As a deadly sickness sweeps across America robbing people of their memories and quickly killing them, Joy, a young woman from Boston, discovers she is immune. She is admitted to a hospital in Kansas where they are looking for a cure and uses her time there to reflect on her life thus far: orphaned at birth, she spent her childhood in a series of foster and group homes; as a young adult she was working in a grocery store before the sickness and nursing an addiction to cough syrup. Life in the hospital is monotonous and routine, but by chance while watching a series of documentaries she learns that her mother is an underwater archeologist living in Florida. As life in the hospital starts becoming less and less pleasant, Joy manages to escape. The novel is broken into two books, the first about life in the hospital, the second about Joy’s almost surreal journey to Florida with her former foster brother as she searches for her mother.
Despite the post-apocalyptic backdrop, Find Me is a beautiful and sensitive story. A bit sad, but only because Joy is lost and sad; a young woman searching for her mother as the world tries to repair itself. The language is lyrical and introspective, exactly what I would have hoped for from van den Berg, already an acclaimed short story writer (The Isle of Youth and What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us).