The Fates will Find their Way by Hannah Pittard

Friday, June 17, 2011


The Fates Will Find Their Way
We packed our trunks and suitcases, prepared for our natural and necessary moves away from home. Outwardly, we breathed sighs of relief at the somber comfort of growing up. Inwardly, we held our breath and tried to stand as still as possible, afraid we might be the only ones who didn’t yet feel the promised calm of adulthood.

When I first heard of this book, I was barely interested in it. It sounded like a cliched YA fiction to me. But some reviews (I'm sorry I don't remember whose) highlighted enough intriguing aspects of this book for me to want to try it. And funnily, I realized that this was neither a cliched story (it's a story told in a very unique form), nor was it remotely-YA (Not that the YA label would bother me, but cliched and YA together would, just like cliched and adult together.)

Seventeen-year old Nora Lindell is missing. And no one knows what happened to her. Is she alive or dead? Was she kidnapped or did she run away from home? A group of boys from her hometown who knew her, reminisce about her and try to imagine what must have happened to her. Into their story of infinite possibilities, their teenage lust and desires also weave in. Over time, as they become older, graduate, get married and have kids, they remain as obsessed with her disappearance as ever. That essentially is what the book is about. I know that's why I wasn't too curious about it - the synopsis didn't carry any thing in it that would intrigue me.

But, once I started reading this 150-page book, it was a delicious treat! Hannah Pittard's writing is wonderful and engaging! It's the kind of writing your eyes stay glued to, and the thought of stopping never enters your mind. If I had to keep reading a book that oozed with sex and lust, albeit the non-erotic type, the writing should be better than par, since I usually have negligible patience for those elements in my books.
Nora Lindell was gone. And, with Trey Stephens in jail, he was gone, too, in a way. By this time, we'd already lost Minka Dinnerman and Mr. Lindell as well (a car crash and cancer, respectively). It seemed, some days, that life was nothing more than a tally of the people who'd left us behind.
(How that last sentence moved me!)

The narrators of the book are a group of boys who talk in the plural. There are two threads followed in this book - one is the present, as the boys age into men and get settled into their lives. Not all the boys enter the idyllic suburban family life - some don't marry. The other thread follows Nora, as the boys try to construct a possible outcome for her. Some of their guesses are driven by certain events and sightings that actually happen, and as I kept reading, I was desperately hoping that some of the nicer possibilities were true. Do we eventually find out what happened to Nora? I don't want to spoil that for you.

The Fates will Find their Way made me think about trust and truth. I realized how easy it was to construct a whole new story for someone you don't know or someone who went missing. How many people we have come across over these years that we don't meet or see anymore? That quiet girl at school. That boy who moved out of our town one year. That teacher who married and moved to a different state. So many threads that intertwine with ours for an instant and then depart. What happened to them eventually? We really never know, but we can imagine. And that's what these boys did. Moreover, if it is so easy to make a story, who do we trust? How do we know if someone's telling the truth? All their stories are so richly developed that any of them could be true. And that's where the author's writing really succeeds - she spends a good number of sentences on putting forward each possibility and questions, why not?

What however didn't work for me, is how the male gender is heavily stereotyped in this book. The narrators are all lusting after Nora and, once she disappears, after her sister Sissy. Whether they are 17 or 40, it didn't matter - they were terribly obsessed with sex, its presence/absence or role in a relationship, who's cheating on whom, who's leaving whom - there were times when I felt horribly uncomfortable being in the minds of several boys/men. I thought that was highly unfair. The author seemed to be deriving some kind of message in this - the teen boys happily think of sex, and in their later years (especially after they have kids), they are guilty of having entertained such thoughts - almost as if seeming to suggest that they were bad people for thinking what any normal teen would think. I would be interested in reading the opinions of the male readers of this book - the few I did come across have been pretty disappointed with this book. And that's a pity - because the writing is really wonderful, if only this aspect was tweaked better.

I would still recommend this one, even in spite of that one disappointment, because I believe Hannah Pittard's writing deserves more readers. I remember I felt the same way about The Uncoupling (review yet to come). I wasn't too impressed with the story, but the writing was magnificent. I can't wait to see what Hannah comes up with next.


I borrowed this book from my library.

20 comments:

Melody said...

I enjoyed this book too--the writing was unique and refreshing--but I agree with you about being uncomfortable with how the boys' thoughts played out.  I was left feeling like I didn't know anyone like that...the book really held my attention though, I didn't want to set it down.

Alex said...

This one has been tempting me for a long time (love the cover as well). I actually have (had) the same prejudices against it as you did.

Misha said...

Honestly I wasn't interested in the book before because like you, I thought it was another cliched YA book. I am glad to hear that it turned out to be an enjoyable read. However, the stereotypical depiction of males might bother me too though.

hcmurdoch said...

I haven't even heard of this one, but it sounds pretty good. I like the idea of thinking about the impact of people on our lives. Some come and go without much notice, but some come into our circle briefly, disappear and for some reason they "stay" with us forever

bermudaonion (Kathy) said...

It does sound like a book that would make you think.  I do think about some old classmates that everyone pretty much ignored and often wonder if a kindness from me (that I was too immature to give at the time) could have made a difference.

Meg @ write meg! said...

I've had this one on my shelf for a while and, for whatever reason, have been putting off reading it. But your review has re-energized me -- I'm going to give it a shot soon!

Aimala127 said...

I've been curious about thois book for a little but unsure of it so I really appreciate your review. I'm glad to know that for the most part you enjoyed this book. It sounds interesting and I like a booki that makes me think about the people we've known and realize how some have effected us.
Thank you! 

Lena said...

It was short and good (despite the one aspect of male stereotyping), that's a great combination. Cause it always leaves you wanting more because it seems to end to fast. Maybe the author will get it perfect the time around. Great review.

Erin said...

I have this one waiting for me and have been putting it off. It sounds really interesting, though I'm pretty sure the stereotyping you mentioned will get on my nerves! How intriguing that the narrator is plural. I'm curious!

Athira / Aths said...

That's just what I was thinking too - that I don't know any guy like that. I just felt too uncomfortable.

Athira / Aths said...

I wish that element was done better. It just felt very unfair to see so much obsession with sex.

Athira / Aths said...

That stereotype definitely bothered me a lot. But the writing totally made up for it. I may have given up on the book earlier if not for that compelling way with words that the author has.

Athira / Aths said...

I have been thinking about that impact for a while too. There is a girl I knew in school, who later committed suicide over some issue. It's been close to 10 years, but I still think about her a lot. Mainly because I still don't know why she chose to do that. When I was reading this book, I was thinking of that one unresolved matter in my life.

Athira / Aths said...

I know exactly what you mean Kathy, because I've been thinking of a girl I knew in junior school - who was pretty much ignored by everyone. I did give her some company, but I now feel that was way too less. I still wonder about her sometimes.

Athira / Aths said...

I hope you do! I can't wait to hear what you think of it.

Athira / Aths said...

It's funny that the book made me think of the people who grazed through my life. I don't know if that was the intention of the author, but that element has been implied. Most of the characters in this book stay in touch, yet they forever think about the one that didn't.

Athira / Aths said...

I hope so too! I really can't wait to see what the author has in store next!

Athira / Aths said...

I hope you do check this out. There is the stereotyping, but hopefully the writing will be worth it.

ashbrux said...

I still think I want to read this book. I've heard it compared to The Virgin Suicides which really catches my interest!

Athira / Aths said...

I haven't read The Virgin Suicides, but I would recommend this read still. Except for that one aspect, it was still a good read.