Friday, July 24, 2009

What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn (Jill)

What Was Lost
By Catherine O'Flynn
Completed July 24, 2009

In What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn, characters experienced many versions of loss – from deaths to missing friends to lost ambitions and broken hearts. Central to this story is Kate Meaney – a precocious girl who fancied herself a junior detective. One day, she turned up missing. Neighbors and the press blamed Adrian, Kate’s friend, for her disappearance, and he could never shake the community’s suspicions. He ran away, leaving behind his parents and younger sister.

Fast forward 20 years to Kurt and Lisa. Lisa, Adrian’s sister, was the assistant manager of a local music store, and Kurt was a mall security guard who was haunted by the memory of Kate and his deceased wife, Nancy. Lisa and Kurt became friends and then romantically involved, not knowing that Kate’s disappearance would connect them in many ways.

The story of a missing child is never easy to read, and after O’Flynn masterfully showed Kate to her readers, her disappearance made it even harder. Kate was smart, likeable and unforgettable – the kind of girl you root for in a book. You wanted her disappearance to have some closure, despite the sadness.

I can’t say the same for the other characters in this book. O’Flynn was at her best creating Kate – I wished the whole book was Kate’s narrative. The other characters were regular, and their voyage of self-discovery was predictable. Inexplicably, O’Flynn included narratives from anonymous mall shoppers at the end of some chapters, which added nothing to the story.

What Was Lost was the first book by Catherine O’Flynn, and her writing holds a lot of promise. I was not as mesmerized by this novel as other readers, but there were parts of this book that were outstanding. I will definitely read another book by O’Flynn, hoping her future characters spring from that same creative place where she created Kate. It’s there where O’Flynn shines. ( )

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