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The Sweet Relief of Missing Children: A Novel
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The Sweet Relief of Missing Children: A Novel

2.95 of 5 stars 2.95  ·  rating details  ·  621 ratings  ·  173 reviews
In New York City, a girl called Lenora vanishes without a trace. Years earlier and miles upstate, Goldie, a wild, negligent mother, searches for a man to help raise her precocious son, Paul, who later discovers that the only way to save his soul is to run away. The Sweet Relief of Missing Children is a suspenseful novel about the power of running and the desire for reinven ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published February 28th 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published December 27th 2010)
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Leigh Hecking
I received this book as part of Good Reads "First Reads" contest. The title and cover were intriguing and I was immediately drawn into the writing. I will say this for Sarah Braunstein - she is a great writer. There were some really clever, fresh metaphors in the book, as well as wonderful imagery. No doubt, the author's raw talent was harnessed by her professors at the coveted University of Iowa's writing program. But what is great language without content? Yes, she is a good writer, but whethe ...more
Jill
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.”

Yet this is not a book about Leonora, who inhabits a small fraction of the 360+ pages. Rather, it’s about all kinds of “missing” children – children who have
...more
Amy
Okay so this book illustrates what I hate about the random new arrival shelf. I actually got about 1/3 of the way through this and I only picked it up yesterday. But, like so many contemporary books, the idea is fascinating, the writing hooks the reader, and in this book the style and plot are intriguing. However, I just can't finish this because after about 1/3 of it I had as much vulgarity as I could handle. Is this author representing a majority of the population out there? She has many chara ...more
Lisa
The Sweet Relief of Missing Children begins with the story of Leonora. She is pretty and tidy and protected. She has her vaccinations, she knows not to talk to strangers, she eats her vegetables and she never takes the shortcut through the alley. She is precious to her parents and she understands these precautions because she understands that she cannot be both precious and free. In the end, none of it matters.

Sarah Braunstein’s novel begins and ends with Leonora, but woven throughout the book a
...more
Jennifer
This is another one of those books that is actually a bunch of interconnected short stories. On the positive side, the writing here is quite good, and the way the author fits the pieces together is masterful.

I actually thought this was going to be a mystery about a missing child. And there is indeed a missing child, but this is more a conceptual book about being "lost." There are many (too many) characters, and they each have their own way of being or feeling missing. This was interesting, but
...more
Sara Cat
I automatically give one star as a base to books I had to put down. This is one of those annoying books with every chapter introducing a new character, with a lot of emotional carrying-on, and no plot, but hints that all is interconnected somehow. It might just be me, but I am quickly annoyed at those books that revolve around too much inner life, unless they are really spectacular. After about the sixth character chapter, with no connection to anything, I quit. The writing is nice, hopefully Br ...more
Aurora
I'm between "liked" and "really liked" on this one, mainly because it's just so bleak and depressing, and I'm dealing with a sad situation in real life right now...so it was a little bit of work to finish the book, as nothing ever got better for any of the characters. BUT: Braunstein's writing is superb - she chooses just the right details and nuances, fresh ways of looking at familiar life scenarios, and that's what I kept coming back for. Here's an excerpt:

"It was a damp Tuesday in May. They w
...more
Natasha
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads - my first hardcover win, and I love everything about the cover.... except the title. I find the title of the book a bit off-putting, although I suppose it makes a person think and wonder as to its exact meaning, which may interest someone enough to pick it up and start reading.

There are many characters in the book, and for a while it is very disjointed. Many of the characters' stories start to overlap, and author Sarah Braunstein does
...more
Kari Koehler
This is a book that I won from the giveaways page here on GR. I am excited to begin this book this morning... will let you know what I think!

What I think - not very far into the book - the intro was compelling and made me want to read more - now I am confused because it flips back and forth and I hate the character Goldie, so much so that I am contemplating putting the book down!

