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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Final Chapters

How did you feel about the way the last third of the book unfolded? What moments of transition did you identify as significant to individual characters or to the story as a whole? What incidents in the final portion of the book resonated with you?
 
What did you make of Mimi and her "crusade" to find Kim? Ed's mother plays a small but important role over the course of the story -- in what ways does she operate as a foil for Kim?
 
Finally, although Kim's abduction and death turned out to be random crimes, is there a greater meaning to be found in the tragedy and, if so, what is it?
 
-Karen
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lsmith3125
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎10-04-2007
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Re: Final Chapters

I really enjoyed Stewart O'nan's "Songs for the Missing." It was not the genre of my usual reading and I found it most engrossing.
One of the best qualities of the book, in my opinion, is that Mr. Onan stays so true to his premise of studying the effects of this tragedy on just the primary family members. It is so tempting to want to spend more time looking at Mimi and her motives or the drug elements or the other kids, but he sticks to just the family so well! Having suffered a similar family tragedy, it is extremely realistic of the tunnel vision the surrounds you as a survivor and of the new priorities that become your way of life.
I think, also, that the greatest survivor guilt is generally suffered by surviving grandparents and Ed's mother is an classic example of this. If parents are not meant, in the greater truths of life, to survive their children, then grandparents are truly at a loss when a young person dies so tragically. Why must they continue to suffer a spent life when one so young and vital is taken? Some things must just be suffered, and no discussion or soul-searching will find a reason for it.
On a scale of 1 to 5, I would give this work a 4+. It's not Tolstoy, but it is a wonderfully written novel and by far the best of the three First Look works that I've read to date.
I've not read any of Mr. O'nan's work before, but have added some of his earlier works to my summer reading list, in hope that they are as intelligent and evocative as this one has been.
Thank you, Barnes & Noble, for this wonderful first look. I look forward to future readings!

Linda Smith
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bentley
Posts: 2,509
Registered: ‎01-31-2007
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Re: Final Chapters

Karen, there was a lot in the book that was powerfully written in a quiet, understated way. But there were some things that did not seem well transitioned including the chapter The Killer Next Door and where Mimi the sparkie with the dog came from is beyond me.

Other than the above and the fact that I too would have enjoyed more details, I felt that the book was not written with details in mind; to me it was written with a focus on creating a sense of connection with this type of event and the devastating aftershocks for those left behind.

In that, O'Nan was mighty successful. For me the book was good and it of course wasn't a good feel type of book; but a successful read nonetheless.
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umlaut
Posts: 34
Registered: ‎01-29-2008
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Re: Final Chapters

The part of the story of Mimi and her "crusade" to find Kim, was little too far fetched and just thrown in the story to make it more offbeat. I was little disappointed on how this character jumps into this story and makes it totally unbelievable. I am not sure what Stewart was trying to convey by brining this character in the story; god behaves in mysterious ways?? i am not sure, Mimi just doesn't fit the story.
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dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Final Chapters

I think what the final chapters made me realize was that the book wasn't about Kim at all but about but about all the people her life touched in one way or another and how the tragedy effected them.
I think Mimi was a kook, but without her tenacity they'd probably still be looking for the remains.
Ed's mom plays several intricate parts in this book, one she gives the offer of money to Ed and Fran to help in the search. She also gives the family an excuse to do something normal by visiting her at the retirement home.
I think the book emphasizes the fact that in an act of random crime no matter where you live or who you are no one is absolutely safe.
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pjmanley41
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎04-11-2008
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Re: Final Chapters

I almost agree. This character was the least believable to me. I felt she was thrown in just to tie things up a little hurriedly. Overall though, I loved the book.
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cocospals
Posts: 115
Registered: ‎12-25-2007
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Re: Final Chapters

I kind of felt that Mimi was thrown in as a way to finish up the story in a hurry. I felt the end was rushed, that Mr. O'Nan didn't quite know how to wrap it all together. I did not like how we were left hanging as to how Kim died.
Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there - John Wooden
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vcgosox
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎04-14-2008
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Re: Final Chapters

I enjoyed the book but it felt like the book ended abruptly. I hoped Ed and Fran would connect more with Lindsey. Mr. Oman did a good job of showing the family's response to the tragedy. Fran working as a crusader for the missing and Lindsey going away to college where she isn't reminded of the situation on a daily basis.
 
It was heartbreaking to see how Lindsey became so far removed from her parents. I wish the tragic events would have been able to bring the family closer together.
 
The biggest thing I took from this book is to never forget or overlook those you love. We should honor the past but cherish those individuals in our present.
 
 
Vicky
dg
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dg
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎10-13-2007
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Re: Final Chapters

I think the book ending the way it did kept the story from being about Kim and kept it where it focused on the people who were left behind.  And the reactions and non-reactions of people seemed very real to me.  I think that when tragedy strikes there is a numbing quality that surrounds the event, sometimes for many years, if not forever.
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Amber_R
Posts: 15
Registered: ‎04-14-2008
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Re: Final Chapters



COCOSPALS wrote:
I kind of felt that Mimi was thrown in as a way to finish up the story in a hurry. I felt the end was rushed, that Mr. O'Nan didn't quite know how to wrap it all together. I did not like how we were left hanging as to how Kim died.





