on January 22nd 2015
Published by DUTTON
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
An irresistible debut novel about the wisdom of the very young, the mischief of the very old, and the magic that happens when no one else is looking. Millie Bird, seven years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her curly hair. Her struggling mother, grieving the death of Millie’s father, leaves her in the big ladies’ underwear department of a local store and never returns. Agatha Pantha, eighty-two, has not left her house—or spoken to another human being—since she was widowed seven years ago. She fills the silence by yelling at passersby, watching loud static on TV, and maintaining a strict daily schedule. Karl the Touch Typist, eighty-seven, once used his fingers to type out love notes on his wife’s skin. Now that she’s gone, he types his words out into the air as he speaks. Karl’s been committed to a nursing home, but in a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes. Now he’s on the lam. Brought together at a fateful moment, the three embark upon a road trip across Western Australia to find Millie’s mother. Along the way, Karl wants to find out how to be a man again; Agatha just wants everything to go back to how it was. Together they will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself feel sad once in a while just might be the key to a happy life.
- Her mom told her to wait for her in the women’s underwear department so that’s what she’s going to do. If she has to move, she’ll leave notes so her mom can find her. She’s been waiting for days now.
- Fascinated with dead things like her dog Rambo, flies, and now her Dad.
“Every one knows everything about being born, and no one knows anything about being dead.“
Karl the Touch Typist
- On the run from his nursing home and so far no one has noticed
- Steals typewriter keys and a mannequin
- Lost since his wife died
“They lived such a small life. Trees and flowers and ocean and neighbors. They never scaled mountains, or braved rapids, or went on telly. They never ate strange animals in Asian countries. ….
But they had loved. They grew plants, drank tea in the afternoon light, waved at neighbors. They watched Sale of the Century every night and, together, were reasonably accomplished at it…. Their life was a twenty-kilometer radius around their house.”
- Maintained a strict schedule inside her house for the last seven years
- Main entertainment is yelling judgements at strangers she sees through the window
“He clutches a mobile phone to his ear like a life preserver.What are you saying on that thing? she says. What do children have to say to other children? “Fred, I didn’t wet myself last night?” The boy shakes his head. You’re crazy, lady, he says as he turns and keeps walking. In my day, teenagers didn’t exist! she announces to his retreating back. You were a child until you were two and then you were an adult!”
Now they are on the run together, trying to find Millie’s mom before the police find them. The three of them understand and compliment each other in ways none of them could have expected.
Read it! Go now! The insights in the writing are wonderful. As I reading I kept thinking of the word “profound” and it is that without being heavy.