A Place Called Here is a novel by Cecelia Ahern published in 2006. Sandy Shortt has been obsessed with finding lost things ever since her childhood rival, Jenny-May Butler, went missing. Her parents, concerned for her wellbeing, persuade her to see a psychiatrist about her obsession with finding things, a man named Gregory who soon becomes a romantic interest. Her career is shaped by this obsession; she starts off working for the Garda, the Irish Police force, before setting up her own detective agency that specialises in finding missing people. One day, a man named Jack Ruttle employs Sandy to search for his missing brother, Donal, but on her search for him Sandy disappears too. Jack begins to search for her, discovering more than he bargained for, but it is nothing compared to what Sandy finds, the place where all things lost are found, a place called here.
'Here' is a village set up by missing people, that all missing objects go too. It has no geographical location, nor could it be found or left by choice, the idea is that it is there to comfort those who are missing something or someone. As someone who hates to lose things, it struck a personal note with me, but as for someone who has experienced the disappearance of a person, one can only hope it would have the same effect.
Rather than the typical route of a Cecelia Ahern story, A Place Called Here is less focused on the romantic side of the narrative and more on the actual story which revolves around the idea of what happens to missing things, the obsessive nature of people and the driving force behind it. Sandy's obsession with finding things has stemmed from her experience surrounding the disappearance of Jenny-May and losing things as a child, a natural fear. And while the narrative follows Sandy's story on how she overcomes these obsessions, it also has the underlying subtext of what it must be like to be a relative of someone who goes missing without a trace.
It is an emotive and sensitive subject to explore, but Cecelia does it in a comforting and appealing way. There are many traumatic themes associated with the reasons people can go missing, but Cecelia deals with the issue with her usual magical and innocent way. And while she acknowledges that not everyone does go to Here when they go missing, she doesn't delve too deeply into the subject, as it adds a distressing tangent to the book that is really not necessary.
P.S. I Love You has been described as a comfort to those who have experienced the death of a loved one, and in a way, A Place Called Here sets out to do the same for those with missing loved ones. While the narrative offers a conclusion and a solution to the issue of missing people and things, in reality it is often never that simple. But despite this the book should be received as a help to those struggling with themes raised in the book, as Cecelia really gives the impression she understands what the family and friends of a missing person go through making it a well rounded story. As she says within the novel; "Sometimes that's all people ever need. Just to know."
By Sophie Atherton @SophAthers