I felt that she was added as a way to bring Kim's remains home and add closure to the family and to the reader. If, at the end of the novel, we were still wondering where her body was I think we'd all feel a little cheated somehow. But, at least this way she does get back home and her family can get some closure (not all since we still don't know how exactly she died). It was a bit of a rush ending, but it worked for me.
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Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Final Chapters

I was unhappy with the ending. It seemed rushed, unpersuasive, deux-ex-machina, and frustrating that after this long journey with Kim and her friends and family, we have no idea what really happened to her (other than death), why, or how. I understand now, having read Stewart O'Nan's comments on it in his thread, why he did this, but I still don't like it, and I don't consider it "playing fair" with the reader. If there are rules to fiction, particularly mystery/suspense type fiction, it is that the reader is to find some degree of resolution. Maybe the characters don't, but the reader should. (I, along with many others, had the same objection to a previous First Look book, The Sister.)

I don't read very much modern fiction, so maybe this is a trend I haven't generally encountered, to leave the reader with major -- in this case crucial -- plot elements unresolved, to want the reader to leave the book frustrated by unknowning, since after all that's the way much of life it. If so, in my view that's a good reason to stick with older, classic fiction. :smileyhappy:
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Final Chapters

KxBurns wrote: Finally, although Kim's abduction and death turned out to be random crimes...

Ah, you're assuming. We don't know that. We don't know whether or no Wade really did kill her. There are major holes in his story (like, how did her car get where it is if he took her off in his car?) And why, if she ran out of gas, didn't she just call somebody (she had her cell phone, didn't she?)

Police are very familiar with false confessions. In fact, one of the unrealistic aspects of the book is that nobody came forward except Wade to confess. In a case with this much publicity, somebody most likely would have.

It is still possible that Woozie killed her to keep her quiet, isn't it?

Let's not assume that we know things we don't really know.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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nmccarthy
Posts: 35
Registered: ‎12-29-2007
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Re: Final Chapters



Amber_R wrote:


COCOSPALS wrote:
I kind of felt that Mimi was thrown in as a way to finish up the story in a hurry. I felt the end was rushed, that Mr. O'Nan didn't quite know how to wrap it all together. I did not like how we were left hanging as to how Kim died.



Although there aren't too many Mimi's out there, I do think the character is believable. Here's a woman in her 60's that raised children of her own; she can easily empathize with a mother who's lost a child for which there is no closure. She has time on her hands and is probably looking for a way to give back - to add meaning to her life. Her dog, Ollie, was obviously important to her; using a GPS and searching the countryside gave them a shared activity. In addition, Mimi may have also enjoyed the thrill of the hunt - kind of a triple bonus for her.
 
I also thought the book ended somewhat abruptly. Maybe this is O'Nan's way of relating to the reader how those involved in the search may have felt when it was all said and done. For months and years, the family and friends devoted a large part of their lives and attention to solving the mystery of what happened to Kim. And then, not until the body is found, is the mystery solved. And only part of the mystery. There is no closure - Why did the killer chose Kim? What made him a monster? How did they meet? Did Kim try to run?... How agonizing it must be for the parents if even us readers feel the end of the mystery was abrupt and still left many unanswered questions.
Nancy
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Lildove3
Posts: 96
Registered: ‎02-05-2008
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Re: Final Chapters

Like I mentioned ,recently losing my employer, therefore I can identify very closely to many points
in the final chapters while reading Songs for the Missing. I feel Mr. O'Nan is a superb writer. If people get upset about how the book ended, then how do they feel about old Alfred Hitchcock novels??? Many of
times he left us wondering about parts of his movies, but yet people enjoyed his works emensley...
therefore I find the idea wonderful.  With a little mystery in reading a novel, makes the reader wanting more.
If we ever get the chance to do another novel by Stewart O'Nan...sign me up.   My feelings about the book,
once I started the book,it was very difficult to put the book down. I enjoyed all the characters wriiten in this
book,I could relate to some of them because, I deal with lots of people on a daily basis, and some of the characters act like people I know in real life.  At this time,I would like to Thank all who is involved with the
First Look Book club, Barnes and Noble, and Finally Mr. Stewart O"Nan for giving me the privilage for
reading your book.
 
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julyso
Posts: 67
Registered: ‎12-04-2007
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Re: Final Chapters

I have to say that I really didn't enjoy this book all that much...it just seemed like it was slow for me to get into, I really didn't enjoy the characters too much and I didn't quite understand them, and don't even get me started on the ending! When I finished it, I still had questions and was frustrated that I even read the book.  I won't be rushing out to find any more books by O'Nan, sorry:smileysad:
Julie
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bentley
Posts: 2,509
Registered: ‎01-31-2007
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Re: Final Chapters


Everyman wrote:
I was unhappy with the ending. It seemed rushed, unpersuasive, deux-ex-machina, and frustrating that after this long journey with Kim and her friends and family, we have no idea what really happened to her (other than death), why, or how. I understand now, having read Stewart O'Nan's comments on it in his thread, why he did this, but I still don't like it, and I don't consider it "playing fair" with the reader. If there are rules to fiction, particularly mystery/suspense type fiction, it is that the reader is to find some degree of resolution. Maybe the characters don't, but the reader should. (I, along with many others, had the same objection to a previous First Look book, The Sister.)

