Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan was originally published in 2008. My hardcover copy has 287 pages. Songs for the Missing is another finely drawn, intimate character study by O'Nan. This time it is the Larsen family, whose daughter Kim disappears one summer when on her way to work. This is not a crime novel or a mystery; it is an honest character study of a family involved in a mystery and how they and their daughters friends cope with the devastating effects of having a missing child and friend. If you are looking for a fast-paced thriller, don't bother; this isn't about the search as much as it concerns the numbing effects of living while waiting for bad news. Excellent novel. Rating: 5.
Synopsis from cover:
An moving portrait of a family and a town in the wake of a daughter’s disappearance.
“It was the summer of her Chevette, of J.P. and letting her hair grow.” It was also the summer when, without warning, college-bound Kim Larsen disappears from her quiet Lake Erie town. Her parents, her little sister, her best friends and new boyfriend now must do everything to find her. As time passes and local search parties give way to wider television appearances, private investigations unearth dirty secrets, and we follow those closest to Kim as they struggle to maintain hope, and finally, as the news cameras turn away, to hang on to both her and themselves. Stark and honest, this is an intimate account of what happens behind and beyond the headlines when those who stay after the media leaves deal with the real consequences of a very American tragedy.
Stewart O’Nan’s new novel opens with the suspense of a thriller and soon deepens into an affecting family drama of loss. On the heels of his critically acclaimed and nationally bestselling Last Night at the Lobster, Songs for the Missing is a wrenching, heartfelt account of one family’s quest to find their child. With a soulful empathy for his ordinary heroes, O’Nan draws us into the world of this small Ohio town and lets us to feel a part of Kim's inner circle.
"July, 2005. It was the summer of her Chevette, of J.P. and letting her hair grow. The last summer, the best summer, the summer they'd dreamed of since eighth grade, the high and pride of being seniors lingering, an extension of their best year." opening
"Trucks lit like spaceships shuddering under her feet, dragging their own hot wind, their trailers full of unknown cargo. Slowly, night by night, the dream of leaving was coming true - with her family's blessing, their very highest hopes." pg. 1
"She'd worked seven days a week since graduation and hadn't missed a shift. Later the police would call this strict pattern a contributing factor." pg. 2
" 'Just let us know where you're going to be,' her mother said, as if that was the least she could do. What she meant was, stay out of the police log in the Star-Beacon so you don't hurt your father's business." pg. 4
"Not knowing any better, they did what he told them. The first thing they needed to do was call around and let everyone know they were looking for her." pg. 29
"She was slow to pick up on jokes, and often found herself rewinding conversations to see where she'd lost the meaning. People thought she was weird and shy, but really she was just dense and self-centered. Like now with Kim, she knew she should be feeling more than this." pg. 34
"On top of that, he knew the secret they were keeping was nothing compared to Kim being missing, and felt selfish and small for protecting it." pg. 37
"The technique was familiar to Ed - burying the client's naive question beneath an avalanche of shoptalk. As in any business, flashing a little knowledge with nothing to back it up was a red flag to a professional. He had thought the guy doddering and incompetent; now he realized how truly screwed they were." pg. 49
"Somehow - as if she subscribed to a satellite radio station dedicated to their old lives - she had news of neighbors and childhood friends he could no longer recall." pg. 158