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Songs for the Missing Hardcover – 30 Oct 2008

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Hardcover, 30 Oct 2008
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books; First Printing edition (30 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067002032X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670020324
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 2.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,424,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Aran on 30 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
A simple intrigue (young girl goes missing and how her family reacts to her disappearance) but superbe storytelling. O'Nan shows how the different characters react, her parents, her sister and her friends. He brilliantly recounts the way in which each protagonist reacts to loss, especially of this nature. I was enthralled by the writing, quietly beautiful and very exact prose. It is a moving, very humane story, without pathos and cheap tricks. Highly recommended. Quite simply, this was my first O'Nan book. I immeadiately went off and bought everything else he has written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jackson day on 21 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm shocked Penquin haven't promoted this guy O'Nan in the UK. More shocked to find you can't get half his books here!

I agree with all the reviews - most of which, including the professional critiques, do capture the brilliance of this story and its telling. There are four pages of quotes from reviews at the beginning of this book in praise, all of them say something different, all of them can't say enough and all of them are right ... this novel is good, real good

The tale is simple: a teenage girl goes missing - what effect does this have on her family and friends as they try and make sense of what's happened. But the writing of this tale is what reading is all about ... it moves you ... and if fiction is supossed to enhance our understanding of other people and make us more emapthetic then this is a fine example...

There are lots of stories about kids going missing but they are usually - though they have their merits - melodramatic and played for thrills. this is different. I mean ... wow and (confession) until he appeared on I'd never heard of O'Nan before - I just ordered the rest of his work.

Buy it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 77 reviews
49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
How sudden loss affects a family 3 Sept. 2008
By C. Anderson - Published on
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.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Tough Topic - Well Done 9 Nov. 2008
By My2Cents - Published on
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.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
too bad 9 Jun. 2009
By Ryan Van Baalen - Published on
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*
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Feels very real 17 Feb. 2009
By Z Hayes - Published on
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.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Exceptionally dull narrative, flat characters 30 Jan. 2009
By Heather Bottoms - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I found this book dull from the beginning, but kept waiting for it to pick up. When it didn't, I felt like I'd committed too much time not to see it through. So I did indeed finish, and the ending was just as unsatisfying as its beginnng. The characters were flat and generic, and I had a hard time mustering sympathy for any of them (especially the mother, who I found completely unlikeable) simply because they did not seem real enough to ellict any concern.

The narrative was simply painful. I realize that O'Nan was trying to create the dragging limbo of their life and that his eternal descriptions of their everyday excistence was suppose to bring realism to the experience. But his narrative is delivered with such mind-numbing, unimaginative detail that I thought I might throw myself under a bus. It was like reading 50 pages of mapquest directions. The play by play of Lindsey's driving test, the glory of working at Quiznos, every single purchase Fran made at the went on and on.

And while I realizie that the disappearance of Kim is merely a backdrop to the real story - the family and friends left behind - the very little that does happen in the case is not even given to us in any detail whatsoever. Tidbits tossed out as bait to string us along, giving us false hope that there really might be something worth reading if we just give it time. But no. And don't even get me started on the ending. Just more of the same drivel with no real feeling of resolution.

Just several hours of my time wasted. Yikes.
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