Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan
|Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An exploration of grief and of the bond between a dog and a human which will leave you unable to put the book down. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: June 2008|
|Publisher: Ebury Press|
Roxanne and Bob Pellegrino met through swimming. She pulled him off the bottom of the pool and he always joked that he'd married a woman who could save him. It was a phrase which was to haunt Roxanne after he collapsed on the bathroom floor. Despite applying CPR she couldn't save him. He was just forty two years old. Distraught with grief in the months afterwards she left her home, her job as a psychologist, her family and moved to Peaks Island off the coast of Maine where she took a job as an animal warden. On the basis that you don't have to say that you're a widow until you're ready, she invented a past which didn't include Bob and her failure to save him.
Some books grab you on the first page and just won't let you go. Roxanne was mildly annoyed with Bob and prepared to have an argument with him. It was nothing serious, just about assumptions made when perhaps they shouldn't have been. Within minutes she was forcing open the bathroom door and the worst months of her life began. It's not the big things that stick in the mind at a time like that; it's the shaving foam still on the neck, the taste of mint toothpaste as she tried to force breath into him. It's asking the paramedics to be careful of his ribs as they try to resuscitate him; he's a vet and has to go to work today.
Running away was probably not the best thing to do but how can a psychologist help others when she's drowning in her own problems? She went as far east as she could to a small island half remembered from childhood, determined to keep herself to herself, not to allow anything to touch her. But in the way of small communities they did. Isaiah, the director of public works on the island, and his wife Charlotte allow her to rent a cottage near the ocean. Neighbour Tess provides support despite not knowing the full story and high-schooler Melissa, an obvious anorexic, awakens her professional instincts.
It's not a person that breaks through the barrier, but a dog, a big black Labrador found lost and injured, with an infected wound from an arrow in his side. It's Roxanne who nurses him back to health after surgery, who helps him to come to terms with the obvious mental trauma he's suffered and who lets the dog touch her heart. There's a mystery though – how did Lloyd, as they call the dog, get shot? Why is no one searching for a dog who's obviously been well cared for in the past? As the mystery unravels Roxanne finds that she and Lloyd are in danger.
There's an exploration of grief which is so vivid it will have you checking the people you love and particularly their diets. It's not just about the loss of a partner – there's the grief of a parent losing a child and the loss of an animal and how it fells us all in different ways. There were parts of the book where I was on the verge of tears but it's not all about grief. Recovery is slow, but it happens. It was the bond between animal and human which tugged at my heart strings for Sheehan has it perfectly – the slow development and its all-consuming nature. Lloyd is given a voice and whilst this could have been twee, it wasn't.
The characters are vivid with enough back history to make what happens completely believable, despite the complexity of their lives, but above all it's a darned good story, with a mystery which unravels and will leave you unable to turn the pages quickly enough. I wish I hadn't read it and then I would still have the pleasure to come.
Look, you might as well just go and buy the book now. It's brilliant and the film rights have already been optioned but I think you'll be better reading the book first. It's likely to be one of those books that catch the public imagination in a big way. It will probably appeal to women more than to men, but not exclusively so and if you're a dog lover it's a guaranteed winner. Tell me if I'm wrong.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
For another book which explores how we come to terms with the loss of a partner we can recommend The Love of My Life by Louise Douglas. If you'd like another book about a black labrador then you must have a look at Life with Beau: A Tale of a Dog and His Family by Anna Quindlen.
You can read more book reviews or buy Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.