Lost & Found (2007)
Lost and Found is a heart-wrenching exploration of one woman’s stunning loss, and her discovery that grief abjures all platitudes; and that catharsis can only come when the heart and spirit learn to love once more. Written by Jacqueline Sheehan, a New England psychologist noted for her essays and the critically acclaimed novel Truth, based upon the life of abolitionist Sojourner Truth, this new trade fiction original is a stunning, shattering work that gently probes the human psyche to unveil a measure of what it takes to re-find oneself in a time of loss.
The first few pages of this novel will shock readers to attention, as Roxanne (Rocky) Pelligrino’s veterinarian husband dies at a stunningly young age – and her life is sent into a tailspin. Author Jacqueline Sheehan notes, “Even though the main character Rocky is a psychologist, she is shattered to the core when her young husband dies suddenly, and she is stunned at her inability to regain her footing. All of her psychological knowledge seems to betray her when she tries to apply the clichéd approaches to dealing with grief. The stages of grief sound hollow to the person stumbling through them.”
In the throes of her anguish, Rocky is seemingly driven mindless, subject only to the powerful emotions driving through her body and soul. She forsakes her practice at a local university and devolves into unspeakable acts of sorrow. Yet, she has enough composure and awareness left to stage a self-intervention, and unable to cope with life without Bob, Rocky leaves town and her job as a psychologist and heads to secluded Peak’s Island, off the coast of Portland, Maine.
There, continuing in this complete departure from life as normal, she becomes the island’s animal control warden and reinvents her past so that it no longer includes the tragic fact of her husband’s death. While scouring the wintry scrubland for strays, Rocky finds a dog with a handmade arrow sticking out of his shoulder. She is drawn to the wounded dog, and in searching for the person (people) responsible for his injuries, she adopts a journey to catharsis, as well.
The dog, whom she dubs Lloyd, helps Rocky open her heart to accept new friends on the island. The first is the sagacious Tess, a synesthete, who has the wonderful ability to attribute colors to numbers and smells to sounds, heightening her already-acute sense of the world. Next, Rocky stumbles upon Melissa, a rail-thin young woman whose tightly-skinned face and baggy track suits – all the better to mask the clatter of her bones – screams out to Rocky about the disorder plaguing her. Melissa is the type of young girl she assiduously avoided in her practice, part of “an unhappy army of girls, defined by skin, bones and grit.” Then there is Hill, the archery instructor Rocky is compelled to search out, driven by the hand-made arrowhead she found embedded into Lloyd’s canine musculature. He holds the key to Rocky’s rediscovery of her body – once so well-developed and strong, now a shell withered by grief and sadness – and his quiet instruction resonate someplace altogether deeper within Rocky’s frame.
Yet the one character most crucial to Rocky’s road to well-being is Lloyd the dog, whose mysterious injury drives her on a quest to unravel that which happened to his missing owner – and how that arrow came to be lodged in his shoulder. The dog becomes her canine companion in overcoming her depression. Sheehan notes, “Animals offer us something more potent than talk therapy because I have seen examples of it often in the lives of my patients. The dog in my novel is a huge presence for both Rocky and the young girl and the dog offers a form of redemption that was not found in the human relationships. Pet-facilitated therapy.” And Lloyd extends his role as spiritual guide past Rocky, to help the young girl next door regain her appetite and passion for life, as well.
When another unexpected twist of fate splits Rocky’s soul asunder once more does she finally claim the power to displace her grief, and grasp for the realization that on her shoulder falls the responsibility to fight for her own moments of joy.
Lost and Found has been published in Italy, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Turkey, Germany and the UK.