After Millie Bird's father dies, she tries to understand death to the point of keeping a record of dead things. Millie's mother has trouble adjusting to being a widow. One day she takes Millie to a department store and leaves here there. Millie is sure her mother will return, but as the days wear on it looks less and less likely.
In the department store cafeteria, Millie meets Karl the Touch Typist, an escapee from a nursing home. Karl helps Millie escape from the department store security staff. Millie doesn't want a foster family. She wants to find her mother. She and Karl set off across Australia with Millie's neighbor, Agatha, to locate her mother.
The characters are a strange crew. Millie is the most attractive. You can't help but feel compassion for a seven-year-old abandoned by her mother. Karl is trying to live a full life in his last years. Agatha is my least favorite character. She is reclusive, spending her time before the trip in her house yelling at passersby. I couldn't relate to her.
The book explores the themes of death, loneliness, and disappointment. If you can get by some of the oddities of the characters, the author has a good grasp of the issues. I recommend reading the Acknowledgements at the end of the book where the author explains how she came to write the book. She lost her mother in freak accident when she was a child. This tragic experience is what makes Millie such a sympathetic character.
I have mixed feeling about the book. I enjoyed the opening scenes with Millie and Karl, but I felt the storydeteriorated when Agatha joined them in the search for Millie's mother. If you like quirky characters, you may enjoy this book, but it's not for everyone.
I reviewed this book for Net Galley.