Karma Brown broke my heart and blew me away with her first novel, Come Away With Me, and has been hard at work since then building a reputation for remarkable novels readers can't help but fall in love with. Her latest, The Life Lucy Knew, is no exception, the story of a woman who wakes up one day to realize her life—her experiences, marriage, everything—is all a false memory resulting from a brain injury, and she has to readjust to a world that is completely unfamiliar, right down to the devoted husband she does not even recall falling in love with.
What you might not know about bestselling author Karma Brown is that she's as talented a reader as she is an writer, and so this list of books with similar themes to Lucy being "lost and found" is a particular treat.
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, by Kim Fu
What is lost: A group of girls from Camp Forevermore head out on an overnight kayak/camping trip and end up lost in the Pacific Northwest.
What is found: This novel reads like a collection of linked short stories about each of the girls present that fateful night—who they were before the journey, and who they became after. In a more straightforward novel what may have been lost during the overnight trip was their innocence. But it is slowly revealed that what happens on this harrowing camping trip is not the worst these girls—their characters agonizingly realistic—have been through. This novel is a raw look at the trials and tribulations of coming of age, and while even more heartache is found on the trip, so is hope—because life does go on.
The Boat People, by Sharon Bala
What is lost: The sense of home is lost, as five hundred refugees from Sri Lanka's bloody civil war reach Vancouver's shores. Even those in The Boat People who have not come from away are grappling with a sense of belonging and understanding of the world they live in.
What is found: In the heart of this novel is a message, but it’s gentle and therefore doesn’t hinder the plot. It can be easy to make blanket judgements about people, especially in the age in which we live, but this book offers a new way of seeing things—a plea for balance, which is so very Canadian. Found is the truth about people from all walks of life, and the idea that almost no one is exactly who he or she seems to be on the surface. This is a novel that challenges assumptions and provides a thoughtful gaze upon the current refugee crisis.
Runaway, by Alice Munro
What is lost: So many of the characters in this short story collection are lost, especially Juliet, the recurring character, who finds various ways to escape the frustrations of her life until all she can do is wait for her daughter—who has accomplished what she always wanted to. Almost everyone in the collection if fleeing something, or finding ways to hide.
What is found: The outcome of each story is different but ultimately what all Alice Munro stories provide is a deeper understanding of human nature. At the end of each story, the character draws close…for just a moment. Then the reader understands—even if that moment of understanding is a fleeting one—exactly who the person is. And Munro makes all the people we meet recognizable, which is why she’s such a master at what she does.
The Marrow Thieves, by Cherie Dimaline
What is Lost: In this dystopian young adult novel, the world has been decimated by global warming and the Indigenous peoples are being viciously hunted for their bone marrow, which carries something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream.
What is Found: Frenchie, the book’s young protagonist, is separated from his family and becomes part of a small band of others who work together to survive as they make their way north, each of them searching for and escaping from something different. Despite the rugged and dangerous world, Frenchie discovers community, love, truth and courage. This award-winning book is lean, heartbreaking, and beautiful. Part coming of age and part cautionary tale, The Marrow Thievesalso casts light on Canada’s past treatment of Indigenous peoples.
Walk It Off, by Ruth Marshall
What is Lost: Ruth Marshall, the book’s author and former Degrassi actor, learns an insidious tumour has been growing on her spine for a decade. Thankfully the tumour is benign, but the surgery to remove it is anything but: Marshall ends up losing the use her legs, and faces a long, arduous, and unknown recovery.
What is Found: This memoir is honest, funny (truly!), and heartfelt, and offers a huge dose of perspective. It is an up-close-and-personal look inside a life that has unexpectedly gone sideways—with no guarantees it will right itself again—and how taking ourselves less seriously and focusing on what truly matters might just be the answer to everything.
The Couple Next Door, by Sheri Lapena
What is Lost: Anne and Marco Conti’s infant daughter, Cora, goes missing from her crib one fateful evening while the couple is at the next door neighbour’s, drinking too much and staying too long at a dinner party. Propelled by the blistering pace and constant doubt about who’s actually responsible for little Cora’s kidnapping, this is both a mesmerizing whodunit and an examination of the darker side of marriage.
What is Found: In this domestic thriller, the truth eventually comes out (as it always does) though Lapena delivers it in deliciously tempered bits and pieces, assuring you won’t be able to put the book down once you start. The novel highlights the complexity of relationships, both marital and otherwise, and how explosive secrets—even those kept with the best intentions—refuse to stay buried forever.
We All Love The Beautiful Girls, by Joanne Proulx
What is Lost: On the night Mia and Michael Slate—a perfectly happy and successful couple—learn Michael’s business partner has siphoned their life savings, their teenage son Finn passes out in a snowbank at a party and loses his hand to frostbite.
What is Found: The consequences of both events—losing their savings and Finn’s hand—are devastating, and the previously negligible cracks in the marriage and between family members gape wide open. While there is a profound loss of innocence throughout this book—both of the childhood and marital love varieties—was takes its place is raw and honest strength that vibrates off the page, proving our great capacity for forgiveness.
After hitting her head, Lucy Sparks awakens in the hospital to a shocking revelation: the man she’s known and loved for years—the man she recently married—is not actually her husband. In fact, they haven’t even spoken since their breakup four years earlier. The happily-ever-after she remembers in vivid detail—right down to the dress she wore to their wedding—is only one example of what her doctors call a false memory: recollections Lucy’s mind made up to fill in the blanks from the coma.
Her psychologist explains the condition as honest lying, because while Lucy’s memories are false, they still feel incredibly real. Now she has no idea which memories she can trust—a devastating experience not only for Lucy, but also for her family, friends and especially her devoted boyfriend, Matt, whom Lucy remembers merely as a work colleague.
When the life Lucy believes she had slams against the reality she’s been living for the past four years, she must make a difficult choice about which life she wants to lead, and who she really is.
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