THE END OF EVERYTHING by Megan Abbott

There’s one thing you can count on with author Megan Abbott, you can never predict which direction her novels will take you. Abbott’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. Abbott’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 don’t care for a child narrator, but there are hints that this tale is told by Lizzie in adulthood years later.

July 7, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Mystery/Suspense, US Midwest, y Award Winning Author

THE COFFINS OF LITTLE HOPE by Timothy Schaffert

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. “We were all of us quite old, we death merchants – the town’s undertaker (seventy-eight), his organist (sixty-seven)…the florist (her freezer overgrown with lilies, eighty-one). The cemetery’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.”

May 1, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Reading Guide, US Midwest

THE SWEET RELIEF OF MISSING CHILDREN by Sarah Braunstein

In this discomforting debut book, every character – and there are many – is guilty of the crime of passivity. It starts with the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl, Leonora – a good girl, who does everything right, a cautious and obedient young lady who possesses “calm confidence, concern for the lower classes, a dimple in her right cheek.”

February 28, 2011 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Contemporary, Debut Novel, Short Stories, y Award Winning Author

THE FATES WILL FIND THEIR WAY by Hannah Pittard

In Hannah Pittard’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. What’s left is a series of rumors, imaginings, suspicions, and what-ifs from teenage boys whose lives she touched.

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

FRAGILE by Lisa Unger

FRAGILE is set in a small town 100 miles from New York City, called “The Hollows.” 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 what’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.

January 8, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Family Matters, Mystery/Suspense, NE & New York, Reading Guide, Theme driven

THE VANISHING OF KATHARINA LINDEN by Helen Grant

Even in these dramatic opening lines, British author Grant’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.

October 10, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Coming-of-Age, Debut Novel, Germany, Mystery/Suspense, Speculative (Beyond Reality)