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Saxton Reads! & Reviews

We invite the public to post reviews to our catalog by logging into our online catalog. Reviews will then be posted to this blog. Comments can be added to existing posts or may be added as separate reviews on our catalog
NOVEMBER 14, 2009
Songs for the Missing ~ Stewart O'Nan

*****reviewed by CarolK
Songs for the Missing

Connecticut is fortunate to have many fine authors, Stewart O'Nan, being one of them. This past summer I read three books about missing children. One of these and the best by far was O'Nan's Songs for the Missing. There are only so many plots and it always amazes me how differently each author will handle similar stories. It sounds like a simple plot. Eighteen year old Kim Larsen disappears from her Lake Erie town. Read this opening and see if you are not intrigued to continue...

   "Description of the Person, when Last Seen

July, 2005. It was the summer of the 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."

It should have been a summer of swimming at the lake, after work late night dates, a last glorious summer respite before college life begins. All this changes in an instant. Here one moment, gone the next. O'Nan's pen explores this tragic event so beautifully that at times you almost forget the underlying story of love, and loss. He gives us a detailed view of what it means to lose a loved one and how this missing affects each member of Kim's family; how each relates to the other, the ebb and tide of hope, and how each member tries to live without being disloyal to Kim. It's about the regrets, the sadness, the grief, what was and was not said or done.

This is not a fast read and probably would not appeal to thriller readers. It takes a bit of commitment on the reader's part but is definitely worth the effort. The best of O'Nan to date.

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bas bleu said, on Nov. 15 at 1:31PM
I read Songs for the Missing a while back and must admit that I had a difficult time with it because I didn't find any of the characters particularly likable. I wanted to care about them, especially in light of the subject matter, but it just didn't happen. I don't know if that was the author's failing or my own.


CarolK said, on Nov. 15 at 4:33PM
Thank you for your candid take on this bas bleu. If all the world liked the same thing, what a dull place it would be. You and I have agreed on some, disagreed on others and continue to laugh, discuss, and read. Oh, remember, Bridges of Madison County! I would never think it was your failing that this didn't work for you. You read with such a keen eye and hearing as to voice. It IS a very slow moving story. I can understand how you might not have cared about the characters. Something in them touched me. Let's see if anyone else chimes in with their thoughts on this one. In the meantime, post a few of your own recent best reads. I'm always interested in hearing from you.


bas bleu said, on Nov. 16 at 5:34PM
Consider it done, CarolK! I just wrote a review of The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. I read it a couple of weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since. I like books that stick around with me for a while, don't you? I have another book in mind to review as soon as I have some free might be a bit surprised by this next one!


CarolK said, on Nov. 17 at 7:21AM
Posted the review of The Road by McCarthy above on 11/17/09. See my comments about The Road on that post. As for the next book you will review, bas bleu, all I can say is you have piqued my curiosity.


gatogordo said, on Jan. 11 at 4:50PM
I found the characters unbelievable. For example, when the mother is coordinating the search for Kim less than 24 hours after her disappearance, and is behaving like she's hosting a dinner party. It seems inauthentic; perhaps if it happened later on it wouldn't have seemed so incongruent. I don't think most mothers would behave that way at that time. While I don't usually have a hard time embracing novels that are more slowly paced, this author seems to overwhelm you with minutiae that don't add anything essential to the plot.


CarolK said, on Jan. 12 at 10:18AM
I'm going to have to go back and read that part again, the part you mention about Kim's mom coordinating the search. For me, she was the least likable character in the book. Thanks for your viewpoint. Can you remember another book dealing with missing children that seems more believable to you? BTW, we need good reviewers, as yourself, to share their thoughts on the books they read. Please post a review to our catalog or send me your review at and I'll post it!

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