The Longings of Wayward Girls
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The Longings of Wayward Girls

3.21 of 5 stars 3.21  ·  rating details  ·  1,210 ratings  ·  237 reviews
It's an idyllic New England summer, and Sadie is a precocious only child on the edge of adolescence. It seems like July and August will pass lazily by, just as they have every year before. But one day, Sadie and her best friend play a seemingly harmless prank on a neighborhood girl. Soon after, that same little girl disappears from a backyard barbecue; and she is never see...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 2nd 2013 by Washington Square Press
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There's a buzz book for the summer - you might have heard of it already -- The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. Featuring a time traveling serial killer, it has huge potential for a beach read thriller, but I don't know. Despite enjoying the main character, I felt it was missing something and my overall reaction after reading it was lukewarm.

This book on the other hand is much more to my liking. Probably closer to three and a half stars, it's an easy four in my books because it features all the...more
R. B. Young
Apr 16, 2013 R. B. Young rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of psychological suspense
Shelves: suspense
In this novel, Karen Brown meditates on the suffering that goes along with love and lust. This is her debut as a novelist, but Publishers Weekly named her Little Sinners and Other Stories as a Best Book of 2012.

Set in an middle class suburb near Hartford, Connecticut, The Longings of Wayward Girls is a psychological novel. The main character, Sadie Watkins, is a 36-year-old stay-at-home mother of two, and she’s grieving her recent miscarriage. In her undone state of mind, she starts an affair wi...more
Nicole (Reading Books With Coffee)
I'm just not sure what to think about The Longings Of Wayward Girls. There are 3 different stories going on- the newspaper articles about the disappearance of Laura Loomis, the summer of 1979, and the present time, which is 2003 in this book.

I'm not completely sure why the articles about Laura Loomis were included, because her story was told through the articles, and wasn't really mentioned throughout the book. Except for a few mentions of the family and a few mentions of people mistaking Sadie...more
Jessica Knauss
This book made me uncomfortable for long stretches. The discomfort came from the terrible decisions of some of the characters. I could hardly bear to read about what they were doing, and at the same time, I couldn't bear to put the book down, in the hope that they would come to their senses soon. Whether or not you agree with some of the things Sadie, for example, gets herself into, the masterful writing will make you turn the pages again and again. The novel is crammed with characters, so their...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
The Longings of Wayward Girls by Karen Brown alternates chapters between the past and the present. Sadie Watkins was a child in the 70’s. In 1974, a neighborhood girl, Laura Loomis, disappeared. It haunts the neighborhood even after five years have passed and influences how parents watch their daughters. Sadie, a young teen in 1979, resents the rules, but follows them grudgingly when she is forced to play with neighborhood girls. But, when Sadie and her best friend Betty play a prank on Francie,...more
Did you ever wonder what happened to the kids you went to school with? Were you part of the “in crowd,” a leader, a follower, or maybe you were the outcast, the one that others saw as fodder for cruelty for any number of reasons. No matter where you stood in the social pecking order, our youth and our actions, reactions or lack of action, affects our adulthood, if we try to bury it. Sadie is now a troubled adult, rightfully depressed by a recent miscarriage, but her problems go much deeper, and...more
Christoph Fischer
"The Longings of Wayward Girls" is a dark and compelling story, cleverly told in three narratives. One is set in 1974 when a little girl goes missing, although we hear only the newspaper articles about it.
One is about the summer of 1979, the summer something that changes the life of our heroine Sadie.
The third is set in 2003 and sees a married but unhappy Sadie take up an extra-marital affair with childhood heartthrob Ray.
The main characters all seem to have secrets or agendas and the suspense...more
The Longings of Wayward Girls grabbed me immediately. I was curious to see how the stories of the missing girl Laura and Sadie's sad world were going to weave together. Set in New England,the book spans about thirty years and jumps around three time periods. This was a deeper book so it required me to read a little more slowly than usual. I could not afford to miss any details being that they were all crucial to understanding the plot. Overall, I found the book to be interesting in a macabre way...more
Reading “The Longings of Wayward Girls” has left me in a day-dreamy sort of fog, and I always say it’s a good sign when your imagination can’t quite seem to leave a book behind.

