by Courtney Elizabeth Mauk
Set against a layered Manhattan landscape, The Special Power of Restoring Lost Things explores a fractured family through the alternating perspectives of the mother, father, and brother of a young woman during the aftermath of her disappearance. A year of silent but collective anguish culminates in the fateful thirty hours after a body with a striking resemblance to hers is found, and we see her buttoned-up Upper West Side family spiral in different, dangerous directions: Her mother, Carol, nearly comatose by day, comes alive at night in a vigilante-like attempt to track down her daughter’s killer. Her brother, Ben, once the “good kid,” adopts her bad habits along with her former friends who may have been complicit in her death. And after failing to keep his family from splitting apart, her seemingly stoic father, Drew, finally allows himself to crack.
In her third novel, Courtney Elizabeth Mauk presents a nuanced character study and offers a jolting and unforgettable portrait of a family’s struggle to survive.
North American publisher: Little A, October 2016
Foreign rights contact: Allison Devereux, Wolf Literary Services
Film/TV rights contact: Kate Johnson, Wolf Literary Services
Mauk writes in a smooth and stirring prose which brings the horror of grief and resentment acutely near. A sensitive portrayal—psychologically powerful but never overplayed, deftly conveying the human truth that not everything turns out OK.”—Kirkus Reviews
Can we ever let our children go? That’s the question that Courtney Elizabeth Mauk asks in her riveting novel The Special Power of Restoring Lost Things. Heartbreaking in its close observation of how each person’s grief is a world unto itself, Mauk’s novel plunges us into loss but also reveals—in tense, evocative prose—the ways grief connects us through its filaments of need. We learn what it’s like to miss something so intensely—through fragments of past conversations that mingle with the present and, in one exquisitely drawn scene, through the brushing of an absent daughter’s hair—that we can almost cross that thin, forbidden membrane that separates the living and the dead.”—Scott Blackwood, author of See How Small
The Special Power of Restoring Lost Things is a compelling portrait of a family caught in a terrible limbo. Mauk draws her characters with insight and sensitivity, weaving a suspenseful tale of a young woman’s disappearance and the chaos and pain left in her wake. A chilling, beautiful novel.”—Cari Luna, author of The Revolution of Every Day
A wise, moving, and suspenseful tale of a New York family struggling to cope in the aftermath of trauma, The Special Power of Restoring Lost Things reveals chilling complexities of maternal love and parental loss.”—Helen Klein Ross, author of What Was Mine
The Special Power of Restoring Lost Things deftly examines the emotional and psychological repercussions for a family left behind by a disappeared daughter. Courtney Elizabeth Mauk paints a powerful portrait of grief, dread, distrust, and—ultimately—redemption as mother, father, and brother try to make sense of a bereft world.”—Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, author of June and New York Times bestseller Bittersweet
The Special Power of Restoring Lost Things, Mauk’s third novel, begins with a mother trying to inhabit the spirit of her daughter, who has been missing for a year. Carol is searching for Jennifer, even taking to wearing her daughter’s clothes as she tries to settle into her life, going to the bars and clubs she frequented. Anything to find a lead. Carol wonders about the parts of her daughter’s life she doesn’t quite understand, even the votive candles in her apartment. She ‘can’t guess why they were there, for art or salvation. She has no idea what prayers might move her daughter’s lips or where she could have learned.’ There is no easy way to learn the secrets of the missing.”—Nick Ripatrazone, Lit Hub, 18 Books You Should Read This October
The Special Power of Restoring Lost Things is an emotional portrait of trauma and its effect on one family. It is not overly wrought, nor is it spare in its details. The characters wrestle with grief in their own ways, and beneath their struggle smolders a slow-burning fuse.”—Necessary Fiction