knows where to look for everyone but himself.


Walter is an intelligent young boy who is suffering from a speech impediment and who is thoughtful, observant and extremely determined.Walter is also joined by Milton, an overweight golden retriever who is Walter's loyal companion and seems to know more than he lets on. Other companions join in such as Ruby, a girl about Walter's age who is also helpful, sweet although a bit domineering and often comes in second especially when compared to her special needs sister Debbie. There is also Junker, a man who creates things out of junk, Karl is a man who misses his wife, Nico has lost his motivation, and Lan is an immigrant struggling with English.


We are more connected than divided


The story is told in first person narrative from Walter Lavender Jr.'s point of view. On the surface the story is simple; that of a boy searching for a magical book to help his mother's beloved bakery, but underneath an untold layer of complexity exists of finding one's voice as well as doing good deeds for others and loving yourself for whom you are. For me the story has elements of Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford which also has character searching for answers, but then the story also has elements of my favorite foodie novels by Erica Bauermeister in that it shows human connections through book pages and how we are far more united rather than divided, an important message to remember in this day and age.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Sophie Chen Keller was born in Beijing, China, and was raised in Ohio and California. Her fiction has won several awards and has appeared in publications such as Glimmer Train (where her first short story was published when she was fifteen) and Pedestal. After graduating from Harvard, she worked in the fashion industry and in brand consulting before leaving to pursue her dream of writing. She currently resides in New York with her husband and a not-so-secret cabinet of sweets.


I am happy to report that my expectations for the novel were met and in some cases even exceeded what I expected. From the summary I expected for the story to have similarities to Monday Night Cooking School/ The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister, which it does in that it shows connections Walter has to people he meets, and it also shows how simple and small things can mean a whole lot for a person, much more than grand gestures. What I didn't expect is to compare the book to Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford in that both novels share a young man's journey with different messages at the end. For a warm and sweet novel to help restore one's faith in humanity, this is the right one to turn to.

This was given to me for consideration and honest review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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