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cheer4lvw
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

Interesting read
 
When reading the description of the book, I was very unsure of how I would feel about it.  I read for entertainment mainly and mostly read upbeat stories.  As I read the book I was interested, but not completely drawn in.  The changing point of view distracted me at first.  As I continued reading I became more invested in the characters and fell into reading from their different voices.  But the end of the book seemed very rushed and left many questions unanswered for me.  All in all this was a decent book but I probably would not read it again.  3 stars.
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Kegsoccer
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎04-14-2008
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

4 stars: What would you do if your child went missing?
 
 
"The first person her mother called was Nina.

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)

(Thanks to Barnes&Noble’s FirstLook Program, Viking, and Stewart O’Nan)

*These lines may change in the final publication of the book.

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Popper19
Posts: 199
Registered: ‎07-24-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

4 Stars!
 
Compelling read - I was hooked from the first line
 
Great book, sad content.  I recommend this book to all my fellow readers.
Frequent Contributor
READERJANE
Posts: 63
Registered: ‎01-21-2008
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

FIve Stars
 
A New Way of Looking
 
Stewart O'Nan has written a haunting book about child abduction. The child does not have to be a four or five year old to be abducted. O'Nan deals with the topic of older children who are abducted in a way that tears your heart out. The passion ans emotions that are aroused when any child is taken are the same and O'Nan dopes a superb job of exploring and describing those emotions. This is a must read for any one who cares about people and how they interact with each other, especially in a crisis. His writing is sharp. A good book.
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nhawkinsII
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

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.

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lamorgan
Posts: 62
Registered: ‎01-19-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

A family's journey
 
4 stars
 
"Songs for the Missing" reveals a story that could be every family's worst nightmare. A child disappears without a trace and there is the possibility she (or he) is simply a runaway.
How do authorities relate to the family when they have their doubts about the disappearance? How do friends and acquaintances step up and help without being judgmental?
The author of this book was able to bring into play the emotions that made the story believable, yet it seems to be lacking in intensity. I would consider the book almost as a first draft. In other words, the premise is there and it's a good one ... now, take it back to the drawing board and make me feel what's happening.
All in all, it's a decent book and I did enjoy reading it. Although I had issues with some of the twists and turns, I would still recommend it to others.
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momgee
Posts: 584
Registered: ‎07-24-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

Something is missing,alright.
 
 Mr. O'Nan is an accomplished writer and has an impressive number of books to his credit but I felt this one fell short. Songs for the Missing started out so slowly for me, I could not engage in the characters at all, finding them flat and just too one dimensional.  I had hoped the peripheral characters would have been better developed and the main characters had a lot more soul to them. I actually had to put the book away for several weeks and then begin again to see if there were any redeeming qualities. I have to admit, the book did pick up in the middle and I began to feel more of the character's pain. Just when it  seems like the author is starting to get in stride all of a sudden it was the ending with too many implausible events. It felt like O'Nan stopped writing and didn't know how to resolve it so he got another author to come in and whip up the "solution" aka Mimi and her finding Kim. All in all, I would rate this book 3 stars, okay, but I would not recommend it.
Kaye
 
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
Groucho Marx
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wendyroba
Posts: 58
Registered: ‎02-21-2007
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Tender and sensitive...and all too real

[ Edited ]
Rated: 5 Stars

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
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Readingrat
Posts: 72
Registered: ‎09-26-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

4 stars
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.
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mwinasu
Posts: 149
Registered: ‎02-02-2008
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

I think the author needs more practice with this particular  type of writing.  Although some things are well done, it is not a consistant read.  There are too many cliches, and the characters do not inspire empathy.  The difference between this and the type of writing that I associate with the Japanese style lies in the quality of the storyline.  Nothing in this story made me examine my own beliefs.  It made no challanges and left no real impressions.  It is a T.V. dinner of a read.
 
2 stars
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Tasses
Posts: 117
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

My full review can also be viewed on my website: www.randomwonder.com or my book blog www.manyaquaintandcuriousvolume.blogspot.com

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.
See all my reviews at: Reading Rumpus and Many A Quaint & Curious Volume
Reader
chicobonnie
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎04-08-2008
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

4 Stars
A Song from the Heart
 
SONGS FOR THE MISSING by Stewart O’Nan is a powerful story about the disappearance of an 18 year old girl from a small Midwestern town.  Kim Larsen has just graduated from high school and is working at the Conoco, “an oasis of light drawing cars off the highway like the muffleheads that fluttered against the windows.”  One summer day she just disappears, leaving her family and friends and even the entire community to deal with the search to find her and eventually to deal with losing her.  As the little sister to a “perfect sister” myself, I was particularly interested in how the author developed the Lindsey character.  While reading the book, I often found myself wondering how I would have handled matters if my sister had disappeared like Kim.  O’Nan did a wonderful job of introducing his characters and writing about them in such a way that I felt early on that I knew them intimately.  Since the book covers several years, it was interesting to see how the people close to Kim were transformed by her disappearance.  I was captivated by O’Nan’s writing style and how he chose to title the chapters of the book.  This is the first book by Mr. O’Nan that I have read, but it certainly will not be the last.
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AllieK
Posts: 55
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

Something more than the song is missing....

