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Songs for the Missing: A Novel Hardcover – October 30, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (October 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067002032X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670020324
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #999,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. O'Nan proves that uncertainty can be the worst punishment of all in this unflinching look at an unraveling family. In the small town of Kingsville, Ohio, 18-year-old Kim Larsen—popular and bound for college in the fall—disappears on her way to work one afternoon. Not until the next morning do her parents, Ed and Fran, and 15-year-old sister, Lindsay, realize Kim is missing. The lead detective on the case tells the Larsens that since Kim is an adult, she could, if the police find her, ask that the police not disclose her location to her parents. When Kim's car later turns up in nearby Sandusky, Ed, desperate to help, joins the official search. Meanwhile, Fran stays home putting all her energy into community fund-raisers, and Lindsay struggles to maintain a normal life. Through shifting points of view, chiefly those of the shell-shocked parents and the moody Lindsay, O'Nan raises the suspense while conveying the sheer torture of what it's like not to know what has happened to a loved one. When—if ever—do you stop looking? 6-city author tour. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Stewart O'Nan has quietly written his way to the top rank of American novelists working today, and Songs for the Missing showcases his skill for molding character-driven novels remarkable for their clarity of vision and an unflinching eye for situations that lay bare human emotion. There is little spectacular here, save for O'Nan's storytelling abilities and his uncanny knowledge of how one event can send out ripples that affect everyone in a small Midwestern town (incidentally, the author's old stomping grounds). Even more satisfying and heartbreaking is O'Nan's understanding of what happens when the lights dim, attention fades, and people are left to live their lives.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

Customer Reviews

These people are TOO MUCH like real people, so much so that they're boring.
Dave Schwinghammer
Kept waiting and waiting for something to happen in this book, but by about 2/3 of the way through I just had to give up and bring it back to the library unfinished.
Butch Sweaters
The author's smooth and comfortable style allow the reader to sink into the story, empathize with the characters, be a member of that family.
C. Anderson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By C. Anderson VINE VOICE on September 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Meet Kim Larsen. She is eighteen years old, pretty and popular, and about a month away from leaving for college and the wider world. She can hardly wait. Like most small town kids, she and her friends chafe from the sameness and boredom of daily life. They drink more than they should and experiment a bit with drugs. But they are good kids at heart and are so looking forward to going away, being on their own, growing up.

Then, somewhere in the short distance between her home and her workplace, she seemingly vanishes into thin air. No trace of her, or her car. No one has seen anything. She's just gone. This is the story of those left behind. The author changes the point of view for each chapter and the reader feels the reaction of each person: Mom, Dad, sister, best friend, boyfriend. We see how they react and try to cope with the reality of Kim's loss.

Her Mom Fran gets organized, makes lists, makes calls, starts a website, talks to the press.

Her Dad Ed gets outside, taking the lead in the numerous searches that start immediately and continue for months.

Her younger sister Lindsay retreats into herself, a book, her I-Pod, the tv, the computer. Anything to keep people away. Especially her parents who can't resist the impulse to smother their remaining child with protectiveness. More than anyone else, this is her story.

Young girls disappear every day, not only in the US but around the world. Many are never seen again and their fates are often never known. Songs for the Missing gives you a glimpse of the flattening anguish and grief that the loved ones suffer when this happens.

Despite the emotional subject matter, this book is a surprisingly easy read. The author's smooth and comfortable style allow the reader to sink into the story, empathize with the characters, be a member of that family. Stewart O'Nan is a talented writer who has written a book that will resonate long after you finish it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By My2Cents VINE VOICE on November 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What would do if your teen aged daughter disappeared without a trace? When--if ever--do you stop looking for her?

This is exactly what happens to Kim Larsen, age 18, popular, a small town Ohio girl just weeks before she is to leave for college. She spends an afternoon at the lake with her friends then never shows up for work that evening and is never seen again. It is not until the next morning that her parents, and 15 year old sister, realize Kim is missing.

The book starts out like a mystery, but it soon becomes very much a character study about how people act when a family is in crisis. When one person keeps themselves busy and involved every minute of the day, others may turn inward and shut the world out. What if normal grieving? Is there such a thing? Do remaining family members grow closer or more distant in times of crisis such as this. These are the questions I found myself thinking about as I read this book.

I expected that this book would be more of a mystery. So initially I was a bit disappointed, but it still was very very well written, and I am not sorry that I read it.

O'Nan is a really good author, and even when his books are not necessarily what you might have expected, I have always found them enjoyable.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Van Baalen on June 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I really can't put my finger on this one...

On one hand, I know the author was creating a sense of tedium trying to convey the empty and hopeless feeling of Kim's family.

On the other hand, this book was soooooooo boring. Like another reviewer said, I WANT TO KNOW more about Kim's friends and the secrets they had with the ex-marine. You might say O'Nan didn't fill us in because he wanted to leave us with wondering (much like Kim's parents)...maybe,I don't know.....BUT, if that was the case, then why did he spend countless pages detailing some girl's quest to put her dead mother's house on the market for 95k instead of the 89k that Ed suggested? How does that contribute to the story?

I know, I know...I just don't get it. The book is supposed to show us how the world keeps dragging along at its slow and uneventful pace even after a horrible abduction...but I could barely finish this one.

Even the last ten pages...hoping for a haunting conclusion, left me instead with nothing. *shrugs*
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Reading "Songs for the Missing" wasn't easy, in fact it was excruciating - the subject matter centering on a young girl's disappearance and the effect on her family, friends and community is heartrending and it was painful to read about these people coping with their loss and grief.

When 18-year-old Kim Larsen disappears from her small Ohio town of Kingsville, her family, friends and community are mobilized to quick action. But then time passes, and those close to Kim realise they need to make a conscientious attempt at getting back to a semblance of normality - her parents, her sister [who finds herself being overshadowed by her beautiful, popular sister even when she's missing], Kim's boyfriend, friends etc - the book basically follows what happens to people when someone they know goes missing, with no real resolution.

This is not a traditional thriller or crime procedural - there's not a set of clues that helps one determine Kim's fate. On the contrary, it's a searing narrative with characters that are very real and who try to put their lives together despite a great tragedy.
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More About the Author

Stewart O'Nan's award-winning fiction includes Snow Angels, A Prayer for the Dying, Last Night at the Lobster, and Emily, Alone. Granta named him one of America's Best Young Novelists. He lives in Pittsburgh.

www.stewart-onan.com

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