Title: “Songs for the Missing”
Author: Stewart O’Nan
Format: Paperback ARC
Number of Pages: 287
Date of Publication: November 2008
4 stars: What would you do if your child went missing?
“The first person her mother called was Nina.
The second was J.P.
The third was Connie at the hospital.
The fourth was the police.” (*pg 15)
I admit that I’ve been putting off reading this book. By reading the back blurb I could tell that it would be a depressing read. “Songs for the Missing” is the story of a girl named Kim, and what happens to her family, friends, and community when she goes missing. Neither I, nor anyone in my family, have ever had to experience the disappearance of a friend or family member, for which I am extremely thankful- especially after reading this book. I cannot imagine going through what Kim’s family did.
My issues with this book were few and far in between– oddly enough mainly the beginning and the ending. I felt that we were overloaded with details in the first few pages. It was too much at once, and I really had to push through them. It did pick up after that, and I found it hard to put the book down. As for the ending, I would have preferred if the book had ended without the last two chapters. To me they felt if they had just been tacked on as an afterthought. They weren’t bad, just different, and maybe unnecessary. (Just my opinion of course.) My only other problem with the book was the shift of point of view in the chapters. It at times felt jarring, and took a minute to figure out who was telling the story. However, it was enlightening to see through the eyes of different characters. I particularly found J.P’s (Kim’s boyfriend) point of view the most interesting.
The story itself was hard to read at times. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for somebody who has had a disappearance of a friend or family member. I got teary-eyed at a couple of spots. The grief, the denial, the searches, the fliers, the volunteers… it was a lot to take in. O’Nan’s use of details make us feel like we are there– you can feel the bushes scrape your leg as you search through the wood, your heart leaps into your throat everytime the phone rings… But from tips to clues, to trying to guess who was guilty-if anyone- overall I felt the story flowed nicely. Even more interesting was the metamorphosis of Kim’s sister and parents.
I think I would recommend this book, so long as the person is aware of the subject matter and believes they can handle it. This is the first of O’Nan’s work that I’ve picked up, but I will definitely be looking for some of his others. (From the back cover: Stewart O’Nan is the author of eleven novels, most recently Last Night at the Lobster, a story collection, and two works of nonfiction. He lives with his family in Connecticut)
*These lines may change in the final publication of the book.
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