Customer Reviews for

Songs for the Missing: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Family coming to grips with a tragic reality

I enjoyed Mr. O'Nan's writing style. The book flowed for me. Not so much a story of a missing person (as I had expected), but more a story of a family dealing with a tragic event... day by day, month by month, year by year. Since reading this book, every time I have see...
I enjoyed Mr. O'Nan's writing style. The book flowed for me. Not so much a story of a missing person (as I had expected), but more a story of a family dealing with a tragic event... day by day, month by month, year by year. Since reading this book, every time I have seen a missing child story, I feel an immediate connection with what the family is going through.

posted by Anonymous on September 17, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Songs for the Missing

I found the first nine-tenths of the book absolutely gripping, beautifully written and realistic beyond belief. I literally tossed and turned one night while I was in the early chapters after the disappearance because I was so disturbed. I found myself wondering how ...
I found the first nine-tenths of the book absolutely gripping, beautifully written and realistic beyond belief. I literally tossed and turned one night while I was in the early chapters after the disappearance because I was so disturbed. I found myself wondering how a family really does cope with this......I am a huge Without a Trace fan and I started looking at the people that they put on a the break that are missing in a whole new way. This book has made me much more aware of the frustrations, hopelessness and challanges of these situations. HOWEVER, I did not like the ending, I felt the author lost his steam and the ending just seemed to me like he was tired, gotta wrap this up and move on. I am sorry to say that the ending, the abruptness of Kim's being found, just took away my enthusiasm for the whole book.

posted by Anonymous on July 28, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2008

    Eeeehh

    The beginning of the book is good, but O'Nan forgets about Kim and throws us into the life of the family and friends of Kim. Honestly, the book was not for me, but it could be for other people with a different taste. The author writes wonderfuly, but in some parts of the book, like the fishing and about Nina and J.P. reuniting, really did not matter, and did not add anything to the story. I was dissapointed in the end, but also glad that Kim's sister was finaly able to blend into a crowd and become unnoticed after all of that time being the center of attention for the family, town, and meeting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    Songs for the Missing is not the story of Kim Larsen, recent graduate bound for college. Even though the story opens in her viewpoint, she¿ll soon be silenced. And all that will be left behind is her memory. Her parents, sister, boyfriend, friends and community will begin a massive search for her. It¿s their songs Stewart O¿Nan wants us to hear. Her mother and father will struggle and falter for a time before they grow into advocates. Her boyfriend will wrestle with guilt and her friends will worry about saving themselves. Her sister will grow from a fifteen year old in the shadow of her older sister to a young woman forever transformed by the time her sister was missing. This reviewer¿s not read any other Stewart O¿Nan novels, but will surely be looking to read a few more. The thing Mr. O¿Nan does best is tell the story in a matter-of-fact tone that is both tight and unsentimental. This is a rare skill for today¿s novelists one I truly appreciate. The story takes place over a number of years, but the passage of time passes effortlessly for the reader. Because it is so tight, I suspect that some will feel that it lacked something in depth, a fair argument. Songs for the Missing is a character driven, slow plotted story. The narrative is propelled by the voices Kim left behind, not by their actions. Like the story itself, the ending is abrupt and unyielding, a good match for the tone of most of the novel. When my own children were young, I avoided all books on this topic in fear of making the thought real. It seems, when we imagine this horror, that we would never survive, but what Songs for the Missing does best is to show us the everyday lives of a family taking each step in that horror filled world. Recommended for readers who enjoy slower paced, character driven stories or readers who have a special interest in missing persons, or readers who enjoy stories examining family/community relationships.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good For Those Interested In The Subject

    An excerpt of my First Look review, full review originally published and copyrighted on my website - www.randomwonder.com:

    Songs for the Missing is not the story of Kim Larsen, recent graduate bound for college. Even though the story opens in her viewpoint, she'll soon be silenced. And all that will be left behind is her memory. Her parents, sister, boyfriend, friends and community will begin a massive search for her. It's their songs Stewart O'Nan wants us to hear..... This reviewer's not read any other Stewart O'Nan novels, but will surely be looking to read a few more. The thing Mr. O'Nan does best is tell the story in a matter-of-fact tone that is both tight and unsentimental. This is a rare skill for today's novelists; one I truly appreciate.......

