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Still Missing

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  876 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
Alex Selky, going on seven, kissed his mother goodbye and set off for school, a mere two blocks away. He never made it. Desperate to find him, his mother begins a vigil that lasts for days, then weeks, then months. She is treated first as a tragic figure, then as a grief-crazed hysteric, then as anreminder of the bad fortune that can befall us all. Against all hope, despit ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 3rd 2005 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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“It may be true that one loss helps to prepare for the next, at least in developing a certain rueful sense of humour about things you’re too old to cry about. There’s plenty of blather, some of it true, about turning pain into growth, using one blow to teach you resilience and to make you ready for the shock of the next one. But the greater truth is that life is not something you can go into training for. There was nothing in life Susan Selky could have done to prepare for the breathtaking impac ...more
Karen Mace
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very modern offering from the Persephone publishers, having first been published in 1981, and that was what intrigued me into picking up this book! It reads very much as a modern thriller/mystery and feels much more relatable than some of their other titles and I think that is what made it such a tense and thrilling read.

It is the story of 6 year old Alex who disappears on his way to school one morning, and the anguish and torment that his family go through in the coming days and month
Jun 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Originally published in 1981, this novel, now re-issued by Persephone, is a relatively modern offering from them. It is however a fantastically paced, hard to put down novel. The story is a simple one – One day Susan’s six year old son Alex goes missing. This is the story of what is to be the mother of a child who is missing. The accusations, the press attention, the false hopes, the bereavement like existence she lives. It is a poignant and gripping account. Susan’s desperation and frustrations ...more
Suanne Laqueur
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Beth Gutcheon turned out to be one of my favorite authors in 2000. Still Missing held me in its grips right until the last paragraph. It was a perfect blend of crime thriller, mystery and real-life solid emotion.

To see if it was a fluke, I went back for seconds and read Gutcheon's novel Domestic Pleasures which was every bit as good.
Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Alex Selky, age 6 and 3/4 walks himself to school alone for the last 6 months, after all it was just a mere 2 blocks away. He's a smart kid who knows not to dawdle, not to talk to strangers and keeps a dime that he can use for calls during an emergency. But then on the hot bright morning of May 15' 1980, he bids his mom goodbye, turned the corner and never made it to school.

Susan Selky is a literature college professor. She'd been divorced for 3 months and is living with her only son Alex. May
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first it seems a little strange that Persephone Books, a publisher dedicated to producing handsome new editions of neglected female authors from the early twentieth century, should choose to reprint ‘Still Missing’ by Beth Gutcheon. Originally released in 1981, the book was highly successful, and not long after its release it was made into a film (‘Without a Trace’). But perhaps it slipped out of the public consciousness even while its themes filtered through to the mainstream. At least in th ...more
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
One day, the worst that can happen to a mother happens. Alex Selky, Susan’s son, disappears when he is on his way to school. Nobody has seen him after he turned around the corner of the block.
How is this possible?
Months of stress and sorrow follow. Where is Alex? And is he still alive?
People start calling Susan to give her their opinion and advice. The media is also interested in the story and wants to pay a lot for a TV-show about the case.
Meanwhile, police and volunteers start looking for the
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Alex Selky, going on seven, kisses his mother goodbye and sets off for his school that's only two blocks away. He never gets there. His mother is desperate to find him and begins a vigil that lasts for days, then weeks, then months and never gives up hope that he'll be found alive.

This book originally came out in the early 80's but had been out of print in Britain for some time before Persephone books published it again. I wasn't sure how I would get on with reading it as my daughters are a simi
Oct 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: persephone
Six-year-old Alex Selky disappears on his way to school and nobody knows until late afternoon when he doesn't come home. The scene is set by the shattering moment when his mother realises she has gone through a normal day while some nightmare has been happening to him, and from there the book goes on to focus mostly on his mother and her struggle to get people to keep looking for him after the first media interest wears off.

I thought that Beth Gutcheon did a wonderful job of portraying a woman i
Johanna Gail Tongco
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Talking about books which showed the horror a mother felt when losing her child, this book is a good example of it. Indeed this one is thrilling. It can also be compared to Flight Plan which Jodie Foster starred, but this one is quite different.

When Susan's son, Alex, was lost, the whole town helped her out in finding the almost seven year old kid. Everyone then felt helpless, but as a mother who dearly loves her son, she never gave up.
Jun 23, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
" Persephone Books publishes forgotten fiction and non- fiction by unjustly neglected authors"
Now the clue should have been in the original publication date of 1981; but silly me I was lulled into a false sense of security by the Persephone imprint. This is a relatively entertaining whodunnit but nothing more. Feel somewhat aggrieved I must say. A bit like picking up a Virago classic and finding it to be chick lit.Humph.
Just not in the same class as Saplings,or Little Boy Lost.
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
An absolutely beautifully written, heart wrenching story. Wonderful.
Peter Stone
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a compelling read. The basic plot is by no means unusual but its treatment leaves you desperate to know what will happen and in despair that a little boy will never be found alive.A six year old boy goes missing on the way to school in Boston. His clever mother, recently separated from her feckless husband, is naturally distraught but as the days unfold she starts to learn some unpleasant truths about some of her family and friends and also about herself. The police role is brilliantly p ...more
So, I mistakenly read this entire book thinking it was nonfiction, and I was blown away by the intimate detail--how many people had the author interviewed, and with what level of skill, to get them to open up about these most private, devastating moments? Then, when it finished, I Googled the main character to learn more about the real story and how closely the novel adhered to it, and I realized that this book was fiction. It's still hard to wrap my head around, because I feel like I would have ...more
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a gripping book. I don't think I've ever read anything quite like this before. This was a (terrifying) account of what it's like for a parent when their child goes missing told in excruciating detail. My heart broke 1000 times for Susan. Overall, this was so well done and I caught myself holding my breath at times.

