Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book review: Lost & Found by Jaqueline Sheehan

I have always loved books when people live on islands, and especially if they are suddenly there and have to create a new life for themselves.  When I was a kid it was Robinson Crusoe, later more modern day tales of people running away from something or seeking solitude or a new kind of life.  This book fits that trend as well, and takes place on an island outside the city of Portland in Maine in the US. 

A woman is suddenly widowed and decides to change her life, at least temporarily, by moving to a tiny island where nobody knows her.  She applies for, and gets, the part-time Animal Warden job, which is mostly catching the cats the summer tourists left behind when vacation is over, but also dealing with skunks and racoons. 

One day an injured dogs shows up, shot with an exquisite homemade old-fashioned arrow in the shoulder.  Nobody claims the dog, so the animal warden takes it in and fosters it back to health.  The mystery deepens and eventually the story is sorted out.  There are many wonderful characters in the book, including an older woman with synesthesia and a teenage girl with anorexia.  I won't tell you more about the story here, because then I spoil it for you.

This is a really well-written book, and it could have become a shallow, sappy, and superficial romantic story, but it is not.  The descriptions of the characters are great, and describes how people think and feel in depth.  The author is a psychologist and it shows (in a good way).  Even if part of the book is really sad, in the end it is a feel-good book that is easy and fast to read. 

Just two things bother me, and it has nothing to do with the author and her writing.  Whoever put a brown labrador on the cover hadn't read the book, or just wanted any good dog photo on the cover.  The dog in the book is a black lab.  And, the symbol at the beginning of each chapter in the book is a golden retriever, not a lab. I grew up with labradors, and there is a big difference between the two breeds. Goldens are more air-headed, and were never good hunting dogs.   Another major design flaw.  Harper Collins, shape up.  Details like this matter - I like factual accuracies, not sloppiness.

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