I don't read very much modern fiction, so maybe this is a trend I haven't generally encountered, to leave the reader with major -- in this case crucial -- plot elements unresolved, to want the reader to leave the book frustrated by unknowning, since after all that's the way much of life it. If so, in my view that's a good reason to stick with older, classic fiction. :smileyhappy:




I agree. We all understand his perspective of course; and he was very gracious with his time. But at the end of the day, we end up still feeling the same way. I agree that it isn't up to the reader to come up with their own ending or seek their own resolution and somehow that the resolution or ending that you come up with somehow states something about you (like a Rohrshach Test). I found that so odd an explanation and rationale. For example, I loved my mother and had a great relationship with her; and she could not have done more for her family in a close and intimate way. In reading SFTM, I felt that Fran made many poor decisions and was emotionally walled up; and was not a terrific mother who had good intimate relationships with her girls even before the event. Using O'Nan's explanation, then my conclusions which unfortunately are based upon simply the details that he provided show that I did not relate to my mother because there must have been a lack of intimacy. All I can say and very politely of course is hogwash.

At the end of the day it is still true that major plot elements were unresolved and some details which were included never added up. My feeling is that this is the difference between good or average books and great ones. It appeared to me that things were rushed at the end; before everything gelled. Maybe O'Nan is a very structured person in terms of his work habits and when the time has come for something to be done; then it is deemed finished so he can move on to the next task.

Tolstoy at the other extreme was never satisfied with anything and kept trying to perfect it (over and over again). Of course, we can see the difference with the quality of the output; and he could have certainly used a good editor like Josh when he took his detours; but nonetheless you knew his characters inside and out. They were human by the end of the novel for almost everyone.

Nonetheless, like the author, I have completed the task and am on to something else. I enjoyed the experience and the discourse with my fellow board members.

Bentley
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Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Final Chapters

I have to say, I found the ending very realistic and was glad to know Kim's family and JP and Nina were doing pretty OK. Maybe it's because I read true crime sometimes or because I have experience with crime and punishment and family trauma and small town life. Many missing person cases leave the families with unanswered questions and the world is just now always or even usually fair and just. Even families who find out exactly what happened in minute detail and who did it and see them tried and punished don't find closure IMO unless they get to the point when they can grieve and remember good things and move on with their lives.
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jawilt26
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎10-30-2007
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Re: Final Chapters

I didn't like the character Mimi at all I thought that Fran gave her to much credit and at this point in the story I felt that Fran needed to just get some closer and move on and start being a mother to Lindsey. But as the story ended it seemed that Fran never did become the mother to Lindsey that I would of loved her to be. I thought it was great that despite everything that happened Lindsey turned out great and was able to move on and live a life that she may not have been able to live if Kim didn't disappear.
Jodie A Wilt
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Readingrat
Posts: 72
Registered: ‎09-26-2007
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Re: Final Chapters

I found the final chapters to be a very fast read. I just kept going and going to find out how this all was going to turn out. I didn't much care for the use of Mimi to find the body, but it did provide us a way to see some of Ed's conflicted feelings. Overall I felt the story was probably a very highly accurate portrayal of a family living through the disappearance of a child and I enjoyed reading the book. Unfortunately, I never really felt that I connected with any of the characters. I didn't feel like I was pulled into their world at all; I was just relegated to the sidelines to look on while the story unfolded.
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pheath
Posts: 82
Registered: ‎02-01-2007
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Re: Final Chapters



Everyman wrote:
I was unhappy with the ending. It seemed rushed, unpersuasive, deux-ex-machina, and frustrating that after this long journey with Kim and her friends and family, we have no idea what really happened to her (other than death), why, or how. I understand now, having read Stewart O'Nan's comments on it in his thread, why he did this, but I still don't like it, and I don't consider it "playing fair" with the reader. If there are rules to fiction, particularly mystery/suspense type fiction, it is that the reader is to find some degree of resolution. Maybe the characters don't, but the reader should. (I, along with many others, had the same objection to a previous First Look book, The Sister.)

I don't read very much modern fiction, so maybe this is a trend I haven't generally encountered, to leave the reader with major -- in this case crucial -- plot elements unresolved, to want the reader to leave the book frustrated by unknowning, since after all that's the way much of life it. If so, in my view that's a good reason to stick with older, classic fiction. :smileyhappy:




I have to agree with you. While I understand that the novel was based on a true story, I like a little more resolution. I thought that the novel lost steam after the search ended, and the ending was not very satisfying.
-Philip
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