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The Longings of Wayward Girls

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  2,350 ratings  ·  336 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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Karen Brown I don't think it's scary--more puzzling and creepy? It's broken into two parts: Sadie as a thirteen-year-old, and then as a married woman with two…moreI don't think it's scary--more puzzling and creepy? It's broken into two parts: Sadie as a thirteen-year-old, and then as a married woman with two children, so it's not written for teen, but it is certainly suitable for a teen reader. (less)

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3.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,350 ratings  ·  336 reviews

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May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Megan Abbott and Gillian Flynn

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
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
R.B. Young
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
I remember picking up this book based solely on the cover and title. Now that I've read it, I think the cover and the title are appropriate (which is not always the case - soooo many books have a great title and a gorgeous cover, and the story doesn't even come close to living up to them), but unfortunately, the story was actually a bit mundane, in my opinion.

It took a long time for this to get going, what with the layers of story, shifting timelines, dual narration (past and present). By the t
Jessica Knauss
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
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
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Holly Robinson
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Longings of Wayward Girls is a deceptive novel in that it easily crosses genres and keeps you in its grips once you're two pages into it. Yes, it's a mystery—there are girls that go missing, and tragic deaths to be solved. And, yes, it's also one of those “relationships” novels with women in conflict that is typically peddled as women's fiction. But this novel is much more than the sum of its parts. For starters, we have a female protagonist, Sadie, who is not always nice—hooray! She torment ...more
Christoph Fischer
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"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
Amongst other things, this is a book about infidelity. If you can't handle reading about it, steer clear of this book.

There are two time lines at work in this novel. The summer of 1979, just before Sadie Watkins turned thirteen, there was trouble brewing at home and in her neighborhood. By the summer of 2003 (and the months leading up to it), Sadie is a married mother of two, dissatisfied with her life. These two time lines are connected and I found the reveal of old mysteries to be very satisf
Mischa Temaul
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“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
Aug 27, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Becky Doughty
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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
Mark Palm
Aug 22, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women, chick-lit
The experiences of childhood help form who we become as adults--and then sometimes come back to haunt us. Karen Brown explores that connection in her beautifully-written book through the experiences of a young girl/woman she names Sadie. The book alternates between Sadie's 1979 childhood and her 2003 life as an adult. Growing up the daughter of a neglectful, alcoholic mother, Sadie found less than desirable ways to amuse herself and her friends, including a cruel prank involving a neighbor girl, ...more
Shay Caroline
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
The first half of this book passed like the setting of the story, the slow unfolding of a suburban summer. It was okay, not great, not bad. Then, as soon as I hit the half-way point, it really picked up, and I couldn't put it down until nearly the end.

There are two stories here, centering on one character. There is twelve-year-old Sadie together with her friend Betty, using the long summer days to play an ongoing prank on a slightly younger neighborhood girl, as well as to nurse a resentment ag
Suzanne M Seidel
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
I thought the book was kind of a snoozer. Which is interesting considering the subject matter – secret pen pals, missing children, affairs, and a suicide. Even with all of those components the story kind of dragged. Part of that was the person of Sadie. I didn’t like her or connect with her or feel sorry for her. I felt nothing for her. Not even annoyance or shock that she was leaving her family. Not even sympathy that she had lost a baby. I don’t know Craig at all so I felt nothing for him eith ...more
Dani Moore
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sadie grew up differently, her mother often "sick" or "too tired" to drag herself out of bed. in 1979 a young girl that looked startlingly like her disappeared. She had a fairly normal childhood otherwise, playing for long hours with her friends, until the day her mother left permanently.

In present day, 2002, Sadie is a Mom herself. Her husband loves her, her children need her, but after the loss of her baby girl, perfect, but stillborn, she feels disconnected from her life. She meets up with a
Lisa B.
May 27, 2013 rated it really liked it

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
Feb 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
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
Aaron Coder
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014
Ugh. What a SNOOZE! I had to fight to finish this book. All of the characters lacked depth (Sadie was one of the most unlikable characters I've ever comes across), and the plot was so choppy and overly descriptive. There were lots of useless details, useless people, useless storylines. It wanted to have an element of mystery but since it barely had a functional plot, there was no way it could follow though with any intrigue. The only mystery is why this book even got published.

Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Jaime Boler
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: july-2013
Compelling, atmospheric and smart, The Longings of Wayward Girls lures you in, beguiles, and even abducts you for a time. You are in Brown’s dark domain where deep guilt, loss and impossible longing rule. Little Sinners, and Other Stories as well as Pins and Needles made Brown the darling of critics, but I predict The Longings of Wayward Girls will speak to readers and critics alike. Brown is a powerful force in fiction today, but her new novel makes her distinct voice even louder and more relev ...more
Sep 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Liked it.
Feb 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I picked up this book without finding out anything ahead of time. When I started it, I immediately thought I wouldn't like it. Half of the book takes place in 1979, half in 2002-2003. The former is about Sadie's childhood, the latter about her her as an adult. Generally, not my cup of tea, but Sadie is a compelling character, and I couldn't put the book down. The foreshadowing helped because I had ideas of what would happen, saving me from the frustration I usually feel when a book holds out on ...more
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Karen Brown’s Little Sinners and Other Stories was named a Best Book of 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly; her previous collection, Pins and Needles received AWP’s Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction; and her first novel, The Longings of Wayward Girls, was published in 2013 by Washington Square Press. The Clairvoyants is forthcoming from Henry Holt in February 2017. Her work has been featured in The PEN/ ...more
“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.” 1 likes
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