Songs for the Missing
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Songs for the Missing

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  2,630 ratings  ·  586 reviews
An enthralling portrait of one family in the aftermath of a daughter's disappearance.

It was the summer of her Chevette, of J.P. and letting her hair grow. It was also the summer when, without warning, popular high school student Kim Larsen disappeared from her small midwestern town. Her loving parents, her introverted sister, her friends and boyfriend must now do everythin...more
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published October 30th 2008 by Viking Adult (first published January 1st 2008)
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Ron
Nov 22, 2008 Ron rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who appreciates powerful realist fiction
When Stewart O'Nan decides to tell the story of a teenage girl's disappearance, don't go looking for a traditional suspense story -- instead, he chooses to focus on the emotional impact of that disappearance on the girl's family and her closest friends, and almost everything that pertains to the "crime story" takes place off-screen. The result is a quietly devastating set of "snapshots" that relentlessly chip away at our expectations of resolution and closure... while proving that it's still cap...more
Edan
I was going to give this book only two stars because it didn't seem particularly innovative or enthralling, but then I thought about the sad family in the book, and how they'd be hurt by such a low rating. The fact that they feel so real warrants another star.
Jenny.
I'm really not recommending this book; it explores a family's nightmare. Their oldest daughter, Kim, disappears one day on the way to work. At first of course they think she's run away but there's no reason to- she's off to college in just a few weeks. And so the book unrolls from various people's perspectives- the mom, the dad, the sister, the boyfriend, the best friend and he does a good job of mining the different experiences of loss. When did I give up hope? When did they? But as everyone kn...more
Linda
Just weeks from leaving for college, Kim feels herself on the brink of an exciting new life. Like most teens, she keeps secrets from her parents, but she’s a good kid. Then, one summer day, she vanishes. She’s simply gone.

Songs for the Missing is less about Kim herself than about those destined to struggle in the aftermath of her disappearance. Told from the varying perspectives of her mother, father, and younger sister, and her boyfriend and two best friends, the narrative takes the reader thro...more
Carrie Gross
This book really wasn't worth my time. It had the makings of a great book but really never went anywhere. I found the family a little creepy and at the same time couldn't really get into their characters.
Matt
It is one thing to know; it is another thing to never know at all.

The first murder trial I ever worked was a twelve-year old girl gone missing one November night. The last image of her – other than that fixed in the mind of her killer, as he crushed her skull – was caught by a security camera as she exited her bus. She went missing that night. For months people searched, by the hundreds. Police and detectives and the State Patrol and FBI agents and citizens. By foot and horse and helicopter. Ev...more
Shawn
I told Stewart O'Nan, at a book signing recently, that I didn't think he was capable of writing a bad book. He laughed and said that he could very well prove Me wrong.
After reading "Songs for the Missing", I'm no less convinced of what I said -- he is an amazing writer.
That being said, however, I was hoping for this to be better than it turned out to be. O'Nan is always brilliant at writing about the mundanities of everyday life. His prose is always simple, yet powerful. Unfortunately, with th...more
Judy
A few weeks before leaving for college, Kim Larsen disappeared on her way to work in a small town in Ohio. This book deals with the aftermath of her disappearance on her family, friends, and on the residents of the town itself. Despite the usual reactions--desperate searches that go on for days, television appearances and pleas--this book examines the effect of living with the unknown. As a family begins to unravel and each person dealt with the tragedy in their own way, questions are raised abo...more
Skye
Wow, what a tough book to rate. I loved how it was written, and the voices of the characters. Beautiful language and honest description of the teenagers.
But somehow a lot of it range false, almost from the moment Kim went missing. Cops stepping into high gear for someone who's technically an adult? The mother perkily making flyers? I couldn't buy it. Maybe that's how some people react in a crisis, but if someone I loved vanished into thin air I'd be a wreck. And it seemed that they accepted tha...more
Jaclyn Day
This book is pretty brilliant. It’s also sad and introspective and thought-provoking, but mostly brilliant. It’s the story of Kim Larsen, a pretty 18-year-old, who disappears mysteriously one summer night. The police are lackadaisical about her disappearance at first, but foul play becomes evident before long. It’s a tabloid, true crime-ish plot, but it’s not really about Kim’s disappearance, or the investigation or the person who kidnapped her. It’s about the family she left behind (her mother,...more
Karen
MY REVIEW OF SONGS FOR THE MISSING BY STEWART O’NAN

Although Stewart O'Nan's book SONGS FOR THE MISSING gives the hope and impression of a fast paced, highly anticipated read, it falls short. Instead, the readers are the ones who will find themselves missing...missing out on a better book.

