Pittard leads the reader into a slew of possibilities spinning out from a 16-year-old girl's disappearance, in her intriguing, beguiling debut. After Nora Lindell goes missing on Halloween, stories about her disappearance multiply: she got into a car with an unknown man, she was seen at the airport, she simply walked away, she was abducted. Pittard dips into the points-of-view of various classmates to explore these possibilities and more. Perhaps Nora was murdered. One theory sends her to Arizona, where she raises twin daughters with a lover named Mundo, and another path leads her to a near-death experience in a cafe bombing in India. The story also outlines effects of the disappearance on Nora's family and classmates, who, even as they graduate, marry, and have children, never quite let go of Nora—possibly to avoid their own lives. Though the truth about Nora remains tantalizingly elusive—the reader is never quite sure what happened—the many possibilities are so captivating, and Pittard's prose so eloquent, that there's a far richer experience to be had in the chain of maybes and what-ifs than in nailing down the truth. (Feb.)
Nora Lindell, a 16-year-old private schoolgirl in a suburban town, disappears one Halloween night. The boys in the town collectively narrate this haunted tale of Nora's imagined fate and their own lives, from their teens until they are adults with families. Nora lives on in their imagination—there are sightings and multiple theories about where she ended up, the boys fantasize about and date her younger sister, and they continue to think of her when they are with their own wives and children. Much of what they describe is mundane, yet Nora is always there in the background. The tension builds throughout the book, keeping the reader eager to find out what happened to Nora and to the boys and, later, to the men who were so profoundly affected by her disappearance. VERDICT This debut from McSweeney's award winner Pittard is smart, eerie, and suspenseful and will appeal to fans of novels combining those elements.—Sarah Conrad Weisman, Corning Community Coll., NY
The sudden disappearance of a teenage girl has far-reaching implications for the psyches of the boys from her suburban town.
That 16-year-old Nora Lindell goes missing on Halloween is beyond dispute, but what happens to her afterward is anyone's guess, and in fact becomes something of an obsession for her male schoolmates. Did she, clad in her school uniform, get into a strange man's car to face a grisly fate? Or maybe she was pregnant with twins and ran away to Arizona, where she married a sweet-natured Mexican cook decades her senior. Or, least plausible of all, did she end up in India, take a female lover and barely survive the 2006 Mumbai hotel bombings? Circumstantial evidence exists for all these scenarios, but what emerges from Pittard's debut novel, told in the collective first person plural, is how the boys as a group experience the loss of Nora. For almost 30 years, she becomes a symbol of possibility, while their lives become increasingly smaller and limited. There are dramas, of course. Trey Stephens, the only boy who claimed to have slept with Nora, goes to prison in his 30s for having sex with the 13-year-old daughter of a friend. Another one's wife leaves him after a series of miscarriages, while a third guy has an extramarital affair that is exposed at a funeral. And the most awkward of the bunch, sensitive Danny Hatchet, carries a longtime torch for Nora's younger sister Sissy, who is subject to almost as many rumors as Nora. Gracefully written by the winner of the 2008 Amanda Davis Highwire Fiction Award, this elegiac portrait of an upscale community offers an interesting take on modern manhood. And while the hive mentality comes across as a bit claustrophobic, that just might be the whole point.
A melancholy coming-of-age debut novel in the spirit ofThe Virgin Suicides.
The Fates Will Find Their Way is chilling and touching. Pittard can be harrowingly wise about the melancholy process of growing up, of moving from the horny days of high school to the burden of protecting our own children. We realize what's been lost, what's been done to us and what we've done to each other before we're mature enough to calculate the true cost. In Pittard's absorbing treatment, the tragedy of Nora's disappearance is eventually subsumed into the tragedies we all endure.
The Washington Post
Though on the surface this seems to be a novel about a girl's disappearance, at its core it's about how children become adults. "We cannot help but shudder at the things adults are capable of," Pittard writes, as the now-grown narrators watch their own daughters. That shift, from what teen�agers can do to one another to what adults can do to children, is crucial. But what this novel is really examining is the moment when such a reckoning occurs.
The New York Times
the Oprah Magazine O
“A stunning novel about making up stories as we go along…[a] mesmerizing debut…with every carefully chosen word—and in this short, intense novel, each one counts—Pittard brilliantly draws us into the maturing consciousness of a group of neighborhood boys.”
