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The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen…
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The Luster of Lost Things

by Sophie Chen Keller

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The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller is a very highly recommended whimsical story teeming with feel-good emotions, lyrical writing, and a dash of magical realism.

Walter Lavender Jr. is a twelve-year-old boy who lives with his mother, Lucy, above their bakery, The Lavenders. Walter's ability to find things has been developed because he has been silenced by his motor speech disorder. Because he found it impossible to talk, he observed the world around him. "My whole life, my mouth had been shut and my eyes wide open, and the deeper and darker my silence became, the more I began to sense outside of it - traces of light, shifts in matter, changing undercurrents. As I grew older and it became clear to me that Lucy didn’t perceive what I perceived, it was already just another part of me, and there was nothing so incredible about that. The things I noticed were small and fleeting, easy to miss - scratches or flourishes in reality, clues that pointed the way to the larger truths buried beneath the surface, like the molten ripple along the base of a vase of lilies in danger of tipping over or, when it came to people, the disappointed hiss of something doused before it could be said."

Walter lost his father, an airline pilot, whose plane went missing three days before he was born. While Walter observations of the world have helped him become a master of finding lost things, he is ultimately hoping to find his lost father. Lucy has told him stories about his father and the connection between them and the book that is proudly displayed in the shop. The book brings magic to their bakery, a bakery where the deserts come alive. You can see vol-au-vent mice jump double dutch with licorice ropes and marzipan dragons breathe fire. Walter's life is happy and safe in his limited world - until someone steals the book, causing the bakery to lose its magic. Walter, along with Milton, his golden retriever, must find the missing book and bring the magic back to the bakery.

Walter's search is an archetypal story of a hero on a quest. While seeking the missing book, Walter must leave the safety of his home, go on a long adventure, face adversity, overcome challenges, and return home changed from his journey. As Walter seeks what he has lost, he learns lessons from those he meets. Along with his quest, it also becomes a coming-of-age story for Walter, who makes friends outside of his sheltered home life. This allegorical narrative not only deals with things lost and found, but also deals with our capacity for kindness and how our acts of kindness can ultimately change the lives around us, as well as our own life.

The writing is poetic and expressive, capturing descriptions, emotions, and even humor with grace and beauty. The characters in The Luster of Lost Things are all well-developed. Their descriptions make them all come alive on the page. While I can concede that having twelve-year-old Walter seek out and meet so many strangers on his quest was a bit far-fetched, I must also equally acknowledge that passing many trials is often the case with a hero on a quest. In any event, I liked this story and Walter. I liked Walter's written comments in his notebook along with his observations of the world. The world can always use a good hero story with a touch of magic realism and Sophie Chen Keller has given us just that.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of the Penguin Publishing Group.
http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2017/08/the-luster-of-lost-things.html
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2091739921 ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Aug 13, 2017 |
I love the positive vibes generated by this story. Walter Lavender Jr is a sweet, thoughtful kid who sets out on a mission to find a magical Book that has been taken from his mother’s bakery. The Book is responsible for creating magical desserts that keep Walter’s family bakery in business. I really enjoyed the first third of the story. Once Walter heads out on his adventure, the story really slowed down for me. However, overall I did enjoy The Luster of Lost Things. Thanks to NetGalley and G.P. Putnam’s Sons for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  cburnett5 | Aug 8, 2017 |
Need an escape from today's dire and discouraging headlines? Care to view the world through a pair of fresh, young, observant eyes? Then here is a book for you. 12-year-old Walter Lavender, Jr. struggles with being understood and finding his own voice. Yet, he's masterful at helping others find the lost things of their lives. Maybe, just maybe, in helping others find their lost objects, he may yet find his lost father.

There are magical moments; "a-ha" moments; moments of clever yet simple problem solving - all as observed through young Walter's lens. Watch carefully as this young man find his place in the world - a world large and rich with tremendous possibilities - so many more than the secure world her knew could provide.

I am grateful to author Sophie Chen Keller her publisher - Random House and Goodreads First Reads for having provided an advanced uncorrected copy of this book. Their generosity, however, did not influence this review - the words of which are mine alone.

Synopsis (from publisher's website):

In this story for readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Man Called Ove, when all seems lost, he finds what matters most.

Walter Lavender Jr. is a master of finding. A wearer of high-tops. A maker of croissants. A son keeping vigil, twelve years counting.

But he wouldn’t be able to tell you. Silenced by his motor speech disorder, Walter’s life gets lonely. Fortunately, he has The Lavenders—his mother’s enchanted dessert shop, where marzipan dragons breathe actual fire. He also has a knack for tracking down any missing thing—except for his lost father.

So when the Book at the root of the bakery’s magic vanishes, Walter, accompanied by his overweight golden retriever, journeys through New York City to find it—along the way encountering an unforgettable cast of lost souls.

Steeped in nostalgic wonder, The Luster of Lost Things explores the depths of our capacity for kindness and our ability to heal. A lyrical meditation on why we become lost and how we are found, from the bright, broken heart of a boy who knows where to look for everyone but himself. ( )
  KateBaxter | Jul 13, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0735210780, Paperback)

A fablelike debut for readers of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Rebecca Makkai’s The Borrower, in which a boy with an uncanny ability to find lost objects must embark on his most important search yet in order to save his mother’s enchanted dessert shop, the only place he’s ever called home.
 
There’s only one place in the world that lonely twelve-year-old Walter Lavender Jr. feels at home: The Lavenders, his mother’s unusual West Village dessert shop, where meringues scud through displays like clouds, marzipan dragons breathe actual fire, and the airy angel food cake can make customers pounds lighter.

When the mysterious and magical Book at the heart of the shop vanishes and a landlord threatens closure, it’s up to Walter to find the Book and save the shop. Despite—or because of—a communication disorder that renders him speechless and friendless, Walter has a special ability to find lost things. In fact, the only thing he’s failed to find is his father, a pilot lost in a presumed plane crash at sea before Walter was born.

Accompanied by Milton, his best friend and overweight golden retriever, Walter’s quest will take him around and under New York City, into subway tunnels and soaring over Central Park, from bottle collecting in Chinatown to racing through the Met, and introduce him to the extraordinary and forgotten people of this fantastical city. Along the way he will discover his voice and learn what it means to truly be found.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 26 Mar 2017 00:17:37 -0400)

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