Kim Larsen, preparing to enter college, goes missing the summer before she is to leave. The story introduces Kim and her friend’s characters fairly well and also leaves little clues of what secrets they may hol...more
Betty
Nov 02, 2008 Betty rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of realistic fiction
This was a very well-written book following the story not of the missing young girl but of her family and friends. The disappearance, the loss, the helplessness, the hope, the eventual acceptance, all are there and we live it with them. It is a book about relationships as well. Every step was believable. Having been through sudden emotional trauma myself (albeit not the same trauma), I know that as time passes and you start to notice the rest of the world, it's a tremendous shock to find out tha...more
Victoria
I read about this books in my on-line upcoming book release newsletters and in Entertainment Weekly. What drew me to it mostly was because when I was in college, a woman my age vanished. She, nor her remains, sadly, has never been found. I felt such compassion for her family and some of her friends, who I worked with at my summer job. I thought maybe reading it would help me process even my very removed sadness for all they went through, and what a community goes through when someone is kidnappe...more
Elaine
Kim Larsen is simply enjoying the summer before she heads off to college - just an all-american teen. Then one day Kim fails to show up for her shift at the local Conoco, and the nightmare for her family begins. The police think she has run away, but her family knows better. They organize search parties and television appearances to bring attention to Kim and her plight. But as the weeks wear on, and the tip line brings in one dead end after another, Kim's family has to face the fear that they l...more
Mel
Jun 09, 2008 Mel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like realistic fiction
Recommended to Mel by: First Look
Shelves: own, fiction
I read this book as an ARC. I really enjoyed the author's writing style (very detailed and realistic), but found the characters to be lacking. It is the story of a recent high school graduate who goes missing during the summer before she leaves for college. The way the book is structured is that the situation unfolds through the perspectives of her family and closest friends. I found this technique quite novel and interesting, though in the end it just didn't do it for me. I just couldn't relate...more
Janet
I read this over a long weekend--I hardly ever do that, as I get distracted or something only grabs my interest sporadically. But this one kept me interested enough to want to keep coming back each spare moment I had until I finished it. While so much happens in the external meat of this story, the real tale is in the day to day mundane that stays the same, even as a whirlwind occurs. The details are stunning and never boring.
Skrot
A nicely understated examination of the effect a teenage girl's disappearance has on her family, friends and the local community. Some of the most affecting moments are very subtle, sneaking up on you the next day and nearly taking your breath away. Given the subject matter, the book could have been melodramatic, but kept a good balance throughout of grief, compassion and realism.
Tj
This book took me much longer to read than most books do. I liked the characters and I liked the story line, but found myself bored with the repeativness of the telling of the story. It could have been condensed into a short story for me.
Carey
Meet Kim Larsen. She is eighteen years old, pretty and popular, and about a month away from leaving for college and the wider world. She can hardly wait. Like most small town kids, she and her friends chafe from the sameness and boredom of daily life. They drink more than they should and experiment a bit with drugs. But they are good kids at heart and are so looking forward to going away, being on their own, growing up.

Then, somewhere in the short distance between her home and her workplace, she...more
Wendi
Best Read For: Personal reading, book club reading, great for discussions

In a nutshell: Stuart O'Nan has written a fictional book that reads like non-fiction in that it explores the events and emotions experienced by friends, family, neighbors and volunteers as the search for a missing girl progresses, providing the reader with great insight into what experiences might be like surrounding a missing person. I found myself viewing events going on around me a little differently after reading this b...more
Jennifer
I felt compelled to read this novel after the author visited our library. This is the story of a girl who goes missing. Does she run away? has she been abducted? murdered? only reading through this book will get you the answer. You encounter a list of characters...the missing girl's family, her friends, her love interest, the community and media. You go through their anguish, their hopes, fears and grief. Ultimately you do discover what happens to the young girl who went missing, but it takes a...more
Glen
So far I'm pleasantly surprised 'cause this wasn't recommended to me by a buddy. I like the dialogue, the descriptions, narration. The thing that's missing for me is some emotion... I'm reading about a crisis, and everything seems a little too pat. Stay tuned. 1/3: I'm really enjoying this book, and that's rare for one I selected myself (without a personal recommendation from a friend). It's in the same vein as A Year of Fog or The Deep End of the Ocean (subject is missing person). This book is...more
Diane
What would do if your teen aged daughter disappeared without a trace? When—if ever—do you stop looking for her?

