READALONG! with Judith and Laurie!! possibly (likely) spoilers ahead. Links at end of post…
from the Penguin’s Reader’s Guide website:
In his twelfth novel, following the critically acclaimed bestseller Last Night at the Lobster, Stewart O’Nan demonstrates an uncanny ability to delve into the lives of ordinary, well-meaning people confronting tragedy. Here, in a story of a girl gone missing, he finds the quieter emotional narrative behind the sensational events. O’Nan’s clear, sharp prose and tremendous empathy yields flawed yet heroic characters whose every word and gesture rings true. Defying genre, Songs for the Missing is a remarkable novel that begins as a thriller and widens into an elegiac examination of family, love, and longing.
1. Was this a first read of this author? If yes, will you read more and why? If not, how would you describe his style – is it recognizable? does he work with similar themes or …
I didn’t really like her, to be honest. I do think the author was very skilled to present her as he did; she was what I felt to be a typical teenage girl with the Attitude: a prickly attitude towards her parents, especially. She seemed restless and scared but wouldn’t dare tell anyone she had fears – of the future, leaving home, etc.
I had known that the book was not just a ‘horror about story about what happens to a missing teenaged girl’ but more the reaction from those left behind so I thought it very much delivered what I was expecting. I do think I was afraid the parents might end up on different pages, ie divorce, but I think they were successful with their marriage. They certainly had two approaches to what to do and how to feel but they seemed to be able to respect those differences.
Right, so I knew that O’Nan wasn’t going to focus on the Kim side of the story but I also wasn’t prepared with how it started with her and then shifted totally, almost away from her for the rest of the book. I was not frustrated with the search, I let it play out. I believe I would likely be the type to trust the authorities and/or be in a state of shock and uncertainty to all of it. Then again… It would be so hard not to DO SOMETHING and want the whole world to stop and find the fix, find the girl, make it all OK. So scary.
I could have questions but have actually stopped my mind from going there. But I’ll try here, now. I expect that she came home from the river, took a shower and got ready for work and then drove to the place. It was here that she met the wrong type of asshole and away they went. It must have been timed right after the previous shift left and right before her friend got to work. Which is why I wouldn’t want my daughter to work at any highway roadside convenience mart. Too many skeevy people; too much easy exit access. I bet there is a policy of workers never ever to be alone on the premises and that she likely sent the first shift guy away saying she could handle it.
8. Did you highlight any quotes? Anything else to share?
Excellent character study. Excellent pacing and style. This book has a vague longing, of remembered sadness, a tinge of nostalgia, of hot hazy dusty weather of late summer when you hear the cicadas buzzing… All the little things carried weight; and the reverse as well: the big things that were only sketched out briefly like the drug use issue. He lightly touches on few details here, thereby giving it more attention when the kids thought they had to cover it up.
I did have a few quotes! I love to highlight things that strike me for powerful sentences, oddities, pies &/or lobsters or connections to other books. Here are just a few or you can click on my link to goodreads.com where I store them (so easy to do from the app on my iPhone):
“The detective had asked him if he loved Kim. Immediately JP said yes, on the strength of those feelings, but was that love?” -p.62
“He hadn’t taken off for either of her mistakes, and she felt cheated.” -p.172
“Like every bureaucracy, they protected their own from those they were supposed to serve.” -p.174
“She had no memory of last night’s anxieties, or of Ed coming to bed, just a visceral appreciation for the blank, restorative hours in between.” -p.179
“The most terrible thing in the world, she thought, was how easy it was to forget.” -p. 208
Please click over and read Judith’s thoughts at her Books Books and Books blog as well as Laurie’s thoughts at her Bay State Reader’s Advisory blog.
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