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KxBurns
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Kingsville/Small-Town Life

How does the small-town Kingsville setting influence the lives of the characters in Songs for the Missing? What effect does it have on the search for Kim?
 
Can you give some examples of the positives and negatives of the small-town ethos, as experienced by Kim, her family, and her friends?
 
-Karen
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thekoolaidmom
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

How does the small-town Kingsville setting influence the lives of the characters in Songs for the Missing?  I think they're lives are a lot slower because of it.  They are a closer community where everyone knows everyone, and your guilty of your relative's mistakes.  The small town allows Kim to be "Ed Larsen's daughter," and puts the pressure on her to behave, after all "All a realtor has is his name."  The trains going through, count off the time.  A lot of things that would be overlooked in a bigger city are broadcasted in a small town, and vice versa.
 
What effect does it have on the search for Kim?  The small town hick cop thinks of her as an adult who broke free from the little town and ran off for the bright lights of the big city.  He never really put in the time and effort he would have if he'd thought she was in danger.  Also, the small town made the number of people who could have seen what happened much smaller than a big city.  The potential witness pool was shallow and scattered.
 
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fordmg
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life



thekoolaidmom wrote:
 
What effect does it have on the search for Kim?  The small town hick cop thinks of her as an adult who broke free from the little town and ran off for the bright lights of the big city.  He never really put in the time and effort he would have if he'd thought she was in danger.  Also, the small town made the number of people who could have seen what happened much smaller than a big city.  The potential witness pool was shallow and scattered.
 


I don't think that this is a trait of small town cops.  I believe that even in the "city" a person needs to be missing for 48 hours before they are listed as missing.  That would be standard procedure.  You might think that in a small town people know the residents better and would be more compasionate with the family.  Especially knowing that Kim was leaving for college in a few months, so why would she run away.  Ed had to seek out his friend on the force.  Maybe the friend could have been more helpful.
MG
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

But at the same time, he knows the family, and the family knows the police, in a way you wouldn't see in a big city. So there's a personality relationship there which you wouldn't see if a family in the equivalent position were dealing with the New York PD or the LAPD.

And at the same time, the local cops don't have the experience or the resource of a big time police department. In my own town, I can only remember two cases in the past twenty years where high school students went missing, and in both cases they were children of divorced parents who we quickly found out had run to the other parent or to a grandparent they though would treat them better. Our small town police department has never, as far as I know, had to face a situation like this, and I don't know how skilfully they would cope.

thekoolaidmom wrote:
What effect does it have on the search for Kim? The small town hick cop thinks of her as an adult who broke free from the little town and ran off for the bright lights of the big city. He never really put in the time and effort he would have if he'd thought she was in danger. Also, the small town made the number of people who could have seen what happened much smaller than a big city. The potential witness pool was shallow and scattered.


_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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crimefighter4444
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

the father in this story is a realtor and as a result, knows quite a few people in this town.their friendship is shown as the volume of search volenteers show up to help. the ladies who know the mother help by preparing food. this portrays small town america and the author captures it well. the police seem inept in this situation because in reality no known crime has been committed in their eyes but you cannot tell this to the parents and as a result they start their own investigation. the lack of action by the local police is a good treatment by the author to develop this great story.
rich bielecki
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thekoolaidmom
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

I think the personal relationship they have with the police is something you find in small towns more than the big.  We know our cops here, and they know my oldest daughter (she has special needs),  Being in a small town does limit the amount of resources available to the police, and it does make the wait time longer, as they have to send evidence off to a bigger city's lab.  It doesn't mean they have to flub the investigation, nor does it mean they have to blow off a missing person just because she's 18.  Here in my small town, we had a missing girl that quickly became nat'l news.  She was 18, and they put an Amber Alert out for her within 2 hours.  Our local law enforcement treats all missing reports as endangered, and are great about respecting the families.
 
I think this particular detective, and Perry, honestly, were lax and lazy.  It makes me appreciate our's more.
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WhiteHouseQuartet
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

What effect does it have on the search for Kim?  The small town hick cop thinks of her as an adult who broke free from the little town and ran off for the bright lights of the big city.  He never really put in the time and effort he would have if he'd thought she was in danger.
 
I completely agree with your take on this.  I live in a small town and while I don't think all small-town stereotypes are true, the character in this book seems closely modeled after the stereotypical small town cop. 
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24girl
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life



KxBurns wrote:
What effect does it have on the search for Kim?


