Imagine going to a state fair hopped up on some kind of hallucinogen.
The merry-go-round horses lift their feet higher than usual. The bumper cars seem to crash into each other with more force. Grab some cotton candy and rush into the House of Mirrors, where your waist is tinier than ever. This craziness describes how Laura van den Berg’s debut novel, Find Me, made me feel: the senses come alive in unexpected ways. Her narrator, Joy Jones, spends Part I in a hospital where a team of specialists is doing research on the survivors of an epidemic that causes people to lose their memories. In Part II, Joy, who was abandoned as a baby, escapes from the hospital and heads for Florida in buses to search for her biological mother, meeting a slew of strange characters along the way. As Joy tries to make sense of trauma from her foster care days, the reader realizes the real theme of Find Me is that it’s okay to feel incomplete because the feeling drives us to keep looking for something within ourselves to fill the void. I enjoyed the details and frenetic pace of this novel, written by a very imaginative former Grub Street teacher of mine, who has become the darling of the literary media.