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Maria_H
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Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

Write your reviews of Songs for the Missing in this thread. From here, we'll collect your reviews and post them to the book's product page.

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bentley
Posts: 2,509
Registered: ‎01-31-2007
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Re: UNFINISHED MELODY

Unfinished Melody

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 ***

Bentley/2008
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dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

[ Edited ]
I give this book 5 stars *****

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
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lenoreva
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Registered: ‎04-15-2008
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

A Sad, Powerful Song
 
Songs for the Missing might be more aptly titled Songs for the close family and friends of the Missing as it explores the effects that a teenage girl's disapearance has on those closest to her. It was interesting to read about a missing person's case from the family's rather than the police's point of view - it's more about the emotional side of it and the ways that they cope with her absence day by day.

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."
 
Four stars
 
Lenore
Frequent Contributor
pheath
Posts: 82
Registered: ‎02-01-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

Rating:

3-Stars

Headline:

A Story with Split Personalities

Review:

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.
-Philip
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: UNFINISHED MELODY

I liked this book by Stewart O'Nan. "Songs for the Missing" definitely could never be my favorite book. My favorite book always insists on I knowing that the book will end with all of my questions answered and if its shocked full of emotion as this book is, I will have very wet eyes that have been immersed by tears because the ending being so inclusive, I know all about it and probably will never forget it. Stewart is a very talented writer as he can build absolute characters that can speak wonderously in  a good story. Other people might enjoy this book alot better than I did, if they like to second guess what really happened and if they want to depend on theirselves rather than the author for the display of emotional feelings you need to experience to    read this type of novel. I will never regret reading this novel. It was informing, great desccriptive writing so that I could invision the characters in their roles most of the time. But the deep, emotional fulfillment was left out for me , that is.  Linda Huff  Oh! almost forgot! I give it a Three.
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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: UNFINISHED MELODY

[ Edited ]
2 Stars.
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
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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DSaff
Posts: 2,048
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Gone in a moment

Gone in a moment

4 stars

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)

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
Inspired Correspondent
Librarian
Posts: 483
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

5 Stars
         A Haunting Immediacy
 
There is a haunting immediacy to Stewart O'Nan's books. In Songs for the Missing, you are right there with the characters experiencing all that they encounter and feel.
 
Librarian
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Jeanie0522
Posts: 43
Registered: ‎12-24-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

Stars:  5
 
Headline:  A family faces their worst fear...
 
 
After years of reading stories of missing children, this novel brings to light what it is like for the families of one of those children.  Kim is a typical 17 year old enjoying her last summer vacation when suddenly she disappears one afternoon. 
 
The novel focuses on Kim's family and her friends.  Their thoughts, feelings and how life goes on no matter what you are dealing with.  Stewart O'Nan has a unique and lovely writing style that keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next.
 
Other book recommendations:  Speed Queen and The Night Country by Stewart O'Nan and The Bright Forever by Lee Martin
 
-Jeanie
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Jeanie0522
Posts: 43
Registered: ‎12-24-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

Stars:  5
 
Headline:  A family faces their worst fear...
 
 
After years of reading stories of missing children, this novel brings to light what it is like for the families of one of those children.  Kim is a typical 17 year old enjoying her last summer vacation when suddenly she disappears one afternoon. 
 
The novel focuses on Kim's family and her friends.  Their thoughts, feelings and how life goes on no matter what you are dealing with.  Stewart O'Nan has a unique and lovely writing style that keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next.
 
Other book recommendations:  Speed Queen and The Night Country by Stewart O'Nan and The Bright Forever by Lee Martin
 
-Jeanie
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chickletta
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎04-10-2008
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

Dissonant notes
 
2 stars
 
Stewart O'Nan's book Songs for the Missing has a compelling premise. Kim Larsen, soon to enter college as a freshman, a young woman full of life, love and possibilities goes missing. Through the eyes of her parents Fran and Ed, her sister Lindsay and her school friends we build an image of Kim, even as we see the effects her disappearance has on the other characters. Fran, who downed excess wine even before the disappearance, blossoms into the role of family spokesperson. Lindsay, "Little Larsen" withdraws into her teenage angsty shell, but also manages to emerge out of her older (and more accomplished) sister's shadow. Ed scours the countryside with bands of volunteers, propelled as much by an urge to find his daughter as to have something to do.
 
