Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release: August 8th 2017
Received: Penguin First to Read
I received early access to the Luster of Lost Things through the Penguin First to Read Program; reviews aren’t required but are preferred. In exchanged for getting access to it ahead of time, I am leaving an honest review.
The Luster of Lost Things is Keller’s debut novel, and it’s one she should be proud of. Described as reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night and A Man Called Ove, The Luster of Lost Things describes a boy who finds himself through finding lost objects. It’s a nostalgic and unpolluted story, showing us a boy’s pure perspective of the world around him.
Walter Lavender Jr. is named for his father, a man who disappeared before he was born. Considering this, it’s only natural that Walter turned to finding lost things for people. Walter believed that in searching for one thing, you often found something else along the way. The hope was if he searched for other people’s things enough, eventually he’d find a clue about his father. Despite this very complex way of thinking – Walter can’t actually tell you most of this himself. You see, even at the age of twelve he has trouble talking, and has to rehearse and practice specific sayings, just to get by in his day to day life.
Walter’s search for lost things is both charming and endearing. Yes, Walter is helping people out of the goodness of his heart, but he also truly believes that by helping people, he can help himself. Some may perceive this as selfish, but I disagree. Given what we’re shown of Walter, it’s clear he’s driven to help these people, beyond any selfish reasoning.
Ironically, a good chunk of book is spent with Walter searching for something his family lost (or had stolen, it gets complicated quickly), the book. The book is a magical book full of drawings, and it is vital for the bakery shop to keep running. Literally – without the book the store has no magic. No magic means no customers, and no customers means no store (it doesn’t help that the new landlord appears to be completely heatless).
Walter’s journey for the lost book forces him to meet with and actually talk to many strangers; most of them being worse off than him, and very much in need of a little bit of help. He meets people who are forced to collect cans for change, homeless people, people who live in tunnels, a man who collects abandoned items, a woman desperate to connect with her nephew, a man frayed from the loss of his wife, a girl in need of a friend. They all need Walter’s help to heal, and in turn they all help Walter find a piece of himself.
I’ve always been a big fan of introspective characters, and Walter Lavender Jr. is probably one of the more pensive ones I’ve seen in a while. Adding his age to the mix just makes it even more impressive, in my mind. His thought journal is full of beautiful and poignant observations and was a perfect touch on the author’s part.
I actually don’t read many books like this – as I rarely get in the mood for them (if not done right I find myself feeling more depressed than inspired), but in this case I’m happy I decided to give it a try. If you’re looking for a nostalgic read then this is the book for you.