The book’s main character, Sadie, is an imaginative adolescent when she plays a prank on another girl that ends up having dire consequences. The story is told between flashbacks to the summer of the prank, and the present, when Sadie is a wife and mother, dealing with a fresh loss in her life. When Ray, a quasi-friend fro...more
Mark Palm
There has been a spate of thrillers written by women over the past few years, and while this is not as ubiquitous as zombies or sexy vampires, to my mind, at least, the results have been far better, "The Longings of Wayward Girls", by Karen Brown seems to be just such a book. Uneasily straddling the lines between thriller and mainstream novel, this book comes down a bit on the side of the latter. It is the story of Sadie Watkins, told in alternating chapters by Ms. Brown; her life as a thirteen...more
I was shocked by how much I loved this book. I usually go into a book with just a few preconceived notions - usually formed from the plot description and a bit by the cover and genre, sometimes through the book's buzz. I didn't know anything about The Longings of Wayward Girls when I grabbed it. The plot sounded decent, the cover wasn't all that interesting, I figured it would be a mid-range thriller - fun to read and entertaining. What I did not expect was the depth that this novel conveys - I...more
Lisa B.

I have mixed emotions about this book. In several ways, I found it to be intriguing. The story is told in three time periods: short blurbs from 1974, and then much longer pieces during 1979 and 2003. I really wanted to find out how the author was going to tie all of it together. Ms. Brown did a good job of weaving this tale between past and present. While in great part I thought the author has a lovely writing style, there were time I thought it was bit drawn out. That being said, I do th...more
Becky Doughty
What can I say about this book? It was brilliant in its subtleties, but a little clumsy in its presentation. I thoroughly appreciated the way Ms. Brown unwrapped the characters by unwrapping their relationships, but the back and forth between time periods, between characters, and between events made it difficult to follow at times. I found myself going back a few times to figure out which girl/woman/man I was reading about.

Ms. Brown masterfully SHOWED us reasons for characters' behavior without...more
I'm torn between three and four stars for this book. The first half is three stars and the second half is four. Although beautifully written and evocative throughout, the first half of this book simply drags along. Nothing really happens and I couldn't find any real affection for the characters. Finally halfway through it starts to gain momentum and then I couldn't put the book down because I had to know how the mystery would unravel. The best thing Karen Brown does is capture the world of a twe...more
Bill Kupersmith
Karen Brown captured her setting perfectly. My mother grew up in a town in Connecticut very much like this one & as I listened to this book on audio I never had imagine anything - I just felt there in the seemingly endless late afternoons of children playing & their parents drinking cocktails & gossiping. I thought, tho', that the characters were much more interesting as children than as the people who they grew up to be, especially Sadie, the principal character. I wonder if authors...more
There are many things to admire about this book.

First, Brown renders childhood incredibly well. I didn't grow up in sleepy New England affluence, but I understood it here. Sadie is bright and bored, on the cusp of adulthood, curious about everything and left to her own devices for much of the time. This leads her to dabble in activities that have a certain moral laxity, both as a child and later as an adult. With Sadie's family history, it's apparent that she's trying to fill a void in her life...more
John Fleming
Fans of Karen Brown's award-winning story collections will recognize the gorgeous writing and the haunting mood of The Longings of Wayward Girls. Brown has a talent for enriching the smallest moments with depth and psychological complexity. The narrative moves between past and present and includes newspaper articles from the more distant past. What ties these threads together is the threat of disappearance. The setting is a small New England town with a through-line of vanishing girls. We learn...more
Alluring and haunting, The Longings of Wayward Girls is suspenseful novel from the prize winning author Karen Brown.

I found this beautiful and disturbing in equal measure. It kept me a state of tension throughout.

Things were wrapped up a bit *too* neatly in the end but it didn't take away from the book as a whole.
Sara Bauer
I think this one deserves an entire blog post. Or at least an author interview. Mind-blowing in its amazing-ness. Could not put this book down for five seconds. Scary. Suspenseful. Mysterious. Tragic. Quite the ride. I may have just found a new favorite author in Ms. Karen Brown.
Debra Rodgers
Much of the writing in this book is beautiful and poetic. As a person who is drawn to rural outdoor places, the descriptions were my favorite parts...I was there with all my senses.
I wasn't sure what I'd get at first. The plot started pretty sad, then was at a happy medium where there were normal, expected events and then ones which gave different insight. The writing style and switching from 2003 to 1979 were confusing at first, but easy enough to adjust to. The mystery element didn't seem to pick up until the second half of the book. Maybe that was just me though. I really liked the description of the mothering in both times, as well as the realistic display of woman to...more
Aaron Coder
Unflinching and unapologetic, Karen Brown’s The Longings of Wayward Girls will likely challenge readers in hugely personal ways. Sometimes an author takes us so deeply into the heart and mind of a protagonist that it becomes almost uncomfortable. Their memories and fears commingle with our own. We begin to notice reflections of ourselves in characters who are damaged by loss and grief, who in quiet desperation do the unthinkable, and we wonder: would I do that?

