Learn About What Matters Most in “Of Things Gone Astray”
In Janina Matthewson’s novel Of Things Gone Astray, her characters—and the readers—learn what is truly important in life. Thanks to a dash of magic, some of Matthewson’s characters all wake up and realize they’ve lost something, whether it is their sense of direction, their work place, or their piano keys. Meanwhile, a young boy named Jake finds himself oddly attracted to the things that people have lost, although he’s oblivious to the fact that what matters most to him is slipping away.
This quirky novel muses on the nature of identity and explores what happens when the person or thing that defines you is suddenly gone. Suddenly, you’re forced to either change how you identify in order to move forward or flounder in the past. However, instead of going for the usual items that would cause such an identity crises, what Matthewson’s characters lose is different because they don’t consciously realize that they’re attached to it. The theme of loss also connects back with Jake, who is visiting London with his father after his mother has passed away. While the young man is a magnet for lost objects, he is losing focus on what is important, namely his crumbling relationship with his father.
Of Things Gone Astray teaches us that it’s not what you own that builds your identity, but the people in your life, and that it’s important to cherish them over material objects that can be easily replaced.