A heartfelt debut middle-grade told from the unique vantage points of a witty typewriter and an introverted boy—for fans of Wishtree and A Rover’s Story.
Being a typewriter is not as easy as it looks. Surrounded by books (notorious attention hogs) and recently replaced by a computer, Olivetti has been forgotten by the Brindle family—the family he’s lived with for years. The Brindles are busy humans, apart from 12-year-old Ernest, who would rather be left alone with his collection of Oxford English Dictionaries. The least they could do was remember Olivetti once in a while, since he remembers every word they’ve typed on him. It’s a thankless job, keeping memories alive.
Olivetti gets a rare glimpse of action from Ernest’s mom, Beatrice—his used-to-be most frequent visitor—only for her to drop him off at Heartland Pawn Shop and leave him helplessly behind. When Olivetti learns Beatrice has mysteriously gone missing afterward, he believes he can help find her. He breaks the only rule of the “typewriterly code” and types back to Ernest, divulging Beatrice’s memories stored inside him.
Their search takes them across San Francisco—chasing clues, maybe committing a few misdemeanors. As Olivetti spills out the past, Ernest is forced to face what he and his family have been running from, The Everything That Happened. Only by working together will they find Beatrice, belonging, and the parts of themselves they’ve lost.
"★ An introverted boy and his missing mother’s cherished typewriter plumb forgotten family stories while journeying toward acceptance in this touching middle-grade mystery. The Brindle family swarms distractedly around seventh-grader Ernest, everyone fixed in their ways until the morning Beatrice, his mom, vanishes. This isn’t the family’s first trauma, but, after “Everything That Happened,” Ernest finds an unexpected ally: Olivetti, Beatrice’s classic typewriter, who explains, “We [typewriters] hold thousands of stories. Worlds full of words.” ... As inanimate narrators go, Olivetti is especially well suited to the task and takes turns with Ernest in lending his perspective to the short chapters. And, as stories about stories go, Olivetti’s and Ernest’s insights about the power of memories, both held and shared, speak volumes. Offering a Where’d You Go, Bernadette vibe, with its unspooling of a youth perspective on the adult world, this melancholic yet hopeful pick will appeal to fans of books with nonhuman protagonists and readers who enjoy emotional stories with alternating perspectives, such as A Rover’s Story and The Lost Library."--Booklist magazine, starred review
"★Debut author Millington skillfully delivers a complex storyline that deals with heavy topics. With plenty of quotable wisdom, richly textured language, and dry humor, this work reads like a classic."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"An ideal pick for readers looking for both honesty and hope."--BCCB
"A lively and tender story about language, archive, and family history, Millington’s debut will keep young readers on their toes. ... Formatted in alternating chapters between Ernest and Olivetti’s points of view, readers will be delighted by the book’s playfulness, as well as its bittersweet look at the power of memory, and how a family can be broken and then healed. A quirky, heartfelt novel."--School Library Journal
"[A] unique debut. Despite the recent appearance of a laptop (“the glossy show-off”), Olivetti has accumulated “an endless amount of memories” working with owner Beatrice. His patient existence is upended when he’s abruptly sold to a pawn shop and Beatrice goes missing... Olivetti’s snarky observations entertain, and the human protagonists’ endearing support for each other’s endeavors paints a worthwhile portrait of community."--Publishers Weekly
“A lovable introvert, a typewriter with a lot to say, and an irresistible mystery come together to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.”–Molly Olivo, bookseller at Child’s Play, Washington, D.C.
"This inventive, clever, well-paced middle-grade novel will type its way right into your heart!"--Paul Swydan, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, Acton, MA