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The Fates Will Find Their Way: A Novel Hardcover – January 25, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Pittard leads the reader into a slew of possibilities spinning out from a 16-year-old girl's disappearance, in her intriguing, beguiling debut. After Nora Lindell goes missing on Halloween, stories about her disappearance multiply: she got into a car with an unknown man, she was seen at the airport, she simply walked away, she was abducted. Pittard dips into the points-of-view of various classmates to explore these possibilities and more. Perhaps Nora was murdered. One theory sends her to Arizona, where she raises twin daughters with a lover named Mundo, and another path leads her to a near-death experience in a cafe bombing in India. The story also outlines effects of the disappearance on Nora's family and classmates, who, even as they graduate, marry, and have children, never quite let go of Nora—possibly to avoid their own lives. Though the truth about Nora remains tantalizingly elusive—the reader is never quite sure what happened—the many possibilities are so captivating, and Pittard's prose so eloquent, that there's a far richer experience to be had in the chain of maybes and what-ifs than in nailing down the truth. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Lauded short story author Pittard’s carefully plotted first novel, centered on the aftermath of a 16-year-old girl’s disappearance, is interestingly told from the first-person plural point of view of the boys she left behind. Now grown men with wives and families, they have, for the most part, remained in the sleepy, unnamed mid-Atlantic town of their youth. With the imagination of their awkward, sheepish teenage selves, the book’s narrators, at once interchangeable and completely singular, imagine what has happened to Nora Lindell in the 30 or so years since she vanished. In endlessly revealing their elaborate conjectures, the boys-turned-men inadvertently tell their own story, which is, not surprisingly, the only place where Pittard draws any real conclusions in her quiet, satisfying tale. Of Nora we learn one thing for certain, that her disappearance continues to reverberate in the hearts and minds of those teenage boys she left behind, and that losing her and everything she represented placed a sad coda on every thought they’ve had since. --Annie Bostrom
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (January 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006199605X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061996054
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,286,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
How often, in this day and age, does an author find a completely original way to tell a story? Avid reader that I am, I'll tell you: Not very often. And how often, after reading a novel in a single sitting, do write an immediate review? Not very often. And how often does a debut novel--any novel--affect me this powerfully? Not very often.

This is my immediate reaction to The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard. It is, and is not, the story of the disappearance of sixteen-year-old Nora Lindell. More accurately, it is the story of the vacuum left in Nora's wake, and of how that vacuum is filled. The tale is told in reflection by the men who were the neighborhood boys that Nora left behind, and it is told entirely in the first person plural. If you're wondering how that sounds, it sounds like this:

"It seemed we had all finally stopped looking for her, asking about her. It was a sickness, a leftover from a youth too long protracted. Of course we still thought about her. Late at night, lying awake, especially in early autumn, when we could fall asleep for a few weeks with the bedroom windows open, the curtains pulled halfway, a breeze coming in and the occasional stray dry leaf, we still allowed ourselves the vague and unfair comparisons between what our wives were and what she might have been. At least we were able to acknowledge the futility of the fantasies, even if we still couldn't control them."

This novel is a collection of those boys' fantasies, the fleshed out conjectures based upon shreds of evidence presented by impeachable sources.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As Hamlet never said, "Maybe or not maybe? That is the question." In Hannah Pittard's THE FATES WILL FIND THEIR WAY, it's also the answer -- the word "maybe," I mean, which is ubiquitous throughout the narrative. Predicated on the disappearance of 16-year-old Nora Lindell, the short novel explores its impact on a collection of local boys who think, "Maybe this happened to Nora," and, "Maybe THAT happened to Nora." This, in short, is the novel's conceit. Each chapter plays out a possible narrative for poor Nora, some leading to her getting in a Catalina with a stranger, some seeing her out west with a doting Mexican man, one landing her in Mumbai, India, with a female lover, and some speculating on her early and violent demise. No one knows, but everyone has a theory, and every boy cherishes and shares his own, constantly revising and enhancing it as age overtakes him and his buddies. Who knows? "Maybe" one of them is true.

The book's opening words ("Some things were certain; they were undeniable, inarguable. Nora Lindell was gone, for one thing. There was no doubt about that.") are reminiscent of Charles Dickens' opening to A CHRISTMAS CAROL ("Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.") And, indeed, Nora's presence haunts proceedings as ably as Dickens' Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. This isn't a morality tale, however. It is very modern literary fiction and, as such, will attract fans of that genre, perhaps some familiar with Pittard's award-winning short stories. There's no question but the writing is fine in a minimalist way.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Fates Will Find Their Way, by Hannah Pittard, has an obvious precedent in Jeffrey Eugenidies The Virgin Suicides. Both make use of a plural, "we", narration and both spiral outward from a tragic event. In Eugenides' novel it was the suicide of five sisters; in Fates it is the unsolved disappearance of 16-year-old Nora Lindell. Pittard doesn't simply rewrite The Virgin Suicides, however. The Fates Will Find Their way is less about Norah and the events of her disappearance and much, much more about the group of boys who grew into that 40s wondering all that time what happened to her.

The novel moves back and forth between the narrators' adolescence and their gradual (very gradual) maturation until they become aware that suddenly adulthood has found them. Along they way, they make up stories about what "really" happened to Norah--she was pregnant and ran away, she married a Mexican, she moved to India--and deal with the (seeming) realities of adulthood: too-early deaths, adulteries, miscarriages, drug addiction, and even pedophilia.

I've got very mixed feelings about the book because as many things as they were to like, I found just as many to dislike. The narration and the tone, for instance, lent the book at times a misty, nostalgic, wistful feel that could be quite effective. But it was too much that kind of tone, too monotone, and it also made left me feeling removed not only from the action but from the characters as well; I simply didn't care much about what happened, or had happened, to any of them. Despite the bits of details on their lives, none of them stood out as individuals, which made it more difficult to care.
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