Thereâ€™s one thing you can count on with author Megan Abbott, you can never predict which direction her novels will take you. Abbottâ€™s first novel, DIE A LITTLE is set in 50s Hollywood and is an exploration of the strange relationship between two women. Then came THE SONG IS YOU, based on the unsolved disappearance of actress Jean Spangler. This novel was followed by QUEENPIN, the story of a female book keeper who works for a glamorous, hard-as-nails mob-connected woman. Abbottâ€™s next novel, BURY ME DEEP, set in the 30s, is a fictionalized account of a real-life murder. And that brings me to THE END OF EVERYTHING, a deeply engrossing book in which Abbott explores the relationship between two 13-year-old girls. I donâ€™t care for a child narrator, but there are hints that this tale is told by Lizzie in adulthood years later.
THE COFFINS OF LITTLE HOPE by Timothy Schaffert is a small gem. Its multi-plotted story takes place in a small Nebraska town with characters who make this novel special. The town is peopled by a lot of old folks. Essie, the protagonist, is 83 and the novel is told in first person from her point of view. â€śWe were all of us quite old, we death merchants â€“ the townâ€™s undertaker (seventy-eight), his organist (sixty-seven)â€¦the florist (her freezer overgrown with lilies, eighty-one). The cemeteryâ€™s caretaker, who procured for the goth high schoolers who partied among the tombstones, was the enfant terrible among us (at an immature fifty-six.â€ť
May 1, 2011
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: Life's Moments, Missing Children, Nebraska, Small Town, Timothy Schaffert, Unbridled Books Â· Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Reading Guide, US Midwest
In this discomforting debut book, every character â€“ and there are many â€“ is guilty of the crime of passivity. It starts with the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl, Leonora â€“ a good girl, who does everything right, a cautious and obedient young lady who possesses â€ścalm confidence, concern for the lower classes, a dimple in her right cheek.â€ť
In Hannah Pittardâ€™s absorbing THE FATES WILL FIND THEIR WAY, missing children territory is mined again, and quite convincingly. Sixteen-year-old Nora vanishes one day and no one knows quite what happened. Whatâ€™s left is a series of rumors, imaginings, suspicions, and what-ifs from teenage boys whose lives she touched.
FRAGILE is set in a small town 100 miles from New York City, called â€śThe Hollows.â€ť The dynamics between family clusters, over the generations within the sometimes stifling small-town boundaries, form the emotional backbone of this well-crafted thriller.
The central group is the Cooper family. With Jones (the father) being the chief detective in the Hollows police force and Maggie (the mother) being a psychologist, they are strategically placed to know whatâ€™s going on in town when something out of the ordinary happens. Their son Ricky is a high school student, and the disappearance of his girlfriend Charlene is the signal for the mystery to begin in earnest.
Even in these dramatic opening lines, British author Grantâ€™s first novel, THE VANISHING OF KATHARINA LINDEN, has a beguiling, self-absorbed, coming-of-age tone well suited to its appealing 10-year-old narrator, Pia Kolvenbach. Pia is actually recalling these events from young adulthood, seven years later; a distance that allows a certain wry humor in her approach to her younger self, while retaining the immediacy of her traumatic experiences.
Daughter of an English mother and German father, Pia has enjoyed an uneventful childhood in the tiny, ancient, comfortably hidebound town of Bad Munstereifel. This comes to an abrupt end when her grandmother accidentally sets herself on fire lighting the last Advent candle at the family celebration the Sunday before Christmas.