Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson

Of Things Gone Astray by Janina MatthewsonOf Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson
Published by The Friday Project on August 28, 2014
Genres: Magical Realism
Pages: 278
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours for review consideration.
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On a seemingly normal morning in London, a group of people all lose something dear to them, something dear but peculiar: the front of their house, their piano keys, their sense of direction, their place of work.
Meanwhile, Jake, a young boy whose father brings him to London following his mother’s sudden death, finds himself strangely attracted to other people’s lost things. But little does he realize that his most valuable possession, his relationship with his father, is slipping away from him.
Of Things Gone Astray is a magical fable about modern life and values and finding the things that really matter.


I love an offbeat read full of magical realism, and Of Things Gone Astray is exactly that. It reads along at a fast clip, with the focus alternating among its characters. For a good portion of the book I found myself wishing each character’s story was placed together, more like interconnected short stories — only because each one was so compelling I didn’t want to change course, even momentarily. But by the end, I could clearly see how Matthewson gently wove them together. The way she crafted this novel was absolutely perfect.

Many of the characters’ losses (and the aftermath of those losses) are spectacularly bizarre. Others are surprisingly realistic, with fantastical double meanings lying beneath the surface. I enjoyed that playfulness, as well as the truths infused throughout.

“Maeve was one of the many who, despite the evidence, didn’t truly believe that Cassie’s transformation would ever be complete. She couldn’t imagine it happening, even though it was, and right in front of her eyes.” (p. 247)

These characters prompt us to explore questions such as: How do we resist change? How do we deal with it? Accept it? When should we accept it, and when should we fight to hold on to what is slipping away? Which people and things keep us tethered when we need it most, when we are the ones in danger of being lost?

And what a great ending! Very satisfying.