    Really a 3.5

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    Very easy reading. The story starts strong enough, but the ending was choppy or rushed. I was also left feeling unfulfilled by the ending. It started with a strong thriller element, but than got confused in the middle. The end was not worthy of the beginning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    Have you ever wondered what you would do if your child, sibling, lover, friend or neighbour went missing? Songs For The Missing is the latest novel from, multiple award-winning writer, Stewart O'Nan. In this novel, you will find out exactly how a small town in Midwestern USA deals with the disappearance of a local high school girl. Kim Larsen begins the narrative while going through her daily life. This sets up a very good look at the relationships she has with family and friends and gives us a glimpse into her hopes and ambitions for the future. But suddenly with no forewarning, Kim simply vanishes. From here on out the book is told from the perspectives of certain family members and friends. From the viewpoint of her parents, we come to understand how they feel while learning and undergoing the various ways to handle a missing child. Particularly interesting is the encounters they have with local police and FBI officials, both parents must reluctantly put their trust into these people to guide them while also trying to have faith that officials are doing as much as they can possibly do. From organizing search parties, printing posters and contacting online organizations, these parents give a detailed plan that would be valuable to any parent going through this themselves. However, as upsetting as Kim's disappearance may be to her parents, her younger sister Lindsay appears to be the emotional center of the book. Although the two sisters are not all that close it becomes clear in Lindsay's narration that her older sister is the hero she strives to emulate. Throughout the novel Lindsay's guilt, love and bitterness towards her sister are revealed. Although Songs For The Missing is about a missing girl, it is obvious that this is merely a plot line devised to showcase Lindsay and how her life must change and evolve while suffering the loss and unknowable circumstances of her older sister. To fulfill the thriller aspect of the novel, O'Nan has thrown in some sketchy characters to build suspicion and a secret between Kim and her friends that is not revealed when she is initially reported missing, but that builds tension between the characters throughout the story. Songs For The Missing is a emotionally charged story that anyone can relate to which creates a wonderful drama, however the mystery portion seems to falter towards the ending. From the climax, the plot needed to have gradually wound down, tying up the loose ends in a neater way to add a more powerful ending. Overall a very good read, that has prompted me to search out previous works by Stewart O'Nan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    This is my first Stewart O'Nan book and I'm not sure if I would read another. The book was easy to follow along and it did make me feel a myriad of feelings but it was uncomfortable to read especially being a mother. I'm sure there are readers who enjoy this type of book but it wasn't for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    At times I felt lost and found myself going back to re-read areas to see if I missed something. I did like the fact that it was from the perspective of the family and friends. So often the deep inner feelings of the ones looking are lost in the telling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    Songs for the Missing left me feeling confused. While Stewart O'Nan does an excellent job of describing the events surrounding Kim's disappearance and the subsequent search, his attempts to help us understand both the main characters and the peripheral ones fell flat. I finished the book with so many unanswered questions about both events and characters that I was a bit disappointed. I was confused about why an author would leave so many loose ends, so many things unresolved. I appreciate that in many ways, real cases of disappearance do leave family and friends with unanswered questions and a lack of resolution. Perhaps that is what Mr. O'Nan was striving for here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    Songs for the Missing was about a teenager that disappeared one day. The story goes through the emotions of her family and friends, trying to find answers to the wheres and whys. I'm not fond of this type of story, it's all to real these days, though I seemed compelled to read this without putting it down till I was finished. The story was well written, making you feel as though you were a part of it, at times wanting to lash out because there were no answers. I did not care for it because it left me wanting to know more. It skimmed on the people and then didn't finish their story. I felt disappointed by the lack of carry-through

