Book Quote:

“We imagined her with us, more beautiful than our wives, more aloof, more tender, more kind. We imagined her future and our own. We closed our eyes and fell asleep to Nora Lindell, alive and happy. In the morning, we advanced to adulthood, relieved at last of childhood fantasies.”

Book Review:

Review by Jill I. Shtulman  (JAN 26, 2011)

Lately, there have been a number of books about missing girls and what they signify for those left behind. The forthcoming The Sweet Relief of Missing Children by Sara Braunstein and last summer’s paperback release of Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan spring instantly to mind.

In Hannah Pittard’s absorbing The Fates Will Find Their Way, this territory is mined again, and quite convincingly. Sixteen-year-old Nora vanishes one day and no one knows quite what happened. What’s left is a series of rumors, imaginings, suspicions, and what-ifs from teenage boys whose lives she touched.

Ms. Pittard makes a risky choice in using the first person plural for narration – the “we” tense. It’s a hard tense to pull off, but she does it quite well. For instance, as the boys grow to men, she writes, “We owned homes, had wives. Some of us had more than one child by then. In many ways, we were kings. Everything was ahead of us…”

But is it? As the fates dictate that the boys settle down into preordained future roles, something is lost in each of them. At one point, the narrator looks back to a time when the future was more limitless: “Our only limitation was our imagination, and that school year – and every school year after – our imagination seemed to grow, to outdo, what we’d ever believed possible. We outran our wildest fantasies. That is, until Nora Lindell went missing…”

Nora is the fixed mark in time of all that might have been. Her life remains limitless, at least in the imaginings of her now-adult classmates; she took off to Arizona, she became pregnant, she married a much-older man, and so on. Their lives, however, are constrained by the realities of life, the wives and the babies and jobs and the homes as they sleepwalk forward. Ms. Pittard writes, “Certain outcomes are unavoidable, invariable, absolutely unaffectable, and yet completely unpredictable. Certain outcomes are that way. But maybe not Nora’s. Maybe she was the only one who escaped…”

This haunting and minimalistic book has but one flaw in my opinion: Nora is consistently a symbol and never acquires that real-life mystique and fascination that would cause these teenage boys to remain starry-eyed and reverent way into adulthood. The conceit overpowers the reality of the story.

That aside, there is some mighty fine writing from a debut author and some deep psychological insights that keeps the reader turning pages. The Fates Will Find Their Way is a lovely little gem.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 14 readers
PUBLISHER: Ecco (January 25, 2011)
REVIEWER: Jill I. Shtulman
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Hannah Pittard
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Other missing girl stories:

Fragile by Lisa Unger

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant

The False Friend by Myla Goldberg

Eve Green by Susan Fletcher

And one of the best missing child stories:

The Disapparation of James by Anne


January 26, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Amanda Davis, Contemporary, Unique Narrative, y Award Winning Author

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