This is exactly what happens to Kim Larsen, age 18, popular, a small town Ohio girl just weeks before she is to leave for college. She spends an afternoon at the lake with her friends then never shows up for work that evening and is never seen again. It is not until the next morning that her parents, and 15 year old sister, realize Kim is missing.

The book starts out like a mystery, but...more
Kim
I wasn't sure whether to read Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan. It just seemed not to be my usual type, but I have been known to step outside my usual literature and like what I have read. Such was the case with Songs for the Missing. This was an excellent book.

Kim Larsen is an 18 year-old resident of Kingsville, Ohio. Like most 18 year-olds, she has just finished high school is getting ready to leave Kingsville for college. She disappears on her way to work one afternoon, but not until th...more
M
O'Nan is my man. I love his subtle, quiet prose, his rich but never over the top details, his unassuming presentation of family dynamic. I could see why some might consider his books boring (nothing really happens) but this is what I love about him.
This was a heart wrenching tale, all the more so given its even tone, about a young girl, Kim, who, the summer before her start at college, goes missing. Her parents dedicate themselves to finding her, her clique begins getting concerned about secret...more
K
i had been longing to read one of stewart o'nan's books for a long time...he's a friend of stephen king and i had always heard good things about his books. i'm so glad i was chosen to read Songs for the Missing as part of the Barnes and Noble First Look Book Club. this book was wonderful. i tend to lean toward mysteries and thrillers and historial fiction, or the latest best seller, not all of which lend themselves to great writing. while the subject matter of Songs was depressing and sad and qu...more
Jessica Jeffers
This really gets three and a half stars.

Set in a small town in Ohio, between Lake Erie and the Pennsylvania state line, this book examines what happens to the friends and family of Kim Larsen, an eighteen year old woman who goes missing the summer after her high school graduation. Different chapters focus on the perspective of her parents, younger sister, best friend, and boyfriend as they struggle with the emotional fallout in the weeks and months following Kim's disappearance.

Stewart O'Nan is...more
Maya
It may be unfair for me to compare this to other O'Nan novels, but this wasn't really his finest. Which isn't to be lightly dismissed: O'Nan writing half as well as normal is still better than most.

What I will say, though is that this feels as though Stewart O'Nan wrote a Jodi Picoult novel. It's the type of thing Picoult has come to more or less own: a novel about horrible things that happen to families. So when a beloved daughter/sister/friend goes missing in O'Nan's book, it's hard not to go...more
Bogydog
Stewart O'Nan continues to be one of my favorite authors of all time, and this book is a fine addition to his canon. Although it focuses on the kidnapping of a teenage girl, this is a book of small, revealing truths (instead of getting lost in the lurid details). When Kim Larsen is kidnapped, her family is predictably besieged by the American media (what, with Kim being a popular, pretty white girl). But, we stay with the family once the media starts to lose interest. And we still stay once even...more
Pamela Pickering
Jun 29, 2008 Pamela Pickering rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Pamela by: BN Firstlook
Shelves: bn-first-look
I should clarify my 2 star rating. I only rate this 2 stars simply because these types of story lines are very hard for me to deal with. I rarely tend to like them. I had the same type reaction to Lovely Bones. This was read as an ARC for BN bookclub. The story is less about the one who goes missing but focus purely on those the missing leaves behind. The writing was straightforward (always a big hit with me) and easy to read. It seemed like there were many subtle meanings behind many of the pas...more
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Loved it! 2 31 Jan 25, 2009 01:16PM  
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Stewart O'Nan is the author of eleven novels, including Snow Angels and A Prayer for the Dying, a story collection, and two works of nonfiction. His previous novel, Last Night at the Lobster, was a national bestseller, was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was named one of the New York Public Library Books to Remember. Additionally, Granta named him one of the 20 Best Young Ameri...more
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