06-25-2008 10:13 PM
06-26-2008 02:23 AM
The second was J.P.
The third was Connie at the hospital.
The fourth was the police.” (*pg 15)
I admit that I’ve been putting off reading this book. By reading the back blurb I could tell that it would be a depressing read. “Songs for the Missing” is the story of a girl named Kim, and what happens to her family, friends, and community when she goes missing. Neither I, nor anyone in my family, have ever had to experience the disappearance of a friend or family member, for which I am extremely thankful- especially after reading this book. I cannot imagine going through what Kim’s family did.
My issues with this book were few and far in between– oddly enough mainly the beginning and the ending. I felt that we were overloaded with details in the first few pages. It was too much at once, and I really had to push through them. It did pick up after that, and I found it hard to put the book down. As for the ending, I would have preferred if the book had ended without the last two chapters. To me they felt if they had just been tacked on as an afterthought. They weren’t bad, just different, and maybe unnecessary. (Just my opinion of course.) My only other problem with the book was the shift of point of view in the chapters. It at times felt jarring, and took a minute to figure out who was telling the story. However, it was enlightening to see through the eyes of different characters. I particularly found J.P’s (Kim’s boyfriend) point of view the most interesting.
The story itself was hard to read at times. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for somebody who has had a disappearance of a friend or family member. I got teary-eyed at a couple of spots. The grief, the denial, the searches, the fliers, the volunteers… it was a lot to take in. O’Nan’s use of details make us feel like we are there– you can feel the bushes scrape your leg as you search through the wood, your heart leaps into your throat everytime the phone rings… But from tips to clues, to trying to guess who was guilty-if anyone- overall I felt the story flowed nicely. Even more interesting was the metamorphosis of Kim’s sister and parents.
I think I would recommend this book, so long as the person is aware of the subject matter and believes they can handle it. This is the first of O’Nan’s work that I’ve picked up, but I will definitely be looking for some of his others. (From the back cover: Stewart O’Nan is the author of eleven novels, most recently Last Night at the Lobster, a story collection, and two works of nonfiction. He lives with his family in Connecticut)
*These lines may change in the final publication of the book.
06-26-2008 09:22 AM
06-26-2008 10:21 AM
06-26-2008 11:41 AM
5 Stars *****
Tragedy In An Ordinary American Family
In the opening chapter of Songs for the Missing it is summer…July 2005. Kim Larsen is celebrating that last summer at home in Kingsville, Ohio, with her “amigos” from high school. In the fall she and her friends will leave, off to college, to continue their education with family blessings and hopes. And Kim hopes to become a “private, independent person”. But then…Kim vanishes. Her family and her friends begin a summer of searching…hoping to find Kim and resolving to keep their memories vibrant.
In a concise, consistent “voice” author Stewart ONan weaves Kims disappearance through the lives of Kingsville. Kims parents struggle to find their daughter, her sister arrives at a logical conclusion and Kims secrets with her friends are revealed. Yet it is the reader who delivers and confronts the emotions…fear, disillusionment, anger, denial, fatigue and grief.
Songs for the Missing is an intriguing story of an event in the life of an ordinary family and community…it can capture your logic and emotions quickly. I would recommend this novel for its unique approach to each reader. Since this is my first ONan novel, I will add him to my list of favorite authors.
06-26-2008 06:35 PM
06-26-2008 07:09 PM
06-26-2008 11:00 PM - edited 06-26-2008 11:01 PM
In the summer of her 18th year, Kim Larsen disappears without a trace - leaving behind friends and family who are bewildered and hurting. This is not an unusual story. It is a story we see every day in America - the young women filled with potential disappearing into the darkness of uncertainty. Many are never found. Many are found murdered or raped. It is an old story. Stewart O’Nan, with his refined and elegant prose, takes this story and makes it unforgettable.
Songs for the Missing is about those left behind. It is about relationships and expectations and faith and the very human need to know why and where. The characters in this beautifully written novel include Kim’s mother Fran, her sister Lindsey (only 15 when Kim goes missing), her father Ed, and friends - J.P., Elise and Nina. Each character deals with Kim’s disappearance differently, and as the months rolls into years they each come to terms with it in their own unique way. My heart felt broken by Ed - the father who searches relentlessly for the daughter he could not keep safe and who wishes for her to come to him in his dreams.
One reason he didn’t take the pill was that he longed for a dream of Kim. He didn’t expect her to tell him what had happened, he just wanted to see her again, to be in her presence as if she were alive and none of this had happened. Every night he went to bed hoping she’d come to him. Every morning he was disappointed. -From Songs for the Missing-
This novel touched my heart, especially because of my own involvement with Search and Rescue. O’Nan got it perfectly when he describes the searches, the role of law enforcement and the nearly unbearable hope of the lost one’s family which permeates every search. As the novel unfolds, I found myself immersed in the emotions of the characters, hoping they would find Kim and come to a resolution.