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    Mr. O'Nan is an accomplished writer and has an impressive number of books to his credit but I felt this one fell short. Songs for the Missing started out so slowly for me, I could not engage in the characters at all, finding them flat and just too one dimensional. I had hoped the peripheral characters would have been better developed and the main characters had a lot more soul to them. I actually had to put the book away for several weeks and then begin again to see if there were any redeeming qualities. I have to admit, the book did pick up in the middle and I began to feel more of the character's pain. Just when it seems like the author is starting to get in stride all of a sudden it was the ending with too many implausible events. It felt like O'Nan stopped writing and didn't know how to resolve it so he got another author to come in and whip up the 'solution' aka Mimi and her finding Kim. All in all, I would rate this book 3 stars, okay, but I would not recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    I found Songs of the Missing to be a good, but not great read. In dealing with the aftermath of an older child's disappearance from the family's and friends's perspectives was a great storyline. However, I was unable to connect with most of the characters. I felt their reactions were not quite explored fullly. With Fran and Lindsey I felt O'Nan came the closest to engaging me in what they were experiencing and how they were dealing with the situation. I really didn't think the novel showed very well how the characters were changed by what had happened. I would get really involved with the characters at some points and then........'whoooooosh', O'Nan would just drop it. Since the storyline was intended to be about the missing girl's inner circle's reactions, I supposed it wasn't necessary to detail what had happened to her, but I felt a definite sense of 'let down' at the end when I realized we would never know.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    SONGS FOR THE MISSING had the potential to be a great book. A beloved daughter goes missing, and the aftershocks of her departure paralyze, shock and forever change her family and her friends. In fact, Kim Larsen's disappearance changes 'everything'. Stewart O'Nan's style of writing is minimalistic, stark and open ended. His imagery can be riveting and incisive. The question that I had at the end of the novel, however, was that 'sadly' more than Kim Larsen was missing. The ending seems rushed, there are huge gaps in character development, there are too many unresolved plot details and in the final analysis there were a lot of things that just did not add up. From my viewpoint, the novel seems more like an unfinished melody which lingers on but then goes nowhere. The basic premise of the book is powerful and gripping. And it is a shame that by the end of the novel, the reader may not feel satisfied. O'Nan wanted to create an emotional climate which would show and feel how families cope or not with this kind of disappearance. In part, he succeeded...he does leave you asking questions which you will never answer from the writing itself. However, the key problem is that O'Nan leaves you asking questions that should have been addressed and were not. For me, the novel did not come together and left me dissatisfied and looking for more. For those readers who like open ended novels which leave much to their imagination, then this novel would have the potential to be an outstanding choice. It is all a matter of personal preference.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    Part of this story was utter confusion and I understood it to a point. When parents lose a child they are confused. No one knows where the child is and it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. Mr. O'Nan captured that mood perfectly. But I wanted to know why this happened. What was the reason? I felt like I was getting half a story and it left me dissatisfied.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    I liked this book by Stewart O'Nan. 'Songs for the Missing' definitely could never be my favorite book. My favorite book always insists on I knowing that the book will end with all of my questions answered and if its shocked full of emotion as this book is, I will have very wet eyes that have been immersed by tears because the ending being so inclusive, I know all about it and probably will never forget it. Stewart is a very talented writer as he can build absolute characters that can speak wonderously in a good story. Other people might enjoy this book alot better than I did, if they like to second guess what really happened and if they want to depend on theirselves rather than the author for the display of emotional feelings you need to experience to read this type of novel. I will never regret reading this novel. It was informing, great desccriptive writing so that I could invision the characters in their roles most of the time. But the deep, emotional fulfillment was left out for me , that is. Oh! almost forgot! I give it a Three.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    The book begins as a thoroughly engrossing story of a young woman who mysteriously disappears on a summer afternoon. This book does a great job of exploring the feelings and reactions of a family and an entire community as they cope with such an occurence. What unfolds is completely unexpected, and leaves everyone at a loss, perhaps even the reader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    All in all, not a great book. As other previous reviews stated, there were too many things alluded to, but not explained. Why did Fran so intensely dislike J.P.? The Wooze character was mentioned, but we did not know much about him. Certain chapters would leave you hanging, with no clear cut answers. I kept going back & rereading, thinking I overlooked something. The book had great potential, but left me very disappointed at the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    I kept thinking, How would I handle the same situation? Very thought provoking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    This is a book about the disappearance of an 18-year-old girl and the subsequent impact of this disappearance on her family, friends and community. The story is told in a very objective, matter-of-fact way. There is little in the way of sentimentality, of emotion shown by the characters to elicit sympathy from the reader, or of judgment on the part of anyone about the final outcome. It's just, 'Here's what happened this is the way it was.' I confess that I did not really enjoy reading Songs for the Missing, and yet I was not left with a feeling of indifference at the end. I felt rather that I had peeked into the lives of suffering people, seen 'how it was,' and it was awful. Mr. O'Nan has taken us into a place where none of us would ever want to go and has shown us that some are forced there and somehow manage to survive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    When reading the description of the book, I was very unsure of how I would feel about it. I read for entertainment mainly and mostly read upbeat stories. As I read the book I was interested, but not completely drawn in. The changing point of view distracted me at first. As I continued reading I became more invested in the characters and fell into reading from their different voices. But the end of the book seemed very rushed and left many questions unanswered for me. All in all this was a decent book but I probably would not read it again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2008

    Songs for the Missing

    I think this is a 3 star book. Although there were some compelling moments, I felt the book lacked suspense. I also thought that the family dynamics were odd - the father and younger daughter being more sympathetic. I could surmise that the mother handled grief by getting over-involved in running things and losing sight of her family's grief. She did not seem to understand at all that her young daughter needed her emotionally and this remained the case until the end. A big question mark for me was the relationship of Kim's friends. Something was eluding me and I am not sure what it was but I thought there needed to be more explanation of what the friends actually withheld. Perhaps it is just me and how I read the book, but I found it rather disappointing.

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