After two acclaimed story collections, Laura van den Berg brings us Find Me, her highly anticipated debut novel—a gripping, imaginative, darkly funny tale of a young woman struggling to find her place in the world.
Joy has no one. She spends her days working the graveyard shift at a grocery store outside Boston and nursing an addiction to cough syrup, an attempt to suppress her troubled past. But when a sickness that begins with memory loss and ends with death sweeps the country, Joy, for the first time in her life, seems to have an advantage: she is immune. When Joy's immunity gains her admittance to a hospital in rural Kansas, she sees a chance to escape her bleak existence. There she submits to peculiar treatments and follows seemingly arbitrary rules, forming cautious bonds with other patients—including her roommate, whom she turns to in the night for comfort, and twin boys who are digging a secret tunnel.
As winter descends, the hospital's fragile order breaks down and Joy breaks free, embarking on a journey from Kansas to Florida, where she believes she can find her birth mother, the woman who abandoned her as a child. On the road in a devastated America, she encounters mysterious companions, cities turned strange, and one very eerie house. As Joy closes in on Florida, she must confront her own damaged memory and the secrets she has been keeping from herself.
The debut novel from van den Berg brings the lightly speculative touch to real-world longing that characterizes her collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us and The Isle of Youth, but against an apocalyptic backdrop that, at first, feels all too familiar. As a mysterious illness spreads across the world, a 19-year-old orphan girl called Joy Jones is living as ward of the sinister Hospital, along with other immune children, subject to the strange experiments of Dr. Bek, whose interest in Joy extends beyond medical inquiry. Indeed, amid an "epidemic of forgetting," Joy fights for her memories of life, and hopes to be somehow reunited with her mother, whom she believes to be a nautical detective, a finder of lost ships, operating off the coast of Florida. Hoping to escape the fate of the Hospital's other residents and nurtured by rumors of the outside world, Joy journeys from Kansas City to Florida, chasing visions alongside her only companion, a boy in a rubber mask named Marcus. This post-Hospital half of the novel plays to van den Berg's strengths, with wild excursions into dangerous new environments populated by memorable oddballs, never losing sight of the emotional core of Joy's quest. The earlier chapters are hampered by future-isms that are clich and conclusions that feel tedious or foregone but in Joy, van den Berg has created a voice that never feels false, only lost and dreaming of being found.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Could've been better
Nothing happens in the end...waste of time
This book left me disappointed
This book started out so interesting and keep moving at a good pace. Then at the half-way point it took a turn for the worse with no recovery. The ending was pointless.