Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Sweet Relief of Missing Children

By Sarah Braunstein

From the book jacket:

In New York City, a girl called Leonora vanishes without a trace. Years earlier and miles upstate, Goldie, a wild, negligent mother, searches for a man to help raise her precocious son, Paul, who later discovers that the only way to save his soul is to run away. As the narrative moves back and forth in time, we find deeper interconnections between these stories and growing clues about Leonora – this missing girl whose face looks out from telephone poles and billboards – whom one character will give anything to save.

Just my opinion:

Sad, forlorn, convoluted, disjointed … these are just some of the adjectives that describe the characters in this book. It’s a revealing tale of human misery … of how dysfunctional lives provide children with no hope or pleasure to call their own.

This is a heart-rending novel of young people who find it necessary to run for their lives, to exist elsewhere in a time and place where they expect to escape the reality that is their families. A parallel is drawn between real and self-imposed abduction as children disappear and their parents have no idea what happened to them. Even the authorities wonder if they were kidnapped or if they simply ran away.

For some, it is the horror of the former, of being nabbed by those who find it necessary to imbibe in sadistic pleasures at the expense of the innocent and trusting. The latter category is made up of those who feel they have no other option but to flee the reality of the lives they have been thrust into.

Although at times this is a difficult book to follow, the reader does eventually find connections between the people’s stories within the pages. You feel sympathy for these youngsters and, at times, wonder why no one realized they were in need of help. It’s a fascinating look at the human psyche. Admittedly, it’s not an easy book to read and you do have to pay attention to what the author is saying. Otherwise, you may miss something that will leave the story up in the air later on in the book.

Fascinating, intriguing and eye-opening … this isn’t a book for everyone, but for those who enjoy a deep read, you will find this book marvelous.

Some favorite passages from the book:

A fraud is someone whose whole being, body and soul, is full of lies, all the organs, the skin, not a pore free of them. A liar is a person who tells stories now and then.

What a day! Not sunny but wickedly bright, the sky white as snow and silver at the horizon, the tree’s bare branches suggesting the arms of a rich, emaciated matron, all elbows and knuckles, the bark like cashmere.

Girls aren’t supposed to know they’re pretty. They’re supposed to be oblivious, to believe that beauty is an accident, irrelevant, a trick, but of course no one is oblivious. Girls know where they stand right from the start.

Jesus was a vase and they were the flowers. That’s what Pastor Gold said, and that’s what it felt like, it was the right analogy. Jesus made life seem packed with good people, stem against stem against stem. He made of the crowded world a community; he made of the wilderness a bouquet.

She did not believe in investigating nostalgia, which is merely the costume self-pity wears.


Suko said...

Wonderfully written review as always, LuAnn. The quotes you chose are excellent.

LuAnn said...

Thanks, Suko! So nice of you to stop by.