O’Nan’s novel imagines the people left behind after a teenager’s disappearance. It’s about the ordinariness of unthinkable loss.
With an almost forensic efficiency, O’Nan examines the effect of the mystery on the family, friends and the entire town. What happened to 18-year-old Kim Larsen is less important than how her parents and sister deal with the emotional aftershocks.
Stewart O’Nan, our own bard of Avon, gave us a searing account of what a family goes through when a child disappears. “Songs for the Missing” is a tense tale that pounds home the discomfiting truth that in order to get vital help and attention, such families must quickly learn to “market” their grief and anxiety.
Stewart O’Nan’s Songs for the Missing: Working in the realist tradition of Richard Yates, O’Nan depicts the heartbreaking ramifications of a loved one gone missing, expertly weaving his astute behavioral observations into taut and gripping prose. Edward Champion
Stewart O’Nan’s “Song From the Missing” (Viking), meanwhile, is predicated on the disappearance of a teenage girl, but it steers clear of tabloid lures to delve into the small details; the story rings with quiet emotional truth.
Songs for the Missing, by Stewart O’Nan (Viking). A pretty 18-year old girl drives to her job at a gas station, but never arrives. Her disappearance is at the heart of this novel, but its real concern is with her devastated family.