To me it seemed as if there were more volunteers because it was a small town. A lot of people either knew Kim or knew someone who knew her which makes the search a little more personal.
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kiakar
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life



t
How does the small-town Kingsville setting influence the lives of the characters in Songs for the Missing?  I assume it would make it easier on the family to know most people in the small town. I think living in a large city, you would seem helpless, but in a small city or town, you can walk on the street and talk to people asking them when and where they last seen her.  But then its the pressure of blame sake. Is she blaming me for my child missing, sort of thing with small towns. Everyone knowing everything about everybody.  But in a case like this, I would prefer the small town. I would feel more people are out there looking for her, knowing her and so forth.
 
What effect does it have on the search for Kim? 
I think I answered this up there! 



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jawilt26
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

How does the small-town Kingsville setting influence the lives of the characters in Songs for the Missing? What effect does it have on the search for Kim? The small-town influence the lives of the characters they were able to get the word out fast and a lot of people showed up to search for Kim or help put up flyer's or make food. The police didn't step up like they should have I think that was because they were not to concerned about her since she was at a certain age. But it still sent up some red flags.
 
 
 
Can you give some examples of the positives and negatives of the small-town ethos, as experienced by Kim, her family, and her friends? I think that since there was not much to do in the town Kim and her friends did began drinking acholo, experimenting with drugs and sex which may have contributed to the abduction. Since it is a small town there is not a lot of work for a teenager so it could be easy to come across someone that might want to hurt you if you were working nights at a gas station and it would be easy to follow someone and know what their routine is in a small town.
Jodie A Wilt
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cocospals
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

Having grown up in a small town sitting amidst bigger towns I agree with so much of what has been said. Keeping up the good reputation as the whole town knows you as "so and so's daughter", and how the town will rally in the light of a tragedy, but also the small town cop mentality. It is not that they are not effective, it is more inexperience in this sort of situation. In a big city, girls disappear daily...run away, are abducted, just drop off the face of the earth and maybe, just maybe someone notices. In a small town, it is "in your face". We have so and so's daughter and she has run away. Small towns are supposed to be safe havens and abductions just don't happen...that is that "small town cop mentality"
Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there - John Wooden
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slbotts
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

How does the small-town Kingsville setting influence the lives of the characters in Songs for the Missing? What effect does it have on the search for Kim?
 
Can you give some examples of the positives and negatives of the small-town ethos, as experienced by Kim, her family, and her friends?
 
-Karen
 
 
There are pros and cons to living in a small town.  Pros--everyone seems to know who you are and who your Dad is and who your friends are---but then I guess some people would see that as a 'con'.  Because they were a small community they all came together willingly to do whatever they could to help out this family.  Because she got mixed up with someone from the 'bad' side of town---once that came out people seemed to think less of her----that is definitely a con of living in a small town.  The police then thought of her not as the popular daughter of a realtor---but the wild girl who took drugs and drank and ran around with the wrong crowd.  When it all comes down to it---she was a beautiful young girl who was taken and killed---who cares who she dated or what her Dad did?  In a small town it is hard for the people to look beyond all of that, including the police, which is very sad.
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GnANorman
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

I think the small town living provided many opportunities for the family in their search.  First, local businesses contributed time and money to provide materials used in the search.  Also, neighbors came to help with the search.  Restaurants provided food and drink for those searching.  Fran and Ed were also able to take a significant amount of leave time from their jobs so that they could do the things the police department was not willing (or able) to do. I'm not sure a city environment would afford the same opportunities. 
 
The disadvantage is that by living in a small community, you tend to overlook the risks and dangers prevelant in our society.  There is comfort in knowing your neighbors and feeling as if you can leave your doors unlocked and children can roam around.  Unfortunatly, Kim's family found that the small town does not ensure safety.
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vivico1
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life


kiakar wrote:


t
How does the small-town Kingsville setting influence the lives of the characters in Songs for the Missing? I assume it would make it easier on the family to know most people in the small town. I think living in a large city, you would seem helpless, but in a small city or town, you can walk on the street and talk to people asking them when and where they last seen her. But then its the pressure of blame sake. Is she blaming me for my child missing, sort of thing with small towns. Everyone knowing everything about everybody. But in a case like this, I would prefer the small town. I would feel more people are out there looking for her, knowing her and so forth.
What effect does it have on the search for Kim?
I think I answered this up there!






I agree with you Kiakar, I think living in a small town, where everyone knows everyone, especially if you are raising kids, would at least give you more people who might know something about her that could help and yes, it seems, more people do help look for the missing kids, when its a small town. There are lots of volunteers out, whereas in the city, you may not even know your neighbors and you may just be another news story.

