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


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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: 8.3 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #397,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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

I really wanted to like this book; however, the narration was too distant.
Karenlovestoread
Not only did she carry the burdens of her love-lacking childhood but she felt that her husband didn't really understand the pain she carried after a significant loss.
Courtney~MustReadBooksOrDie
This girl then disappears and we don't find out until almost the end of the book what happened to her.
Sandra K. Stiles

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 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.
[Read more at thisismysymphony.blogspot.com]
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6 of 7 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 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Caitlin Martin VINE VOICE on November 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I was shocked by how much I loved this book. I usually go into a book with just a few preconceived notions - usually formed from the plot description and a bit by the cover and genre, sometimes through the book's buzz. I didn't know anything about The Longings of Wayward Girls when I grabbed it. The plot sounded decent, the cover wasn't all that interesting, I figured it would be a mid-range thriller - fun to read and entertaining. What I did not expect was the depth that this novel conveys - I was captured in the first few pages and both couldn't put it down and was torn by reading it too fast because I knew I'd be sad when it ended.

The Longings of Wayward Girls is all love, lust, loss, and memory. In the wake of the delivery of a stillborn child, Sadie Watkins is trying to hold on to herself and her identity. Her grief is enormous and colors everything she does making it difficult for her to be a mother to her living children, a partner to her husband, alive in her own life. She is a well of sorrow and into this emptiness comes Ray Filley, a childhood crush returned to town with whom Sadie begins an affair. The affair triggers Sadie's memory back to her childhood and a prank she and a friend played on another girl - that girl disappeared shortly after the denouement of the prank and this sense that she may have played a part in the girl's disappearance is yet another grief that Sadie has carried around and that has disconnected her from her life. Layer upon layer Ms. Brown reveals the affect of loss on a place and on people - everyone is effected by what happened whether they were there at the time or not because that's how tragedy works - its traces linger in the people touched by it and through them it touches everyone.

Time and narrative shift as Ms.
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