I will say the "gay panic"scenes have not aged well. Even though Susan was admirable throughout, and this aspect of the story was definitely era-appropriate, it still reads a lit
Sarah Ryan
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
"You could hardly get to age thirty-four without learning something about loss." And with that one line, I was in. I found this in the library, a plain grey unassuming cover and intriguing excerpt on the sleeve. I feel like I've stumbled on a secret everyone was in on but me. I read it in two days. What makes it more intriguing is that it's based on the true story of the author's neighbours, with conflicting reports of how she got her information.
Karine Martel
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Une lecture triste, qui nous secoue dans notre rôle de parents. L’histoire pourrait être la nôtre, un enfant qui disparaît au coin de la rue. La vie qui bascule pour le reste de l’entourage. Les vies brisées des enfants après un enlèvement. Tout porte à réfléchir et nous ramène dans notre rôle de parent. À lire lorsque notre état d’esprit le permet...
Erin Ellis
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Wow, I BURNED through this book. Gutcheon is brilliant at creating an unrelenting, vivid suspense that lasts through the whole thing. But even though it's about a missing persons case, and the plot centers on the case, it isn't strictly a mystery novel. You keep reading because of the case, but the most beautiful parts are about Susan's emotional journey. It's honestly stunning.
Susan Springer
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
A six year old boy is kidnapped on the way to school and the aftermath is described in heart-wrenching and almost unendurable detail. The mother never gives up her belief that her son will
return one day, despite being considered a grief-crazed hysteric. A mother's love has no bounds.
Apr 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries, persephone
A seven-year old boy sets out for school, just a two block walk from his home in Boston. What happens when he never arrives? Told from his mother’s perspective, this well-written story traces her feelings and reactions through each step of the investigation as it slowly unfolds.

Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
A mesmerising portrayal of loss, grief and hope. Gutcheon's gift is conveying so much depth and observation of human spirit and behaviour in such sparse prose.
You just put it down

An intense griping read you just have to read to the end without putting it down . You . Won't regret reading this novel.
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
It is hard to know where to begin and what to say about this story, and a very well written book at that about a true story, of a child that went missing one fine school day after his mother saw him off - the seven year old went to school walking since it was close. The story is about the mother who went through every possible stage one can imagine under the circumstances except she did not give up, did not lose courage and strength and fortitude and hope, hope that amounted to almost a determin ...more
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One day, the worst that can happen to a mother happens. Alex Selky, Susan’s son, disappears when he is on his way to school. Nobody has seen him after he turned around the corner of the block.
How is this possible?
Months of stress and sorrow follow. Where is Alex? And is he still alive?
People start calling Susan to give her their opinion and advice. The media is also interested in the story and wants to pay a lot for a TV-show about the case.
Meanwhile, police and volunteers start looking for the
Aug 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
On an ordinary day in May 1980, six-year-old Alex Selky walks two short blocks toward his school in a comfortable and gentrified Boston neighborhood...and then disappears, without a trace.

His mother, Susan Selky, a university professor, awaits his return home from school that afternoon, only to discover when she calls another mother that he never arrived there at all.

A massive search begins, and the subsequent weeks are consumed with media coverage, a police presence, TV shows seeking to intervi
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kevin by: Work Colleague

Still Missing is about a six year old boy who goes missing one morning as he walks to school. The story focuses mainly on the mother's grief in losing her son and possibly realizing that she may never see him again.


I felt that the main theme that runs through this book is that of 'hope'. Susan, the mother, never gives up hope of seeing her son again, regardless of what other people (neighbours, friends etc) say and feel.


David Evans
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's funny when hear a book being talked about on the radio as a classic page-turner that everyone has read; that it's been out 30 years; and you've never heard of it. Eventually I tracked down the Persephone issue in Bath. If you were not hooked after page 2 then don't read on. This story describes the aftermath to the disappearance of a six year old Boston boy who vanishes, seemingly into thin air, on his way to school. The emotional torture of the guilt-ridden parents and the frantic searchin ...more
Dec 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Although I read this in just two days and it is undoubtedly a page-turner, I came away feeling the story is disingenuous somehow. It was published in 1981, two years after the disappearance of six-year old Etan Patz in New York which was a major news event at the time and surely Gutcheon cannot have failed to have been aware of the search for Patz (who has never been found and was declared legally dead in 2001). Although Still Missing is not an account of the Patz story it clearly describes very ...more
Dec 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
Wow, this book lived up to the often-used but rarely true description ‘unputdownable’. A child goes missing. The story follows the mother over the coming hours, weeks, months as the investigation gears into action and then, inevitably, winds down. The mother’s agony goes through several different iterations. There are false leads, the usual creeps and weirdos turn up to offer their assistance. Everyone is affected, including friends and neighbours who come to resent the intrusion into their priv ...more
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Beth Gutcheon grew up in western Pennsylvania. She was educated at Harvard where she took an honors BA in English literature. She has spent most of her adult life in New York City, except for sojourns in San Francisco and on the coast of Maine. In 1978, she wrote the narration for a feature-length documentary on the Kirov ballet school, The Children of Theatre Street, which was nominated for an Ac ...more
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