O’Nan has written a tender, sensitive and all too real novel about what happens when a loved one disappears. Highly recommended.
Message Edited by wendyroba on 06-26-2008 11:01 PM
06-27-2008 10:26 AM
Songs for the Missing
Kim Larsen is simply enjoying the summer before she heads off to college - just an all-american teen. Then one day Kim fails to show up for her shift at the local Conoco, and the nightmare for her family begins. The police think she has run away, but her family knows better. They organize search parties and television appearances to bring attention to Kim and her plight. But as the weeks wear on, and the tip line brings in one dead end after another, Kim's family has to face the fear that they least want to voice.
O'Nan has done a wonderful job portraying the day-to-day life-cycle of this type of tragedy and its effect on those left behind. When reading the book you get the distinct feeling that this is exactly what it would be like to go about locating your missing daughter. Where the book falls short is in conveying the depth of the emotions the friends and family of this missing child must surely experience once the search parties have gone home and the t.v. cameras have left, which has the effect of consigning the reader to the sidelines to watch the story unfold instead of bringing them right into the midst of it.
06-27-2008 02:40 PM
06-27-2008 03:43 PM
Songs for the Missing is not the story of Kim Larsen, recent graduate bound for college. Even though the story opens in her viewpoint, she’ll soon be silenced. And all that will be left behind is her memory. Her parents, sister, boyfriend, friends and community will begin a massive search for her. It’s their songs Stewart O’Nan wants us to hear.
Her mother and father will struggle and falter for a time before they grow into advocates. Her boyfriend will wrestle with guilt and her friends will worry about saving themselves. Her sister will grow from a fifteen year old in the shadow of her older sister to a young woman forever transformed by the time her sister was missing.
This reviewer’s not read any other Stewart O’Nan novels, but will surely be looking to read a few more. The thing Mr. O’Nan does best is tell the story in a matter-of-fact tone that is both tight and unsentimental. This is a rare skill for today’s novelists; one I truly appreciate. The story takes place over a number of years, but the passage of time passes effortlessly for the reader. Because it is so tight, I suspect that some will feel that it lacked something in depth, a fair argument. Songs for the Missing is a character driven, slow plotted story. The narrative is propelled by the voices Kim left behind, not by their actions. Like the story itself, the ending is abrupt and unyielding, a good match for the tone of most of the novel.
When my own children were young, I avoided all books on this topic in fear of making the thought real. It seems, when we imagine this horror, that we would never survive, but what Songs for the Missing does best is to show us the everyday lives of a family taking each step in that horror filled world.
Recommended for readers who enjoy slower paced, character driven stories or readers who have a special interest in missing persons, or readers who enjoy stories examining family/community relationships.
06-27-2008 04:25 PM
06-27-2008 04:31 PM
A girl goes missing. Family and friends struggle to deal with the thought that they many never see her again. A suspense story with family drama and loss mixed in? I don’t think the author was able to pull this one off. This is a slow moving book that will put you to sleep at different points in the story.
Kim has a boyfriend, a job and a good family, but one day she goes missing. Her friends and family gather to go out and find her on their own when the police leads go cold. Kim’s dad feels he must lead the search and has to keep looking until she is found. Her mom stays home and does the media and web site work to keep Kim’s name out there. Kim’s younger sister seems lost in the whole experience, unsure of what to do. The story leads you in to their lives and those of her friends to discover the secrets and feelings they are having throughout the search for Kim.
I was at a loss for words and unsatisfied by the time I finished this book. Where was the suspense or thriller part of the book that the synopsis described? The characters in the book seemed to be skimmed over and you never really got to know many of them in depth. I felt lost most of the time with certain thoughts being alluded to, but nothing was ever explained. The story falls flat in the second half of the book where we get more surface reactions from the family and friends about what has happened to Kim. The worst part was the ending. I was reading along and all of a sudden I felt like I ran in to a wall. I kept looking to see if I was missing some pages at the end, but I wasn’t.
“The Songs for the Missing” was missing a big chunk of depth to the story. I can not say I would recommend this book, but you be the judge. I would recommend having another book ready to read because this one will leave you wanting to read a better book.
2 stars * *
06-27-2008 04:49 PM
06-27-2008 05:02 PM
06-27-2008 07:23 PM
06-27-2008 07:44 PM
06-28-2008 10:16 AM
06-28-2008 11:29 AM
06-28-2008 07:41 PM - edited 06-28-2008 07:45 PM
Message Edited by petitefleur on 06-28-2008 07:45 PM