Songs for the Missing
Stewart O'Nan, Author . Viking $23.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-670-02
O'Nan proves that uncertainty can be the worst punishment of all in this unflinching look at an unraveling family. In the small town of Kingsville, Ohio, 18-year-old Kim Larsen—popular and bound for college in the fall—disappears on her way to work one afternoon. Not until the next morning do her parents, Ed and Fran, and 15-year-old sister, Lindsay, realize Kim is missing. The lead detective on the case tells the Larsens that since Kim is an adult, she could, if the police find her, ask that the police not disclose her location to her parents. When Kim's car later turns up in nearby Sandusky, Ed, desperate to help, joins the official search. Meanwhile, Fran stays home putting all her energy into community fund-raisers, and Lindsay struggles to maintain a normal life. Through shifting points of view, chiefly those of the shell-shocked parents and the moody Lindsay, O'Nan raises the suspense while conveying the sheer torture of what it's like not to know what has happened to a loved one. When—if ever—do you stop looking?
Reviewed on: 09/22/2008