Friday, February 25, 2011

'The Fates Will Find Their Way' by Hannah Pittard

Fiction, 2011
Ecco/Harper Collins, trade pb (ARC), 240 p.
Source: Publisher/Harper Collins
From the front flap:
Sixteen-year-old Nora Lindell is missing. And the neighborhood boys she’s left behind are caught forever in the heady current of her absence.

As the days and years pile up, the mystery of her disappearance grows kaleidoscopically. A collection of rumors, divergent suspicions, and tantalizing what-ifs, Nora Lindell’s story is a shadowy projection of teenage lust, friendship, reverence, and regret, captured magically in the disembodied plural voice of the boys who still long for her.

Told in haunting, percussive prose, Hannah Pittard’s beautifully crafted novel tracks the emotional progress of the sister Nora left behind, the other families in their leafy suburban enclave, and the individual fates of the boys in her thrall. Far more eager to imagine Nora’s fate than to scrutinize their own, the boys sleepwalk into an adulthood of jobs, marriage, families, homes, and daughters of their own, all the while pining for a girl – and a life – that no longer exists, except in the imagination.

A masterful literary debut that shines a light into the dream-filled space between childhood and all that follows, The Fates Will Find Their Way is a story about the stories we tell ourselves – of who we once were and might someday become.
Nora Lindell, fellow schoolmate, and object of lust for the teenage boys of the neighbourhood, goes missing on Halloween. Her disappearance affects the whole community, but seemingly none so much as the neighbourhood boys, and it is through their collective voice that the story unfolds. This first person plural narrative style, and even the setting and the basic story premise are very reminiscent of Jeffrey Eugenides’ fabulous The Virgin Suicides. But I think that The Fates Will Find Their Way stands up well to the comparison.

Although the boys remain fixated on the missing Nora for most of their lives, and her disappearance is the thread that weaves through the entire book, it really isn’t about what happened to her at all. In fact, we never really get to know Nora very well as we only see her through the filter of the boys’ fantasies and memories. Instead, this is the boys’ story. It is through their reminiscences, and hopes, and regrets, that we learn more about these boys who eventually become husbands, and fathers, yet who can’t let go of the girl who once was.

They imagine possible scenarios. They fantasize about how her life could be now. Where she could be, who with, what she’s doing. The years pass, and she continues to fascinate them. It is her absence that raises her to almost mythical status among them, and keeps her ever present in their thoughts. In a way they live vicariously through her, this mysterious girl who escaped the middle-class suburban lifestyle that they grew up in, and are still entrenched in, in their own lives.
It seemed we had all finally stopped looking for her, asking about her. It was a sickness, a leftover from a youth too long protracted. Of course we still thought about her. Late at night, lying awake, especially in early autumn, when we could fall asleep for a few weeks with the bedroom windows open, the curtains pulled halfway, a breeze coming in and the occasional stray dry leaf, we still allowed ourselves the vague and unfair comparisons between what our wives were and what she might have been. At least we were able to acknowledge the futility of the fantasies, even if we still couldn’t control them.*
However, as the boys’ discover, we can never truly know those around us. We all keep secrets from each other, and we, too, are often more content to imagine what might be, than to face up to reality. Truth is relative after all, often only a manifestation of our hopes and desires.

This was a well-written, thoughtful, intelligent debut novel and I look forward to reading Hannah Pittard’s next book.

Words With Writers: Interview with Hannah Pittard
Three Guys One Book: Interview with Hannah Pittard
For more information, visit the Harper Collins website.

Buy The Fates Will Find Their Way at: | | |

Also reviewed by:
Boston Bibliophile
The Literate Housewife
Shelf Love
She is Too Fond of Books...
Devourer of Books
The Book Lady's Blog
Write for a Reader
Let me know if I've missed yours and I'll link to it here.

*Note: Quote was taken from the Advance Reader's Copy and may have been changed for the final bound copy.

The small print: This book was received free of charge from the publisher for review purposes. Links in this post to Amazon (including book cover), The Book Depository, or Kobobooks contain my Affiliates ID. Purchases made via these links earn me a very small commission. For more information please visit my About Page.


  1. This does sound interesting. I will add it to my never ending to read list ;)

  2. I'm torn about this one. I had an iffy experience with The Virgin Suicides, but I do like the premise.

  3. I am seeing this one around and think it looks good. I must read it at some point.

  4. The story reminds me of Zee's review of Ian McEwan's Amsterdam, because of the male figures thinking about a dead/missing female. There probably are a lot of differences, but it was just the first thought that sprang to mind.

  5. I just read Jen's review as well. This sounds like a wonderful book.

  6. Thanks for linking to my review and for writing a terrific one yourself!


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