Laura Van Den Berg's debut novel, Find Me, boasts an impressive, multi-part story that dives deep into the life of Joy, a young woman who was abandoned as an infant and raised in a series of foster care and group homes. The first part of the novel centers on Joy's life during an inexplicable plague sweeping across the United States: as victims lose their memories and then their lives, Joy realizes she is immune and goes to live in the Hospital, where she and dozens of others are studied in hopes of finding a cure. As the regimented order of the Hospital breaks down, however, Joy finds herself longing for freedom and to find the mother who abandoned her. The second part of the novel follows Joy as she escapes the confinement of experimentation and attempts to cross the country searching for a woman she's never known--and to find herself along the way.
The disease in Find Me is not the focus of Van Den Berg's imagination: it disappears as suddenly and inexplicably as it appeared in the first place. But it is the catalyst that sends Joy out into the world, that ultimately pushes her to find her whole self by remembering that which she has forgotten or perhaps never known. Joy asks, "What is the memory but the telling of a story?" Van Den Berg answers with just that story, told in such elegant prose that the last sentences will leave readers reeling long past the final page.
A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review.
Find Me | Laura Van Den Berg | FSG | February 2015 | Hardcover