Friday 4 June 2021

The News Where You Are

Finished June 2
The News Where You Are by Catherine O'Flynn

Set in England, this book follows a middle-aged man as he worries about his mom, tries to protect his father's legacy from disappearing, and tries to remember those whom it seems no one else is remembering. Frank Allcroft is a presenter for a program called Heart of England Report that does stories on local news for a large area of England. Frank has been in this role nearly twenty years, and was a reporter prior to that. His father was an architect of the mid-twentieth century, lots of concrete and streamlined shapes and as the book opens the second last of the buildings that he designed has been slated for destruction. Frank's dad died when he was only eleven, but their relationship wasn't a close one. Frank's mom is living in a retirement home and seems disengaged with life, and negative in attitude. 
Frank's eight-year-old daughter Mo, is a lively part of this book, trying to find ways to cheer her grandmother up, looking at things with a viewpoint Frank finds constantly surprising, and generally being a kid who cares about the world around her. 
Some of the stories at Frank's work are about people who died and weren't discovered right away. He has started keeping track of these forgotten people, going to their funerals, and trying to remember them in some way. He can't even really explain why he does it. He's made an acquaintance with a woman who worked in the coroner's office who tried to find next of kin for these people and arranged the clearing out of their belongings.
Frank's predecessor, a charismatic, somewhat self-centered man, named Phil, who had moved on to other shows, was killed a few months ago in a hit and run accident that remains unsolved. 
As we discover more about Frank and about Phil, we see how different they are and how the people that interacted with them both see them. 
One man who came up recently in the news, found dead on a park bench, was Michael Church, a man that Jo is trying to find family for. Frank recognizes Michael's face and works his memory to place how he knew him. Once he does that, he finds himself trying to find out more about Michael, following up various clues to this quiet man. 
I found this book fascinating, joining Frank in wanting to know more about Michael and hoping that his mother would find something that would pull her out of her mindset. It has you thinking about the legacies that people leave when they die, how others remember them, and the lives that they touch. 

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