ISBN #: 978-0525954686
Page Count: 320
Copyright: January 22, 2015
Publisher: Dutton Adult
(Taken from Amazon)
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.
When I first began reading this novel, I was a little thrown. I don't know many seven-year-olds who act as Millie does. Millie is odd and, at first, she kind of rubs you the wrong way. Why is this little girl so peculiar? But then, as you continue reading, she grows on you and her quirkiness is really quite endearing. Her story is terribly sad with her father dying and her mother abandoning her with no explanation. When Millie finds Karl, though, her life begins to turn around ... although she doesn't know it yet.
Karl is a lonely old man whose wife's passing has put him in a fugue. He's no longer sure what to do with himself. He just knows that he wants to live. He wants to do more than just SAY he's going to do something. He actually wants to put his words into action. He's about a week into this new existence he's created for himself when Millie happens upon him. Millie's forthrightness forces Karl to open up and take action like he's always dreamed of but never dared.
I think Agatha is my favorite of the three. Her first impression upon us is that she's bitter, unhappy, and cruel to those who are trying to care for her. She has been stuck in her ways for seven long years since her husband passed. Once again, Millie's appearance changes things for someone ... this time, Agatha.
The three together seem like an odd entourage, but their characteristics and personalities work really well together, even in their disagreements. The more I read of this novel, the more I really liked these characters. Written in third person, the reader gets to know each of these three in depth. You feel their pains. You get to know them personally and your heart is drawn to them.
I really enjoyed this novel and, while I wish the author would've written how the three got out of the final scrape they found themselves in, I am grateful for the epilogue the author provided at the end. It helped give a sense of finality to the story and provided me with a sense of satisfaction.
*A physical copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.