The author writes of this tragic and fraught event with remarkable distance. And it is this distance that leads to the book's undoing. The book is told from the points of views of her family and friends, and with six or more characters jostling for reader attention, there is no satisfying emotional core character who we empathize with. Several key factors are simply alluded to, never explained. We never truly find out for sure what made Fran so antagonistic towards her boyfriend. The Larsens and Wooze never really meet.
 
And the Larsen family seem strangely unconfrontational. Ed Larsen seems to feel that the police forces, headed by his friend Perry are doing little but not once the author give us the satisfaction of seeing him completely come apart at the seams and sock it to any of them. Nor do any of the Larsens experience a major shake-up of their Christian faith - neither getting caught up in a guilty fervor with their church nor questioning the existence of God. Lindsay comes close, wondering at Kim's memorial service if death and resurrection are indeed true, but even she pushes that thought aside in her need to believe they are, for Kim's sake. By the time the killer is identified, most of us are ready to give up. And it seems as if the Larsens too are ready to move on. What I can't get over is how little I felt involved with the family and what they were going through. Even some newspaper reports do better than this.
 
All in all - quite disappointing.
 
Similar themed book recommendation: We Disappear by Scott Heim
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abbyg7
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

5 stars
 
A Family Tragedy
 
I loved this book and found it difficult to put down.   The story revolves around the family and friends of Kim Larson, a teenager who suddenly goes missing.  Those close to Kim handle the situation in different ways from physically searching, getting involved with media events and withdrawing into themselves.  Even though the book is not told as emotionally as many other books covering the same subject matter, I felt very involved in the story.  I really cared about the characters and the outcome.  Stewart O'Nan writes in a stark style, but I  felt like I was right there with the family.  I think Mr. O'Nan has become one of my favorite writers.
 
Other recomendations:  The Night Country by Stewart O'Nan,  The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski,  After River by Donna Milner
CAG
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CAG
Posts: 218
Registered: ‎01-15-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

[ Edited ]
I give this book five stars.
 
True-to-life suspense!
 
Having previously not read anything by Stewart O'Nan, I was impressed. "Songs for the Missing" has made me a fan of this author. This is a unique and well written study of how a family in a small community copes when a child goes missing. Just like in real life, sometimes things happen that make no sense. I loved Mr. O'Nan's writing style and his character development. I will highly recommend this book  to family and friends.
 
Other books I recommend are "Child 44" by Tom Rob Smith, "Sail" by James Patterson and Howard Roughan and "Forever Odd"  by Dean Koontz.


Message Edited by CAG on 06-24-2008 04:48 PM
CAG
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GrammiT
Posts: 30
Registered: ‎03-20-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

I give Songs for the Missing 3 stars ***.

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.

Susan T
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LucyintheOC
Posts: 69
Registered: ‎03-05-2008
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

Four Stars for the book. Five Stars for O'Nan's writing style.
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Margaret42
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

Something is missing
 
3 stars
 
The book begins as a thoroughly engrossing story of a young woman who mysteriously disappears on a summer afternoon. This book does a great job of exploring the feelings and reactions of a family and an entire community as they cope with such an occurence.  What unfolds is completely unexpected, and leaves everyone at a loss, perhaps even the reader.
 
Margie.
 
m a r g a r e t~
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Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007
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Hauntingly true-to-life mystery

5 stars
 
Hauntingly true-to-life mystery
 
I was drawn immediately into the story that Stewart O'Nan tells about how the Larsen family and their missing daughter Kim's friends cope with her disappearance.   The author takes the reader along through the emotional highs and lows as the family and friends search, deal with what they see as the lack of help from the police, and cope with the media and the community.   At times, I needed to set the book aside for awhile, because the emotions were so real. 
 
I highly recommend Songs for the Missing, and cannot wait to read more by this author.
 
Books I recommend: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield; Atonement by Ian McEwan; The Red Tent by Anita Diamant; Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir; The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty
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mrsvaljones
Posts: 29
Registered: ‎12-24-2007
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Emotionally Intense

4 Stars
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 mrsvaljones@netzero.net
Valerie Jones
"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams..." -Dr. Seuss
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Gracie136
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎12-22-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

I am not sure how I feel about Songs for the Missing. It was compelling...I could not put it down. The premise was interesting...the effect on the various family members. But I kept thinking I was missing something in the story. I kept paging back through what I had already read. There were too many questions left at the end. I kept reading because I thought everything would be answered by the end....so I was left feeing a little confused and not satisfied. I do like the author's writing and have ordered a couple more books.

I just finished One Last Cuckoo by Kate Malloy. It is new I think and very good.
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