UPDATE *3/31/2011* Still trying to get through this book. I almost have to force myself to read it. The characters ar
...more
Enjee
I received this book in the Goodreads First Reads program.
This is a mystery that spans several decades, following characters that figure in the final chapter.
The prose is beautiful.
Some of the characters are slightly interesting in that they are different from myself and I always enjoy reading alternate experiences other than my own; but ultimately they are unsympathetic. Doesn't anyone practice birth control? The plot is uninspiring. There is no solution to the mystery, hence the reduced scor
...more
Blake Fraina
With The Sweet Relief of Missing Children Sarah Braunstein concocts a deeply odd yet profoundly affecting novel that is tenuously centered around Leonora, a privileged young girl who goes missing in Manhattan. I use the term "tenuously centered" because the stories of the book’s other characters swirl and eddy loosely around Leonora’s fate; almost none of them actually know her and some of them don’t even know about her.

The characters are all so specific and finely drawn that it was a pleasure
...more
Coleen
1/29/11 - This one is hard to review. I wanted to like it. The cover is intriguing. The book description is intriguing. The writing itself -- the structure & beauty of the words -- is quite good. But the overall structure & attempt to understand this book just put me off. The writing style reminded me a bit of Nicole Krauss -- beautiful, almost poetic writing, with a lot of unwritten & underlying meaning behind the words -- but it lacked so much as well. I had trouble keeping track o ...more
Nancy
This book was written in a cold detached style, which rendered the multitude of characters rather weak and listless. I often like the style of storytelling in which several different story lines are presented independently and eventually integrated together in cathartic unity. The author aimed for this style, but several of her characters were superfluous and inessential to the narrative. Fairly early on, I became overwhelmed by the ever increasing quantity of listless characters, all of whom we ...more
Angie McCrae
An intriguing story. In some regards it was well written, but in others it was difficult to follow. It did not seem to have a main character, but instead many secondary characters who lived in both the past and the present. The book is written in short vignettes that jump back and forth between each character and make the story feel disjointed. In fact, so disjointed that it was not until I was almost finished with the book that I realized the characters were in different time periods and not al ...more
Pat
Sarah Braunstein accrued a noteworthy honor in the literary world when she was selected by National Book Award finalists as one of the five best fiction writers under the age of 35. The Sweet Relief of Missing Children is her debut novel.

I thought this would be compelling book given her credentials; however, it was oddly confusing. There are numerous characters and time lines that I found difficult to keep straight. A flow chart would have been helpful in sorting out the backgrounds of the paren
...more
Audrey
This writer can create some beautiful word pictures, she can even compose sentences that have the power to break the reader's heart.

But, I have to give this book a low rating because it was so disjointed and had plot lines that just meandered off somewhere, never to be found again the big mystery in the book is never fully solved which always irritates me.

There were so many characters and their story would just be getting interesting and it would abruptly end and another chapter with yet other c
...more
T. Coughlin
I just finished this novel and what I liked most about it was the writing. I thought the author took care with her sentences and prose weaving her stories together. I can't say that sometimes the novel wasn't a bit confusing, as I tried to keep all the missing children straight in my head, but I will say, word for word, sentence for sentence this was a beautiful novel.

Goldie was my favorite character, very tragic, as most of the characters are in this novel. I recommend this novel to someone wh
...more
Annie
I'm still deciding if I really like the book or annoyed by it. What I like about it is the raw look at being passive and not doing anything. We are all told that children can be anyone and everyone. But, in real life, usually nothing happens. Children grow up. We all become adults with pedestrian lives. Many don't become astronauts, doctors, or Indian chiefs. We all go through our lives passively.

