Monday, October 31, 2011

Reliving her past

Things are not going well for Natalie Miller.
The 30-year-old political aide has spent all her time building her career, and she's in the position she wants to be.
Until she's diagnosed with breast cancer and the man she's been living with announces she's leaving.
Say hello to the heroine of Allison Winn Scotch's "The Department of Lost & Found."
In between her treatments, she's determined to track down her past relationships to discover just what went wrong. And she logs her progress in a journal her therapist has urged her to keep.
Lost & Found is alternately funny and heart-wrenching, but never sappy.

Read an excerpt of "The Department of Lost & Found" here.

Natalie is the kind of friend I'd like to have - sarcastic, somewhat self-absorbed, insecure - a lot like a lot of us. Her diagnosis forces her to examine a lot of things she'd rather have not to look at. As she notes:
I needed another hit, so after gagging on my pill and eventually swallowing it, I moved back to my computer screen and leaned over my elbows and stared. Stared for a good twenty minutes until my sight grew fuzzy and the muscles between my shoulder blades ached. I straightened up and ran my fingers through my hair. Clumps. For the first time, it wasn't strands, five here, twenty there. It was a massive, heart-sinking, spine-chilling clump. Whether or not I had evidence that Taylor was screwing hookers had no effect on my cancer or my impending baldness. Nothing it seemed, not even the fleeting rush of victory, would slow that down.

Her story got me to thinking: Can we ever force ourselves to take the kind of timeouts prompted by things like serious illness or accident or divorce, without the trauma? Or are we incapable of maintaining that kind of introspection?
What do you think?

- Tricia Ambrose 


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