Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Imaginary Book Club Tuesday, Edition 1

Que Paso, Puppies?

That's Spanish, you know. That's what we talk here in the desert. Except, not the "puppies" part. That's English. As far as I know anyway.

Today is the first blog review for the Imaginary Book Club, Internet Edition.

As you recall, we were reading "Songs for the Missing" by Stewart O'Nan.


This book is the story of the aftermath of the disappearance of a teenage girl. The daughter, Kim, has recently graduated from high school and is looking forward to her impending departure or college. While her relationship with her parents is fairly typical of most teenagers, we are given to understand that they have begun to view her as an adult and thus, are less vigilant about her whereabouts. Like most parents, they're of varying minds regarding her friends and boyfriends and as the book progresses we learn that they are aware that she both drinks and occasionally does drugs.

None of this, of course, has any real baring on her disappearance, except to muddy the waters. Could her boyfriend be involved? Could it be drug related? Could she have just walked off? Her parents are convinced from the beginning that she has been taken. Her mother launches an all out media and local ground campaign and her father spends every possible hour walking with search teams. Both are convinced that they, not the police who believe she has simply left, will be the ones to find her.

Lost in the mix is Kim's younger and awkward sister. She has long lived in the shadow of her more popular sister and the resultant attention to Kim's disappearance leaves her even farther from the center of her own life and causes her to retreat into her room, both literally and figuratively.

Fringing the edges of the story are Kim's best friend and her boyfriend. They were with her just moments before she disappeared and each finds themselves lost as well with out her as the central figure in their life.

The story unfolds over the course of the year and as the time from her disappearance increases, even her parents begin to accept that they will never know exactly what happened to her.

To save from spoiling the story, I'll not reveal the eventual conclusion.


I found that I wanted both more and less from this story. It was as though, in attempting to include a reasonable number of main characters; parents, sister, best friends and boyfriend, the "meat" of the story was neglected. However, conversely, in an attempt to tell the story of a disappearance, the characters were neglected.

I never really "connected" with any of the characters, in fact, I'd venture that no character, including Kim, was given sufficient time for you to begin to root either for or against them. Certainly, you sympathized with the parents, but even after several hundred pages, I found I cared much less about them than I thought I should. They've lost their daughter, they are wracked with grief and fear and uncertainty and yet, they failed to make my heart turn even a little. The author, in my opinion, failed to give the characters sufficient depth and I spent about half of the book thinking "Yeah, yeah, where's the drama? Give me some STORY!"


This is a readable book, but not one that can't be missed. I am not sitting here begging for those six hours of my life back, but neither am I chomping at the bit to run out and buy the authors other novels.

Your turn!

Did you read the book? Opinion?


Suggestions for the next selection?

4 little kittens say Meow:

OHN said...

Didn't read it...I can tell by your imaginary summary, that I probably wouldn't like it.

When you pick the next one, how long do we get to read it before we need to discuss it in an imaginary way?

Hey, maybe we can read one I have already read...yeah, that will be wayyy easier for me.

I bounce back and forth between beach trash books and good books.

The one book I think EVERY mom on the planet needs to read is Burnt Toast by that little cutie pie actress Teri Hatcher.I got it as a gift and read it in one evening..very light and easy and has hit the nail on the head with how we mom's always take the burnt piece of toast (metaphorically and literally).

Also the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch..it is unreal that this guy wrote the book when he knew he was dying.

Is there a certain imaginary genre you are wanting? I could go on for hours :)

Miss Thystle said...

I'm pretty good with any kind of book. Not a huge fan of biographys on the whole, but I'll read them. Especially if they come recommended by someone I know.

Hell, I'll read ANYTHING.

I'm sort of working the online book club off the same schedule as my IRL book club, and for a book under 500pgs we give two weeks. Longer books span two club meetings and we meet every other Tuesday.

sheila said...

Hola Thystle! See, I know Spanish too!

OK, I've not read this either but two observations: It sounds like a weaker version "The Lovely Bones", and I probably wouldn't like it anyway. And I didn't really get what all the fuss was about when "The Lovely Bones" came out -- I thought it was a bit blah.

I want MEAT in the story. Even trashy novels give you some meat. (hehehe) So, while it sounds interesting I'm glad I skipped this one.

I would like to participate on the next one (I don't know how I missed this post) - let me know what the book is!

Dream and Bobby said...

I love this idea...I wanna play too.

Sorry, did not read this book tho.