Star rating – 8/10
This very original debut novel by Hannah Pittard is ostensibly about events in a small town American community following the disappearance of 16 year old year Nora Lindell one Halloween. But it is more about the subsequent lives of those who were close to her, the effect that her disappearance had on them, the imaginings of her friends about what might have happened to her, and their part in the tragedy. It is very well written and gripping in its psychological dissection of the motivations and guilty consciences of the boys who knew her well.
The effect of Nora’s absence and the imaginings about what could possibly have happened to her, as well as what subsequently becomes of her younger sister Sissy, become an unhealthy fixation for this circle of men as they progress into adulthood as Nora may not. Pittard writes the story along several cul-de-sacs, depending on which wild imaginings they are mentally constructing. This is a novel but very effective way to build up a narrative.
The book becomes something of a confessional as the young men mature and emotionally come to terms with what happened, or what they think probably happened, to Nora, and muses on the role their friends might have played. They are also forced, through their memories, to confront the reality of their own current relationships, marriages or loneliness, and in some cases all these things. It is clever, beautifully crafted, and very creative. The claustrophobia of the tight knit community oozes from its pages. Pittard, who has previously written short stories, has now proved herself as an accomplished novelist, and is definitely one to watch.