Review: Songs for the Missing

Songs for the Missing – Stewart O’Nan

songs

From the back cover –

“It was the summer of her Chevette, of J.P. and letting her hair grow.”  It was also the summer when, without warning, popular high school student Kim Larsen disappeared from her small Midwestern town.  Her loving parents, her introverted sister, her friends and boyfriend must now do everything they can to find her.  As desperate search parties give way to pleading television appearances, and private investigations yield to personal revelations, we see one town’s intimate struggle to maintain hope and finally, to live with the unknown.

Stewart O’Nan’s new novel begins with the suspense and pacing of a thriller and soon deepens into an affecting family drama of loss.  On the heels of his critically acclaimed and nationally bestselling Last Night at the Lobster, Songs for the Missing is an honest, heartfelt account of one family’s attempt to find their child.  With a soulful empathy for these ordinary heroes, O’Nan draws us into the world of this small Midwestern town and allows us to feel a part of this family.

My thoughts –

I have a hard time saying that I “enjoyed” this book because it was very… somber.  And sad.  And kind of hopeless, actually, which is not an easy emotion to feel while reading a book.  But it was very well-written and engrossing and I definitely flew through this novel, never wanting to put it down for any length of time.  Also, the characters were incredibly real.  I especially liked Lindsay, Kim’s sister, and I enjoyed reading about both her mourning for Kim and later her transformation into a young adult, dealing with the idea of live without her sister, and finding herself through all the chaos.  The other characters were also interesting and I liked most of them, but some of them were a tad one-dimensional, in my opinion (most notably, Kim’s parents).  While I am so glad I read this book, and I think O’Nan is a fabulous writer, it was honestly a very sad story and it wasn’t the easiest to read.  Because truthfully, very little in the book is hopeful in any way.  Other books I have read about disappearing or missing children or adults, such as The Year of Fog, have a positive quality to them – no matter what, the expectation throughout the book is that the missing person will be found (regardless of the actual outcome of the book), and that idea is what propels the majority of the story.  In this case… well, not so much.  It’s just much more bleak.  Not that anyone gives up on Kim, it’s just that the general feeling of the novel is one of despair.  I can’t describe it very well, but just don’t be surprised if the book depresses you somewhat.  I DO recommend it, it’s a very well-written book that will keep you turning the pages, but it’s not the easiest read.

Songs for the Missing was also reviewed by:

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5 thoughts on “Review: Songs for the Missing”

  1. Glad to see you appreciated this book as I did, Heather. It was bleak – but so realistic and I thought O’Nan’s writing was beautifully constructed. Thanks for the link to me review 😉

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