Thursday, July 10, 2008

Songs for the Missing - Stewart O'Nan

Well, huh. Usually, I try to avoid reading reviews about books before I review them (except for, of course, the review that sends me out to read the book in the first place), but when Lisa from Books on the Brain reviewed Songs for the Missing just as I was finishing it up, I felt like I had to take a sneakity peek just to see what she thought. I suggest you go read her review instead, because she really liked it and I kind of hated it. Read on here at your peril.

Girl goes missing; family deals. That's about it for plot, which I guess makes it character-driven. Except that I didn't actually connect with any of the characters. I'm not sure whether there were too many of them, or whether it was too much '...and then she did this and then he said that' and not enough internal, heart-wrenching grief, or whether I just didn't like any of them. They were all so regular. The only thing that singled them out was that their daughter/sister/girlfriend had gone missing, and frankly, that just ain't enough for me.
And I know, right? Teenage girl goes missing; family grieves; reader doesn't care. One of these people is a stone-cold bitch. And if this were based on a true story, I'd be all up ons with my tissues and my garment-rending. Or if this were a Lifetime movie, complete with a shot of the mother clutching her daughter's grad photo to her chest and shedding a single tear while 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' swells in the background. BeLIEVE me, I am a sucker.

But it's not either of these things. It's just a pokey little tale. I guess as sort of a 'How Things Go Down When Your Kid Skips Town' manual, it's interesting to see the whole missings-person process. Maybe if your kid has vanished, you can find some sort of empathy here, although if my child had gone missing, there's no way I'd be reading this book because I'd be dead drunk, or living in the woods. Or both.

The only thing that had a chance of hooking me in was this Dark Secret that all Kim's friends carried around with them, and we all know how I love a Dark Secret. But it's like a chapter was missing, or something, because one minute the Dark Secret was secret, and the next minute everyone knew about it, but there was no Big Reveal, you know? And what's the point if you're not going to be all, Voila!! Let all be unveiled!!!

So...bleurgh. I got this book from the B&N First Look Club, which I guess means I have to participate in the discussion, but I'm so unenthused. Maybe I'll just go on there and make outrageous claims, and get myself blocked.

Four caterpillars.


Rebekah said...

in the second paragraph you forgot the second 'o' on 'too'. It only bothers me because everytime I write and i come across "too" i say in my mind "toooooooooo-o-o"

Rebekah said...

in the second paragraph you forgot the second 'o' on 'too'. It only bothers me because everytime I write and i come across "too" i say in my mind "toooooooooo-o-o"

Icedream said...

LOL, I am glad I read your review. I have been seeing this book popping up on reviews and with my huge huge TBR stack I don't want to waste my time. I want a book that's going to have me bawling my eyes out so hard that it causes my dog to come check on me to see if I am still OK or weak enough for her to take down. I will pass on this one. Thank you :D

bkclubcare said...

Raych, I so love your reviews. Please please keep reading and giving out caterpillars - I don't care how many caterpillars, just keep giving 'em.

LisaMM said...

Raych, thanks for the link! I didn't so much love this book as appreciate the writing. For whatever reason, this author's style really appeals to me- the way he phrases things, etc. I really liked his "Last Night at the Lobster". I had some of the same issues with "Missing" that you did (like the lack of a 'reveal' with the big secret- by the end I just assumed the secret was that she'd been with that other guy-) Anyway, to each his/her own, I suppose. I thoroughly enjoy all of your reviews!

Jill said...

Thanks for your review...I was on the fence about this one, and I'm thinking it will be one I'll pass on.