"A dreamlike cross between THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and THE LOVELY BONES."
"It’s a tour de force for a young woman to follow the attitudes and changes and expectations of these several men as they grow older. ... I would recommend it to anyone."
"THE FATES WILL FIND THEIR WAY is...about the way our imaginations can carry us from a dispiriting selfishness to a nascent empathy, and the way we continue to inflictor even just observepain until that empathy arrives."
"Pittard gives the secret wink to the reader, because a story is only a story, but at the same time more than a story, and that’s why we love to invent and why we love to listen and to be taken in. At our peril."
"THE FATES WILL FIND THEIR WAY is a bold, wise, magical, and authentic novel about youthful infatuation and its legacy. Hannah Pittard’s beautifully confident prose is sure to make readers look back on their own teenage years with fresh wonder."
"THE FATES WILL FIND THEIR WAY is simply tremendousa beautiful, roving, restless and relentless exploration of a crime. It would be almost too sad to bear the implications of this story if it weren’t for the warmth, hope, and kindness of its haunting prose."
"A meditation on the mysteries of life and fate."
"THE FATES WILL FIND THEIR WAY is about a disappearance, but it’s also about the difficulty of growing up, of moving into adulthood and letting go. It’s a brilliant and beautifully written work."
"The architecture of the narrative is cemented in the solipsism of the boys/men…As readers work their way through the novel, they might try guessing what could have happened to Nora, but the ending is a surprise."
"This novel uncovers creepy male sexuality in every form and facet by recounting the way a local girl’s disappearance traumatized a group of suburban men and revealing their morbid fantasies about her ultimate fate…THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, but without the virgins."
"A wistful novel about how little we know of one another, but how eager we are to tape together a collage of rumors, assumptions and fantasies to answer questions we’re too young, too cowardly or too polite to ask…. Chilling and touching…harrowingly wise about the melancholy process of growing up."
Sacramento Book Review
"Pittard does an amazing job with setting up middle American suburbia in the latter half of the 20th century.... The story doesn’t shy away from heavy subjects... but it doesn’t use them as emotional gimmicks either.... A very solid debut, worth picking up."
The Onion AV Club
"A bracing debut… Ripe with a sense of danger to the last page, th stories woven among the boys who remembered Nora Lindell create a captivating tale of lives unlived."
"An exceptional first novel…of "what ifs" [and] a beautifully crafted portrait of men slipping almost imperceptibly from childhood to middle-age.... It’s hard to imagine a better debut this year."
"THE FATES WILL FIND THEIR WAY is concerned with searching questions rather than the relief of resolution. What might have been a frustrating approach in a lesser novel proves compelling in this one."
New York Times Book Review
"What emerges from the narration instead of facts are exquisite details that translate instantly into memory."
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[Pittard] spurs rumination on the moments in which we witness the tragedies of others and somehow manage to wrap events around ourselves."
Minneapolis Star Tribune
"An eerie, arresting novel…a bold, imaginative, deeply psychological debut novel, a mystery in the finest sense of the word."
Los Angeles Times
"An emotionally taut and elegantly written novel."
Time Out Chicago
"[The] narrator is a collective "we"... gathering the received anti-wisdom of a group of neighborhood boys in a suburban town. But the way the story plays out, covering conjecture with the sheen of fact and writing myth into stone, Pittard ropes the reader in as well."
“A dreamlike cross between THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and THE LOVELY BONES.”
"A dark story of adolescence gone awry…In playing out each of the theories about [character] Nora’s disappearance, Pittard perfectly illustrates the hysteria surrounding any such disaster, and the ways in which very detail can be twisted and elevated to create endings to a story that fundamentally has none."
"Some of you will be familiar with Ms. Pittard’s particular magic.... This is a stunning first novel told in the first person plural with devastating results."
"Engaging and vigorously told…I heard all sorts of echoes from other books, from Alice Sebold’s THE LOVELY BONES and some of Joyce Carol Oates’ stories and novels…Pittard’s excellent first novel satisfies this demand in spades."
The Onion A.V. Club
“A bracing debut… Ripe with a sense of danger to the last page, th stories woven among the boys who remembered Nora Lindell create a captivating tale of lives unlived.”