The writing is beautiful and, unli...more
Mischa Temaul
“She slips from the bed, crosses the cold floorboards, and as she gathers her clothing, she notices a suitcase tucked behind the chair. It is covered in plaster dust. The clasps are mottled with rust. A vintage American Tourister. Sadie remembers the old commercials—a suitcase being thrown from a train, tossed around by a gorilla in a cage. She pauses. The suitcase is familiar—turquoise faux leather with metal trim, a 1970s suitcase like one in the set her mother had” (65).

Author Karen Brown pen...more
I really liked this one! I hadn't heard anything about it, so didn't know what to expect, but it was a great surprise.

Told in alternating chapters of 1979 and 2003, main character Sadie Watkins' past and present collide when she runs into a former childhood crush, Ray Filley, who is in town to take care of his father's estate.

At a low point, after having a stillborn baby and feeling lost, 37 year-old married Sadie starts an affair with him. With Ray's presence also comes the memories of her chi...more
Pam Asberry
Combining elements of mystery and suspense with an exploration of the themes of friendship, mother-daughter relationships, marriage and infidelity, this book is the ultimate page-turner. From the back cover:

"It’s an idyllic New England summer, and Sadie is a precocious only child on the edge of adolescence. It seems like July and August will pass lazily by, just as they have every year before. But one day, Sadie and her best friend play a seemingly harmless prank on a neighborhood girl. Soon aft...more
Pam Camel
It's a good story and pretty well written. Easy read, even though it jumps from the past to present its not hard to follow. The part that made no sense was the Laura Loomis story. It was only told through newspaper stories and never tied into the story, other than she knew people and was from the same town. The book could have done without that angle. It's almost as if the writer wanted to play off the true life story of Janice to say based on a true story.
It really does become a story about mo...more
The Longings Of Wayward Girls
Karen Brown

My " in a nutshell" summary...

A novel that meanders back and forth through a neighborhood and through time. A girl never found...and we learn what this has done to grown up and a mother herself.

My thoughts after reading this book...

Oh my...this book is filled with complications...then and now...Sadie is miserable...she has just had a stillborn birth. She embarks upon a relationship with someone from her past outside of her mar...more
Review originally posted: Traveling With T

I won The Longings of Wayward Girls as part of Goodreads First-Reads program.

Sadie, a precocious child, lives in an ideal New England town. The town has tons of small-town charm- and yet, there is something amiss. Years earlier a girl disappears after leaving home from her friend's house- and while foul play was not suspected at first- the police and townsfolk do wonder.

The parents of the kids tell them to not play in the woods- and yet, Sadie and the ot...more
Cynthia Archer
I want to thank Washington Square Press and NetGalley for the chance to read this title.
At the beginning of this story, I had a hard time getting the events and characters straight. It begins with the newspaper report of the disappearance of a nine year old girl in a small Connecticut town in 1974. Then the author jumps ahead five years and picks up the story of Sadie and her friend Betty who are both 12, going on 13, during the summer of 1979. Later the story jumps ahead 20 years to the grown...more
Melanie Coombes
I really loved reading this book. It was haunting, suspenseful and set in a suburban Connecticut town in the late 70s.
I loved the setting. I grew up in a suburb of CT, so this was even more of a intriguing book for me to read. The time frame of 1979 was perfectly described and fun to compare how much has changed now.
Sadie is an only child right on the edge of adolescence. Her and the neighborhood children are left on their own to entertain themselves throughout the long summer days. The story...more
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Karen Brown was born in Connecticut. Her first collection of short stories, PINS AND NEEDLES, received The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. LITTLE SINNERS AND OTHER STORIES won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and the Binghamton University John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Her stories have appeared in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories 2008, Good Housekeeping, and in ma...more
More about Karen Brown...
Little Sinners, and Other Stories Pins and Needles

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“Sadie heard her inside cleaning up the kitchen and wondered what dreams Betty's mother had for herself, if all mothers had them, bottled up beneath their mother exteriors.” 0 likes
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