Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Songs for the Missing” as Want to Read:
Songs for the Missing
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Songs for the Missing

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  3,336 Ratings  ·  669 Reviews
Returning again to the theme of working-class people and their wrenching concerns, "Songs for the Missing" begins with the suspenseful pace of a thriller, following an Ohio community's efforts to locate a young woman who has gone missing. It soon deepens into an affecting portrait of a family trying desperately to hold onto itself and the memory of a daughter whose return ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 30th 2008 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Songs for the Missing, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Songs for the Missing

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Until recently, I had been a huge consumer of news.... both national and international news... but even if you AREN'T a news consumer, you have most likely heard stories of people disappearing, both adults and children. In the case of children, many are kidnapped by non-custodial parents unhappy with custody orders. In the adult cases, some have decided to walk away and start new lives. And of course, in the remaining cases, foul play is responsible for the person's disappearance. It is the disa ...more
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime, arc
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
Feb 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Carrie Gross
Jan 20, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Kingsville was one of those many forgettable towns that the cars on I-90 passed, at best a gas fill-up between Youngstown, Cleveland, Sandusky, Toledo, and beyond. Comfortable, predictable, boring. The Larsen family is typical. Kim has a summer job at the convenience store of the local gas staion. In the fall she will be off to college. Her younger sister Lindsay will be a sophomore in the fall, too young to hang with Kim and her friends. Their dad Ed is a realtor who likes to go fishing in his ...more
Jaclyn Day
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
SONGS FOR THE MISSING. (2008). Stewart O’Nan. ***.
O’Nan is a fine writer. In this book he tackles one of the most difficult situations in the world – a young person gone missing. We read stories about these cases most every day, but aside from a moment or two of thought put them out of our minds. Thinking about them becomes too painful. O’Nan forces us to look closely at one of these events and the effects it has on the family and friends of the missing person. We see and feel their initial shoc
Nov 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Stuart O'Nan writes with simplicity and profound power. His writing is spare, yet it possesses depth and grace. He has not failed these facilities in narrating this sad, very moving tale. It is the story of a teen age girl, a recent high school graduate, who has disappeared. He has deftly approached this by introducing the reader to her parents, her sister and her friends, and powerfully displaying the responses of these individuals to their loss. It is a haunting, evocative and suspenseful achi ...more
Oct 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
I didn't like this book nearly as much as I liked the others I read by this author. It felt a bit more cliched and didn't really arouse the emotion in me that I would have expected. The last few chapters picked up somewhat, but overall it was kind of "meh" for me.
Aug 31, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Nov 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
May 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, june
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
Sep 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, writing
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.
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Stephanie (That's What She Read)
3.5 I liked the multiple points of view, but I wish I had had a more emotional attachment to the story. Everyone was a little cold in their grief
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 10, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Loved it! 2 32 Jan 25, 2009 01:16PM  
  • Echoes
  • Goldengrove
  • The Believers
  • The Missing
  • Old Boy, Vol. 8
  • The Wilde Women
  • The God of Nightmares
  • Unnatural Selection (Gideon Oliver, #13)
  • The Sister
  • In the Space Left Behind
  • Taming Me: Memoir of a Clever Island Cat
  • Tourist Season: Stories
  • Her Last Death
  • The Reserve
  • The House on Fortune Street
  • The Whiteness of Bones
  • Sourland
  • The Other Mother
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
More about Stewart O'Nan...
“The sins of the Midwest: flatness, emptiness, a necessary acceptance of the familiar. Where is the romance in being buried alive? In growing old?” 16 likes
“She had a vision of the two of them trapped on a tiny raft surrounded by miles of open water. It would be a kind of test, like surviving on a desert island--but that's what a marriage was, wasn't it? They would have to help each other or die.” 10 likes
More quotes…