A fellow PhD student passed this novel on to me to inspire hope. Brooke Davis wrote her debut novel Lost & Found as part of her PhD at Perth’s Curtin University, and it’s a success story for all those creative writing PhDs like me.

The novel is set in Australia and switches between the perspectives of Millie Bird, a seven-year-old who has a preoccupation with dead things, Agatha Pantha, an eighty-two-year-old woman who’s become a hermit after her husband died, and Karl the Touch Typist, an eighty-seven year old man who escapes from his nursing home. When Millie is abandoned by her mother in a shopping centre, she befriends Karl and Agatha and together (with a mannequin called Manny) they set out across Australia to find her mother.

Davis explores grief, friendship, and how old age is not the end of the world in a quirky and heartwarming way. The characters are unique representations of ages that are not often presented in fiction, and I liked the odd mix of action and literary drama. It’s obvious a lot of thought (and PhD research) went into the crafting of this novel, and it deserves the critical acclaim it’s received.