switterbug (Betsey)'s Reviews > The Fates Will Find Their Way

The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard
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Feb 22, 11

Read in January, 2011

This is a small concept book, very short and insular in premise, that deepens and reverberates eloquently. When a sixteen-year-old high school girl goes missing one Halloween from a "mid-Atlantic" (and obviously small) town, she is mythologized by the people she left behind, especially a group of her male peers. The narrative covers several decades, in a non-linear but succinct, crisp structure. The narrators are a group of voices that become one voice, a collective consciousness of sorts. The reader doesn't distinguish differences between the voices, which Pittard intended. I liked the concept in theory (the collective voice) but occasionally, in reading, the lack of discrete voices was understimulating.

The missing girl, Nora Lindell, becomes more than herself. She morphs into an enigma, and eventually into a symbol of "a tally of the people who left us behind." Nora is merely a point of departure to explore and examine the lives of these boys, now men, who failed to live large, whose dreams were often squelched, and who sometimes made poor choices. Their fantasies of Nora's life or death after that Halloween are projections of their own private guilt, fears, diminished dreams, and desires. Nora herself alternately fades and hovers in the subconscious of these men's lives. She becomes their cherished avatar.

The prose is economical and lovely, giving us a haunting coming-of-age story that is innovative and engaging. I did have a bit of a problem accepting that the voices were male, as it read as soft and female to me. I wasn't convinced that these disembodied voices were attached to male characters, and it became a weakness that occasionally removed me from the story's authenticity. (The gender is quite significant in the book's context and mood.)

As a debut novel (really, novella), it is still an impressive and courageous accomplishment. A few wobbly parts, yes, but I am glad I read it, and look forward to watching this author mature.
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