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The Longings of Wayward Girls: A Novel Paperback – July 2, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the age of 13, Sadie Watkins has always been on the lookout for excitement. She and her best friend Betty fill this desire by causing mischief such as stealing their mothers' cigarettes or sending fake love letters to a neighborhood outcast, a girl who then goes missing. Flash-forward to twenty20 years later, Sadie is married and living a comfortable life as a mother to two young children and wife to an attorney, but her need for adventure still remainshas not left. When her childhood crush Ray Filley returns to town, Sadie is swept up into an affair that disrupts the lives of those around her. Details about her mother's death and the missing girl start to emerge and this is something Sadie is not quite ready to face. In her full-length -novel debut, Brown (Little Sinners and Other Stories) writes from the perspective of Sadie's past and present in alternating chapters. She seamlessly joins the events to create a story full of tension and suspense with an ending that is unexpected. Agent: Samantha Shea, Georges Borchardt, Inc. (July)

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Nine-year-old Laura Loomis disappeared from the small town of Wintonbury, Connecticut, in 1974; she was last seen walking toward home. Chilling newspaper clippings about the missing girl frame Brown’s debut, which centers on imaginative 12-year-old Sadie Watkins, a Laura Loomis look-alike from the same town who is navigating the shifting landscape between childhood and adolescence. In chapters that alternate between the summer of 1979 and the early 2000s, when Sadie is grown with children of her own, long-buried secrets from the past begin to surface in the present. In 1979, Sadie and her friend Betty play a prank on a neighborhood girl named Francie, writing letters to her from an invented farmboy, who invites her to run away with him. The harmless joke is anything but, and Francie, like Laura before her, disappears. Alongside the story of the missing girls is one about mothers and daughters, and Sadie realizes much later how her flawed mother has shaped her. Brown is meticulously detailed in her description of a small New England town where neighbors host communal cookouts, and the only threat to safety is the woods lurking just beyond. Using precise language, she explores the hazy edges of memory, the gnawing desire to escape circumstance, and the pervasiveness of one neighborhood’s secrets. The result is a nerve-racking, psychologically complex novel sure to haunt readers—especially those with dark secrets of their own. --Ann Kelley

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Original edition (July 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476724911
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476724911
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Karen Brown is the author of a novel, The Longings of Wayward Girls, and two short story collections--Little Sinners and Other Stories, which won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and was named a Best Book of 2012 by Publishers Weekly, and Pins and Needles: Stories, which was the recipient of AWP's Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. Her work has been featured in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, The New York Times, and Good Housekeeping. She teaches creative writing and literature at the University of South Florida.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ms. L. on July 31, 2013
Format: Paperback
Karen Brown's Longings of Wayward Girls is one of the only chick lit titles I've read this summer ... and it's a great one! Brown tells the story of Sadie at twelve and Sadie years later as wife and mother. Because what happened to Sadie then was haunting the Sadie now.

Sadie then was a bright, imaginative, and pretty girl--the ringleader of the neighborhood children in her hometown of Wintonbury. She writes the Christmas chorale, organizes the annual Haunted Woods, and plays endless hours of Old-Fashioned House. Her best friend Betty ever at her side,

Sadie's life in suburban Connecticut in the seventies is idyllic. Except for her pill-popping, alcoholic mom and the teenage boy she seduces. And the girl, Laura Loomis, who disappears one day, never to be found. Or the neighborhood outcast who, Sadie learns, is abused by her father. How about the unfathomable torment one girl can inflict upon another?

Sadie now is a pulled-together, fashionable stay-at-home-mom who still lives in Wintonbury (albeit in a newer upscale neighborhood) and whose life continues that idyll. Except for her grief over the still born daughter she mourns. Or her ineffectual paperdoll of a husband. And the suffocating boredom she feels. Enter Ray Filley, a crush from her tween-hood, back in town after his father's death--single, handsome, infatuated with Sadie, and dangerous. It's when Sadie takes up with Ray that her then and now collide in a harrowing way. I must admit that at times I thought I'd mistakenly picked up a suspense novel and I read the end of the novel flipping pages as quickly as I could.

Karen Brown has a keen eye for the inner world of women--our boredom and frustration, the endless demands and stalled careers--and the tolls we pay to live out the life of June Cleaver. I can't think of a better book to discuss in Book Club. It would be one long night.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Bartolone on July 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
The Longings of Wayward Girls

By: Karen Brown

Published by: Washington Square Press

Reviewed by: Melissa

The Longings of Wayward Girls is a psychological thriller rife with complex layers that made me reflect and successfully maintained a constant level of suspense, keeping me on the edge of my seat. Brown brings many of the emotional and moral dilemmas many woman face as mothers, wives, friends and daughters to life with realism, respect and humility. She has crafted a cast of characters who, while not always likable, are consistently honest and relatable for good or bad.

Brown does an excellent job of portraying the the difficulties women often face and how we either learn to cope with dissatisfaction or risk the happiness of others for the sake of our own, all neatly packaged within a taunting mystery. The narrative seamlessly weaves between the past and present of Sadie Watkins, a girl who struggles to accept her dysfunctional relationship with her troubled mother in her youth and later battles with the repercussions of following in her mother's footsteps. The reader finds Sadie as an adult woman, married with two small children, a supportive husband and a recent miscarriage. Finding it difficult to come to terms with her loss, she finds herself on a collision course very similar to that of her ill-fated mother and it is up to her to find the strength and understanding to break the chain. Will she be able to resolve her the issues of her troubled past and begin living her life out of her mother's shadow?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Literary Marie on July 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
The woods were a place of imaginative games and innocent wanderers. The swampy area was a harmless place until nine-year-old Laura Loomis went missing in 1974. The search continued for days with no clues found. A few years later, Sadie and her best friend are playing a harmless prank on a girl from the neighborhood. The result...the neighborhood girl disappears like Laura Loomis did.

Fast forward to 2002 and Sadie Watkins is used to being mistaken for one of the missing girls. In fact, saying "I'm not Laura Loomis" has become second nature to her. A boy from her old neighborhood comes to town sparking all of Sadie's old memories. The unsolved mystery and summer prank resurfaces.

The Longings of Wayward Girls had so much potential. The guilt of a grown woman over the disappearance of a girl, possibly her fault. The same grown woman grieving over a miscarriage while figuring out what really happened that summer. I really wanted to like this book. I realize I am in the minority with not caring for it. The premise sounded really good but it fell flat. There was no climax. My reaction to the ending was, "Oh." -___- Reiterating, this is just my opinion that does not mirror the majority. I longed for a better story line to The Longings of Wayward Girls but others may enjoy it.

Literary Marie of Precision Reviews
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Karenlovestoread on September 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like this book; however, the narration was too distant. I was unable to connect with the characters. Plus, the story ine moved backwards and forwards in time and that made things murky. Normally I get a feel for the voice. Certainly the voice of the main character, but it was too much of a chore. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the book.
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