Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Book Review: "The Fates Will Find Their Way" by Hannah Pittard

This was an odd yet beautifully written book that has worked its way into my mind and really left me thinking. I'm grateful to Rakesh Satyal, one of my Facebook friends (and author of the fabulous Blue Boy), who recommended this book last week, as I don't know if I would have heard about it otherwise.

One Halloween, 16-year-old Nora Lindell disappears. No one really knows what happened to her, although a group of boys who went to school with her have a number of theories, given random rumors and alleged sightings they've heard about. Much like how the girls' deaths in The Virgin Suicides colored the lives of those around them, Nora's disappearance has the same ripple effect on these boys, shaping how they view, and act in, the future. They imagine different paths that Nora might have taken, and through the years, supposed Nora sightings occur in the most unlikely of places. As these boys become men, their obsession with all things Nora (and, to an extent, her younger sister, Sissy) saves them from being mired completely in the minutia of their own adulthood. For some, Nora's disappearance is a tiny catalyst that sets them on a self-destructive course that might not manifest itself for years; for others, it is the push toward saving themselves.

This isn't just a book about a missing girl; this is a book about how the disappearance of a peer that many lusted after alters the course of lives in a small town. Hannah Pittard weaves an absolutely beautiful narrative thread, and while at times it is difficult to tell all of the characters apart, the story is at once compelling and off-putting. I don't ordinarily like books where the narrator imagines what happens to other characters rather than actually tells what happens, but in Pittard's hands, that exercise worked tremendously. And while I'd like to know what really did happen to Nora, somehow making up my own version of her story is as intriguing for me as it was for the boys. Really excellent book.

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