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Monday, June 2, 2008

47. Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan


Title: Songs for the Missing
Author: Stewart O'Nan
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 287
Format: Paperback from B&N First Look Program for review
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 6-1-08

I received Stewart O'Nan's Songs for the Missing through the Barnes & Noble First Look Program. I was really looking forward to reading this, as it seemed like an interesting premise: high school student Kim Larsen simply disappears one summer day, and her family tries to pick up the pieces of their lives after dealing with this loss while at the same time trying to get answers to their daughter's disappearance. Ultimately, I was a little disappointed in what I received.

O'Nan takes us on a journey from the initial shock and confusion immediately following Kim's disappearance to the subsequent searches and leads that may or may not lead to Kim's recovery. We experience these emotions through the eyes of several people closest to Kim; her parents Fran and Ed, her little sister Lindsay, her best friend Nina and her boyfriend J.P. O'Nan tries to let us in on their feelings, and each chapter is told from a different point of view of one of the protagonists, but he jumps from character to character and doesn't make it immediately clear whose POV we're seeing, which made it confusing sometimes to know whose story we were be involved in at that point.

It seemed that the book could have been shorter, but I think that is only because of the tedium that O'Nan was trying to instill in the reader over the recovery and search efforts for Kim. That was one thing that O'Nan did portray well, the eventual growing hopelessness in getting anwers about what happened to Kim. There were aspects of the story that were kept from the reader intentionally, leaving us in the dark as well as the those the secrets were being kept from. Yet, when it became clear in the story that the secrets had finally come to light, the reader was still left in the dark as to the exact nature of the secrets; there were hints and off hand comments about what had happened, but never anything concrete. Maybe I'm wrong on this aspect, but I want details handed to me. I don't want to have to speculate on what the author is trying to be enigmatic about.

By the end of the book, I was just reading to find out what happened; I don't think that I cared all that much anymore what happened one way or another, whether or not they found Kim or not. I felt little sympathy for her mother, who I began to feel was being drawn in more to the celebrity of her missing daughter than she was the fact that her daughter was actually missing. It just seemed like the entire experience was just too drawn out and long. I don't know, maybe that was the point.

Overall, not a bad book, but it just didn't seem to click with me. It's something that I am glad that I got for free.

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