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 * *
Reader 2
lesleyhess
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎01-30-2008
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

4 stars
 
Every parent's nightmare
 
The story line of Stewart O'Nan's latest novel, Songs for the Missing, could have been plucked right out of the national news headlines.  Almost daily there are stories about the disappearance of a beloved child. As the mother of two young women and a dog named Cooper, this book struck a chord in me.  As I read, I was constantly thinking about what my family and I would do and how we would cope if we were in a similar situation.  I think Mr. O'Nan did a good job describing the feelings of the characters.  I felt their pain and frustration.  The book spans several years and I feel that the author rushed the ending.  While I was left with a few unanswered questions at the end of the book, the author sufficiently answered enough to satisfy me.  All in all it was a good book and I would recommend it to others.  I definitely plan to read more books by Stewart O'Nan, starting with Last Night at the Lobster.
 
Recommended reading:  Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
 
Contributor
jforever52
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

4 Stars
 
Fear of the Unknown, Realized
 
Stewart O'Nan explores the complex issue of dealing with the disappearance of loved-one by the family members who remain.  The book, Songs for the Missing, begins with the disappearance of 18-year old Kim, and then shifts its focus on her parents and younger sister as they search for her while at the same time grieve for her loss.  At the heart of the matter is the gut wrenching feeling of loss, helplessness and hope manifested differently in each of the central characters.  Kim's younger sister, Lindsay, turns inward in an attempt to find normalcy in a world were the rules have changed.  Kim's mother focuses her attention on organizing a search at the national and local levels and as a result must learn to live with the constant reminder that her daughter is missing.  Kim's father, determined to find his daughter, must deal simply with the reality that he may never know what really happened to Kim.
 
Songs for the Missing provides insight into the hard existence that must be had for those family members of the many missing individuals in our society today.  The reader leaves the book with empathy for those who have really lived through such a tragic situation. 
 
Other books I would recommend:  Fahrenheit 451, World Without End, March
Inspired Contributor
Linda10
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎10-02-2007
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Re: Very Disappointing

I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that, when I read a book, I love to totally immerse myself into the situation and all the characters involved.  I want to love certain characters and even hate others.  This book was written in such a way that it didn't allow me to do that.  The main theme centers around a teen-aged girl who goes missing and what the rest of the family goes through as they try to find her.  You would think there would be a tremendous amount of sympathy and compassion as one reads this book.  You would think.
I didn't like anyone in the story and, therefore, could not like the book.  I had to read a second book while I was reading this one to offset the drudgery.
 
2 Stars
 
Inspired Correspondent
Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

I give this book 4 stars.
 
It was well paced and interesting. Stewart O'Nan hooked me from the beginning and kept me reading all the way though. It "felt" like a true crime novel, being dead on about the family dynamics, small town law enforcement, and the search for the missing process.
 
If the book had a flaw, in my opinion, it did not have a point of view character whose emotions were explored enough for readers to really feel the pain and horror of a missing person to those who loved her.
 
Other recommended books: The Innocent Man by John Grisham, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, White Christmas, Bloody Christmas by Trudy Smith.
Contributor
daylilies1126
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

Four Stars ****
 
Songs for the Missing was a deeply haunting and engrossing novel about the after-effects of a disappearance of someone close to the characters of the novel.  It explored the realistic reactions that family and friends have to the tragic event, and showed how different people intimately connected to the missing person can have completely different reactions.  I particularly enjoyed the scenes with the family, and how each one of them was dealing with the situation differently, and no one could understand the others' reactions.  The book really dealt with the fact that you never know someone, even if they are part of your family, and that you don't realize how much someone impacts your life until they are gone.  Throughout the novel, I found myself thinking about what I would do in a similar situation, and which character I would relate with.  The emotional landscape of this novel was fully developed; however, I felt that there were too many characters to fully develop the reactions of many of them during the novel.  I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of the friends and their reactions to her disappearance.  Also, I felt that even though part of the point was how little the police seem to do from a family's perspective on a disappearance, I think the novel needed to show some of the police work as the story developed.  I agree with many reviewers that the ending seemed rushed, and just kind of ended.  The book spent many pages dedicated to before the disappearance and immediately afterwards that the resolution was not as satisfying as I would have hoped.  Overall, I enjoyed the novel and its thought-provoking subject matter.
Contributor
Redhead525
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎03-03-2008
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

3 stars
 
Songs for the Missing left me feeling confused.  While Stewart O'Nan does an excellent job of describing the events surrounding Kim's disappearance and the subsequent search, his attempts to help us understand both the main characters and the peripheral ones fell flat.  I finished the book with so many unanswered questions about both events and characters that I was a bit disappointed.  I was confused about why an author would leave so many loose ends, so many things unresolved.  I appreciate that in many ways, real cases of disappearance do leave family and friends with unanswered questions and a lack of resolution.  Perhaps that is what Mr. O'Nan was striving for here.
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petitefleur
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Your Reviews of Song for the Missing

[ Edited ]
2 Stars
 
MISSING THE POINT
 
Sorry, but I just couldn't get in to this book.  After about the first 1/3 of the story I began to loose interest.  By the time I reached the abrupt ending I felt completely unsatisfied.  This just wasn't my cup of tea.:smileysad:


Message Edited by petitefleur on 06-28-2008 07:45 PM
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