I think too that missing kids in a small town has a bigger affect on the whole community than in a big town. Not that they care more then people in a big city, but because, as stated, you tend to know the people involved and that makes it so much closer to home. Also, in a small town, where maybe there is not a lot of "big" crime, a girl going missing could have everyone worried about their own much more than in a big city where it was "just a news item" about someone you didn't know.

As for the small town cop. Maybe he didn't do all he could but at the same time, given her age, what the found out about her, the time requirements on a missing person, there are some things he just can't do right away. At the same time, I thought there were hints of some things he was doing, that he just couldn't tell them he was and so they thought he was doing nothing. Sometimes the parents have to be left out of the loop initially and any and everyone can be a suspect. Another reason he may not appear to be handling it the best way, or the way they want at least, may be because they are in a small town where this kind of thing just doesn't happen. He is just going by the book till he can make sure that she isn't another small town runaway kid headed for the city, and he needs more expertise. Also, since it is a small town, at least they know someone to go to, to try to get more help.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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djohns64
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

[ Edited ]
By being in a small town more people know each other. So I think it helped when it came to searching for Kim. I think they had a lot of volunteers in the beginning. As well as a big turn out for the memorial services that they had. But in small towns the cops usually think more of a young adult just wanting to get away from the families. Than something bad happening to them.


Message Edited by djohns64 on 06-02-2008 09:14 PM
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Jennd1
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

My immediate thought when I read this question was the way small towns are always described as "fish Bowls". I think the fact that it was a small town and that Kim and her father were both well known helped them get the word out and find volunteers in the early days, but I think as time went on the Larsen's wanted a little more privacy and space than their town allowed.
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Bonnie824
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

Even though it was a small town, it seemed more urban to me because they were so close to a big city, and the atmosphere was not small town as I think of it really, more suburban to a city. Having the police swarming around and trying to take charge, but not listening to what the parents were saying did seem small town though, and I could understand how scary and frustrating that was to Ed- having his daughters life on the line dependent on the skills of people he saw as incompetent.
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bentley
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life


KxBurns wrote:


How does the small-town Kingsville setting influence the lives of the characters in Songs for the Missing? What effect does it have on the search for Kim?

 

Can you give some examples of the positives and negatives of the small-town ethos, as experienced by Kim, her family, and her friends?

 

-Karen





Kim wanted to become someone who was not from Kingsville and a private, independent person. She did not hate the town and in another thread I stated how O'Nan pointed out the many things that Kim really did like about the town. Like many small towns everybody knew each other and fixed labels on families and individuals which stuck. Kim like many of her class wanted to leave; but growing up in a small town made it easy to know everyone and every place and feel comfortable and grounded with the knowledge of who and what you were and where you fit into the town's pecking order. In 39 days, that solid grounding would be replaced by the unknown and the rug could be pulled out from beneath her. Sometimes I think Kim felt how much easier it would be to be a big fish in a little pond. Was she going to be able to survive when she ventured beyond this so called safe small town into the big world. Would she lose everything that she had, would she fail without what she knew. Her family was going through the same thing experiencing a sense of loss in advance of her leaving. Everyone was starting to panic. Why leave at all when everything back home is safe: boring as all get out but predictable.

On the first page of the novel, O'Nan said it best. "The sins of the Midwest: flatness, emptiness, a necesary acceptance of the familiar. Where is the romance in being buried alive? In growing old?"
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bookhunter
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

In a small town there is a feeling of "How can this happen HERE?"  And that we all know Kim.  Or we know her folks.  Or we know someone who knows her family.  A tragic event in a small town happens to EVERYONE in the small town.
 
For Lindsey, this is is difficult to handle.  She has to share her private grief with the whole community.  When she starts school in the fall, she sees the girls at her school that she doesn't even know wearing the pink bracelets.
 
Ann, bookhunter
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DSaff
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Re: Kingsville/Small-Town Life

I like the feel of a small town, and having lived in both large and small, I prefer the small. People know each other, and while there may be too much of your life known by your neighbors, they also notice when something is wrong. It seems that life is slower, simpler, and easier in a small town, but who knows how long that will last? Big city crime is moving to rural areas, and our story is just one example of that. The whole town seems to feel the family's pain here.

I think the small town setting hindered the search in the beginning. I'm not sure that the police had the resources or training to deal with a missing person, and so much time had already gone by. They certainly found out how little each of them really knew about Kim and her actions. A big positive was the number of people who came out to search. I also felt a lot of community support for the family. This was not simply another missing child. This was one of their own. I think the community was changed forever.

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
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