06-23-2008 09:47 AM
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06-23-2008 10:03 AM
SONGS FOR THE MISSING had the potential to be a great book. A beloved daughter goes missing, and the aftershocks of her departure paralyze, shock and forever change her family and her friends. In fact, Kim Larsen's disappearance changes 'everything'.
Stewart O'Nan's style of writing is minimalistic, stark and open ended. His imagery can be riveting and incisive. The question that I had at the end of the novel, however, was that 'sadly' more than Kim Larsen was missing.
The ending seems rushed, there are huge gaps in character development, there are too many unresolved plot details and in the final analysis there were a lot of things that just did not add up. From my viewpoint, the novel seems more like an unfinished melody which lingers on; but then goes nowhere.
The basic premise of the book is powerful and gripping. And it is a shame that by the end of the novel, the reader may not feel satisfied. O'Nan wanted to create an emotional climate which would show and feel how families cope or not with this kind of disappearance. In part, he succeeded...he does leave you asking questions which you will never answer from the writing itself. However, the key problem is that O'Nan leaves you asking questions that should have been addressed and were not. For me, the novel did not come together and left me dissatisfied and looking for more.
For those readers who like open ended novels which leave much to their imagination, then this novel would have the potential to be an outstanding choice. It is all a matter of personal preference.
Three Stars ***
06-23-2008 10:10 AM - edited 06-23-2008 10:11 AM
A Haunting Journey
The book be spelled me from the very beginning and I found it hard to put down.
It was a work of fiction and even though the story flowed like fiction the details made it seem more like non-fiction to me. The author gives us just enough information about the story line and characters that we're not totally ignorant but keeps enough apart from us that we have to really use our heads to try and figure out what else is going on.
We who have never gone through something like this can't even imagine the turmoil not only the family and friends of this young woman experienced but the entire town as well.
It's a story that is every parents nightmare and one that was told with empathy and compassion by those who were closest to the incident.
I would highly recommend this book.
Other recommended reading - Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan, The Dark Tide by Andrew Gross, The Murder Game by Beverly Barton
Message Edited by dhaupt on 06-23-2008 10:11 AM
06-23-2008 11:18 AM
I especially liked the character arc of the younger sister, Lindsay. Before Kim's tragedy, Lindsay was known as Little Larson. After, she must deal with her parents being overprotective, with classmates and townspeople not knowing what to say to her, and with creating an identity beyond that of the sister of a missing girl. My favorite line of the book describes what Lindsay is doing in her room on one of the days after Kim doesn't come home: "After a chapter and a half, she gave up and went online, killing time playing Text Twist. The jumbled letters took all her attention. Racking up a high score didn't matter. The satisfying instant when her brain relaxed and the hidden word magically snapped into place was her reward."
06-23-2008 02:00 PM
A Story with Split Personalities
Songs for the Missing is a book that doesn't fit nicely into a single box. As described in the "Overview" section on the book page the book has two main sections: thriller and drama. I was drawn in very deeply to the thriller portion of the book that relates that search for Kim after her disappearance. However, rather than taking this thought toward a natural conclusion, the story slows and takes us through the journey that the family goes through on a personal level as the search fades into normal life. The final chapters attempt to tie these two parts of the story together, but the results are rather mixed. I found the transition from thriller to drama to be very unsettling much like crashing after a sugar or caffeine high. Both sections are well written for what they are, and the book could have been quite good indeed if it had been approached as a whole as either thriller or drama. I will concede that it is possible that the defect is with the reader and not the book itself, but this book just didn't work for me.
06-23-2008 03:46 PM
06-23-2008 05:30 PM - edited 06-23-2008 06:51 PM
Emotional Story told Unemotionally
Young girl goes missing. It unfortunately happens too often. This story is about the effects that has on the family and friends left behind, not the event itself really. Unfortunately the emotions go missing as well. This potentially great story, that could give the reader some wonderful insight into the places we can not go, the thoughts and feelings of those left behind, does not but instead leaves the reader with the duty to figure that out. I found it no different than if I had read a news story about a missing girl with what little they might say about the family's feelings, and those of her friends. Here, they all seem very flat and it's hard to maintain a level of interest or caring about any of them because we can't get inside them. If your looking for a great character study book, you will have to make it up as you go along. If you are looking for a great mystery, the only mystery here is, why is a book about the emotions which people go through during and after such a crisis written so unemotionally? Songs for the Missing is probably a more apt title for what the reader will be singing from not learning the feelings or thoughts of the characters. And that's an unhappy tune indeed.
Message Edited by vivico1 on 06-23-2008 05:51 PM
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
06-23-2008 06:37 PM
Gone in a moment
Songs for the Missing is not an easy read, yet it compels you to continue. This story seems to come right from the newspaper headlines. There are moments when you, the reader, will want to help the searchers, the police, the family. It will make you think about what you do to keep your family safe. Did anyone truly know Kim? What happened to her? Will the family survive? What help is available to them? What about her friends? These questions and more await you as you read the story of one community’s reaction to a missing teen, and as you witness Kim’s family struggle to make sense of an unthinkable situation.
Other recommendations: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold; any of Kathy Reichs’ books about Dr. Temperance Brennan(i.e. Deja Dead)
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
06-23-2008 11:50 PM
06-24-2008 08:50 AM
06-24-2008 08:51 AM
06-24-2008 12:57 PM
06-24-2008 07:37 PM
06-24-2008 07:47 PM - edited 06-24-2008 07:48 PM
Message Edited by CAG on 06-24-2008 04:48 PM
06-24-2008 08:36 PM
All in all, not a great book. As other previous reviews stated, there were too many things alluded to, but not explained. Why did Fran so intensely dislike J.P.? The Wooze character was mentioned, but we did not know much about him. Certain chapters would leave you hanging, with no clear cut answers. I kept going back & rereading, thinking I overlooked something.
The book had great potential, but left me very disappointed at the end.
06-25-2008 01:52 PM
06-25-2008 07:11 PM
06-25-2008 07:45 PM
The disappearance of Kim Larsen from the small town of Kingsville, Ohio opens the story of family and friends banded together to overcome personal fears, questions of fate, and dealings with tragedy. The book slowly reveals the characters that shaped Kim’s life: her secluded sister, adoring parents and unique and wild friends. The story of Kim’s disappearance is not actually the focus; instead the book highlights the relationships and lives changed by her disappearance. The enduring emotional struggles and consequences faced by those closest to her make up a majority of the book. The characters are believable, and the families struggle over the disappearance of their beloved daughter seems so real it is heartbreaking. The story and the characters involved remind you of your neighbor, your family, and your own friends and Stewart O’Nan gives us subtle reminders of the uncertainties of life. The end leaves the reader a little flustered, after rapidly turning the pages to find answers to questions that will never be fully answered. It seems that over all a lot of work went into the build up of the characters and the storyline, but the accumulation of too many gaps and unanswered questions leaves something missing. Ironically, the typical good winning over evil and justice served will not be found within these pages, but the unity of family and friends in times of despair allows hope and optimism to shine through, and makes this seemly true story a great read. Valerie Jones firstname.lastname@example.org
"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams..." -Dr. Seuss
06-25-2008 08:19 PM
I just finished One Last Cuckoo by Kate Malloy. It is new I think and very good.