However, I'm annoyed by the transition between characters and time. I devoted too much of my intelle
...more
Brooke
I gave this book 4 stars, mainly because I appreciated the way the author exposed simple human truths throughout the story. It is as if the author rawly exposed us for who we really are. It was interesting to find out how all of the characters were going to be connected - you really have no idea where the story is going as you read it. Characters are thrown at you, and you find out how they are joined chapters later. That being said, it was also sometimes difficult to keep track of all the chara ...more
Katie
The sweet relief of missing children gets a 5 for the most lyrically bleak lines I've read in 2011. Sarah Braunstein is gifted with writing the kind of sentences for which I fall completely head over heels. As a minus, there are too many characters for the reader to bounce between and I often spent the beginning of each chapter attempting to place myself back into each character's life and trying to remember where I had left off before. The theme that tied them altogether--a loss of childhood an ...more
Jacqueline
This is the kind of book that makes me think. I relate to it. I see so much of reality in the quirky characters and difficult situations. It isn't a story so much as a lot of bits and pieces put together, well, to show you a lot of bits and pieces I suppose, but to show you a lot of bits and pieces in a way that makes you know that bits and pieces are important, are what makes up everything else.

This is the kind of book that I don't completely enjoy reading, but when I am done reading it, I lie
...more
Piperitapitta
Tutto ruota intorno a Leonora, dodici anni, ��una bella bambina tirata su secondo un credo di immacolata autodifesa��, che in una freddissima giornata d'inverno, anzich�� tornare da scuola con il fratellino, scompare nel nulla.
�� un romanzo che si divora, grazie a quel sottile filo che si intuisce legare il tutto ma del quale non si riesce ad afferrare il bandolo se non a poche pagine dalla fine, grazie alla tela di storie che Sarah Braunstein tesse pazientemente pagina dopo pagina.
Le vicende ch
...more
Margaret O'keefe
Extraordinary writing, and I did not want it to end. Dark subject, but such a brilliant development of characters and setting. Braunstein has a rare gift of seeing the world from a unique lens, yet being able to articulate that in accessible and interesting ways. I am recommending this book to everyone that I know.
Justin Time
Crackling language. Weird and wonderful characters. Braunstein's narrative structure is certainly complex--there are maybe a dozen characters who appear and reappear. Super ambitious and super successful. Amazing feat of empathy. Gripping stuff. Can't wait to read more from her.
Darin
The title and description drew me towards this debut novel but promise something other than that which is delivered by the author. Expecting a thriller, instead Ms. Braunstein offers a psychological rumination on what it means to be missed or missing in America. There is the wrap-around story of the twelve year old Leonora as we witness her final moments before her disappearance. This is interspersed throughout a multi-generational saga of young Americans searching...for escape, for peace, for h ...more
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
What did I just read? I've given up. Almost a third into the book and my brain was screaming for better words.
Jamie
Well-written, but depressing and un-interesting.
Glenda
I won a copy of this book on Goodreads First Reads.

This story starts with the disappearance of 12-year-old Leonora – a good girl, who does everything right, a cautious and obedient young lady who has been warned about stranger danger. But it doesn't matter, she disappears anyway.
But this is not a book about Leonora, whose story is only one small part of the novel. Rather, it's about all kinds of "missing" children-–children who have grown up, those who have gone missing emotionally or physically
...more
CK
I'm having a hard time getting through this one. I want to believe there will be some redeeming quality to the work if I just stick with it. I like the concept of daring us to look at the realities of life. Braunstein writes in such a way that you feel the emotion and will drained out of you, putting you in the shoes of her characters who cling to the barest threads of hope. It's an effective technique, BUT it's tiring. I haven't the energy left to deal with the constant barrage of new character ...more
Judith
Five stories going back and forth through time.....ending, or focusing, on the disappearance of 12-year old Leonora Coulter...deemed a "good" girl by her family and friends...a girl who got caught in a 'twist of fate"

Five sets of characters who interact with each other in unexpected ways throughout the book.

Awkward, damaged people going through life with enough "baggage" to down an airplane.

Small town life...the flip side of Bucolic

The awkward style of this book bothered, and distracted, me...un
...more
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Sarah Braunstein is a recipient of the Rona Jaffe Writers' Award. She received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and an MSW from Smith College School for Social Work.

Based in Portland, Maine, she is at work on a second novel and a book of nonfiction about suburban adolescence.
More about Sarah Braunstein...

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