Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan - Book Review

Songs for the Missing is not the story of Kim Larsen, recent graduate bound for college. Even though the story opens in her viewpoint, she’ll soon be silenced. And all that will be left behind is her memory. Her parents, sister, boyfriend, friends and community will begin a massive search for her. It’s their songs Stewart O’Nan wants us to hear.

Her mother and father will struggle and falter for a time before they grow into advocates. Her boyfriend will wrestle with guilt and her friends will worry about saving themselves. Her sister will grow from a fifteen year old in the shadow of her older sister to a young woman forever transformed by the time her sister was missing.

This reviewer’s not read any other Stewart O’Nan novels, but will surely be looking to read a few more. The thing Mr. O’Nan does best is tell the story in a matter-of-fact tone that is both tight and unsentimental. This is a rare skill for today’s novelists; one I truly appreciate. The story takes place over a number of years, but the passage of time passes effortlessly for the reader. Because it is so tight, I suspect that some will feel that it lacked something in depth, a fair argument.
Songs for the Missing is a character driven, slow plotted story. The narrative is propelled by the voices Kim left behind, not by their actions. Like the story itself, the ending is abrupt and unyielding, a good match for the tone of most of the novel.

When my own children were young, I avoided all books on this topic in fear of making the thought real. It seems, when we imagine this horror, that we would never survive, but what
Songs for the Missing does best is to show us the everyday lives of a family taking each step in that horror filled world.

Recommended for readers who enjoy slower paced, character driven stories or readers who have a special interest in missing persons, or readers who enjoy stories examining family/community relationships.

Read from an advanced copy.
On Sale: November 3, 2008 or October 30, 2008 (depending where you get your information!)
Preorder Songs for the Missing Here

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Wendy said...

Great review! I loved this book as well :)

Lenore said...

I like your take on this. I enjoyed the book, but probably shouldn't have read it during a timed challenge.

Tasses said...

Wendy: Thanks for stopping in :-) you have many blogs listed ... Wow!

Lenore: There are good things about the Barnes & Noble First Look and bad. I love getting free books and I like meeting new bibliophiles, but I dislike the pressure I feel to participate in the discussions there.


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