Allison Winn Scotch’s The Department Of Lost And Found is a captivating read that depicts a young woman battling breast cancer. However, Scotch’s words are inspirational. She relays the message that once we take life into our own hands and hone in on our most authentic selves, we can grasp what’s important and what really matters. And although she’s tackling an emotionally heavy subject matter, her writing style incorporates the perfect blend of humor and lightheartedness that counters the more serious undertones. So if sap and an overtly depressing plot line isn’t what you’re looking for, then do not be deterred.
Natalie Miller, the top aide to an ambitious female senator from New York, is diagnosed with breast cancer. While undergoing a treatment regimen, she’s forced to slow down and forego her workaholic lifestyle. And while doing so, she delves into a state of self-reflection regarding past decisions, failed romantic relationships, and how to proceed once certain discoveries come to light.
Once that occurs, she realizes that, maybe, what she thought she desired — in terms of matters of the heart and her life purpose — isn’t what she’s after, after all. Sometimes, we need a little revamping to open our eyes and see what actually is significant.
What struck me is the pertinent takeaway that life is short. Why wait for a crisis or devastating illness to reexamine priorities? Natalie’s breast cancer instigated a change of heart and a new direction, but we can start fresh even in the absence of such a circumstance.
“When she’s (Natalie) stripped of all the elements that she once deemed important, she has no choice but to take a naked and honest look at herself,” Scotch said in the book’s “Author Insights, Extras, & More.” “When she does that, she discovers that what she was chasing down might not have been the thing that she should have been chasing at all. And in that sense, she truly finds herself and her calling.”
“What I love most is when readers tell me that they didn’t feel like the book was about cancer,” Scotch added. “Rather it is about one woman’s experience as she tries to find her way and that, truly, is the message that I set out to write.”
I particularly liked the employment of the ‘dear diary’ format in various chapters. (Natalie’s therapist suggests that keeping a journal will channel feelings effectively.) It was a smart stylistic choice by Scotch. Diary usage symbolizes the act of introspection, and that’s exactly what the main character hopes to achieve. The reader is able to follow her progress and play therapist, which provokes additional questions as well.
I highly recommend Allison Winn Scotch’s The Department Of Lost And Found if you’re seeking a narrative that’s refreshingly poignant, comedic and identifiable.
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Suval, L. (2014). The Department of Lost & Found. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 6, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-department-of-lost-found/00018860
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Mar 2014
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