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Literature / A Place Called Here

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"Ever wondered where the lost things go?"

A Place Called Here (published in the U.S. as There's No Place Like Here) is a 2006 book by Irish author Cecelia Ahern. It is based on the premise that every object or person that gets lost or missing, winds up in a certain other world, in this case simply called "Here".

Sandy Shortt has been obsessed with finding missing things and people since she was a child. As an adult, living in Dublin, she has turned this into her job: she is a private detective for finding missing people.

Jack Ruttle is a man living in a small Irish town, whose brother Donal has been missing for a year. His family by now have accepted this, but Jack insists on finding his brother. He hires Sandy to do so.

Before they get to meet however, Sandy goes missing herself. She winds up in the place/world where all missing things and people go to, which the people living there (people missing in/from the real world) just call "Here". Sandy goes to live in the community of Here's people, but reluctantly, as she desperately wants to get home to the real world. Then things suddenly start to get lost / disappear from Here, which Here's people find very unsettling because nothing has ever gotten lost from Here (as it is the place lost things turn up in, in itself...) They think this is connected to Sandy.

Meanwhile back in real world Ireland, Jack goes on a hunt to find the disappeared Sandy, while nobody believes she's missing.

This book provides examples of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end, Sandy gets home again, which she wanted; and her finding the missing people she previously hadn't been able to find in the real world, in Here, has given her encouragement and peace of mind. The downer part however is that Jack's brother turns out to have been murdered. That is again softened though because Jack can accept that better, than not knowing at all where his brother is and what happened to him.
  • Black Sheep: Sandy has been feeling like a fish out of water in her family since her childhood, because they don't understand her fascination/obsession with finding lost things. This made her leave her parents and birth town at 18, and as an adult she has a civil, though not really warm relationship with her parents.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Jack notices Sandy is missing, he notifies the police, Sandy's parents and her friends, all of whom shrug it off and say that Sandy always goes away for a few days and she can't be missing. Only after a prolonged time of Sandy still missing and Jack keeping "bugging" people about this, do people realize that Sandy's really gone.
  • Genre Buster: The book is a mix of drama, fantasy and detective, with comedic undertones.
  • I Will Find You:
    • Jack keeps looking for his brother Donal even when the rest of his family have given up on that. He goes through great lengths for this, like hiring Sandy.
    • When Jack hires Sandy, she goes missing herself. Jack then goes on a mission to find Sandy, even though nobody even believes she's missing.
  • Meaningful Name: Inverted. Sandy was called that because at birth her hair had the colour of sand, but as an adult she has natural black hair. And at 185 cm / 6'1", she's quite tall, while her last name is Shortt. She finds her name a bit embarrassing because of this.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Sandy has jet-black hair and is pale.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Sandy is pretty, and she's quite tall.