“It’s strange,” he says, swallowing with difficulty, “to miss something you never had.”
There are times you need to read something uplifting, which is not to say that several characters don’t suffer or have sad stories to share. Walter Lavender Jr. is on a quest to save his mother’s enchanted West Village shop, The Lavenders. A special book that is the heart and magic of the place- bringing delicious desserts to life, has gone missing and now a new landlord is going to close the place down. It is all he and his mother have! Walter is a quiet boy who has extreme difficulty in communicating with others, his only safe haven is among the confections, workers, and loyal customers within the shop but in order to save the day, he is going to have to explore the city. For Walter, it’s as terrifying as a dark forest, it’s not easy for someone who struggles to express himself to navigate a city, particularly the hidden side. Gifted at finding lost things, either because of his disability or because he understands the rupture of losing precious objects (or a person) he helps others find all things MIA. If only he could find his own father, a pilot whose plane crashed long ago when he was still within his mother’s womb. The book, the only solid memory of his father, can’t just vanish, not on his watch. Maybe people are never truly lost to us, and it could be the missing book will force young Walter develop connections to others.
There is a special magic that weaves its way throughout the novel, and the story behind the book Walter is trying to locate is lovely. There is a sweetness in his journey, and each of the people he encounters skirt the edges of society. There were moments my heart sighed… oh…the terrible things that befall so many. As he searches parts of the city most ignore and befriends hidden (forgotten) people what better companion than his Golden Retriever Milton? He is stuck in his safety net at the start of the novel, hiding from the world that taunts those who are different, but no one in a bubble ever truly lives. We have to face the ugly to taste the sweetness on our journey, none of us are exempt. “Lucy wishes for my words so much I can see it on her breath like stardust, and I have learned to look away.” That sentence is bittersweet. His brave moments having ended in cruelty, Walter chose silence over speech. We all have disabilities, challenges in disguise, those little life obstacles. How many of us gather our strength and face it only to be laughed at? It’s no shock that Walter needs to feel safe, but it’s vital he climbs the walls he built.
Walter touches everyone, and they too change his life. He listens to stories that beg release, he is the bent ear that comes to the lonely. Some have been abandoned and others have turned their back on cruel life, but what will Walter choose? Will he save his mother’s shop? Will he be able to put the book’s pages back together in time? With the pages come people, and tender stories about their loved ones. Sweet, sweet as his mother’s magical bakery creations. Mark your calendar, this won’t be available until August.
Publication Date: August 8, 2017