Anna S. (Auburn, AL)
The Nobodies Album
Who among us would not love to re-write the endings of some of our "stories"? The book's protagonist, Octavia Frost, a best-selling author, is about to do just that when she learns that her rock star son, Milo, has been accused of murder. What follows is an extremely well written mystery, but it is much more than that. Milo's band's name, Pareidolia, gives us a clue that we'll be dealing with the characters' perceptions of events and their attempts to understand them, from the tragedy involving Octavia's husband and young daughter, to the murder of Milo's girlfriend Bettina.
My only complaint about this book, and the reason I gave it a 4 instead of a five (I would have liked to have given it a 4.5) is that I found the ending a bit too pat.
Vicky R. (Cumming, GA)
Worth the money
I usually judge a new book by considering after I've read it if it was worth my money. I would not have been disappointed in spending money here - I enjoyed reading Carolyn Parkhurst's newest novel which more or less centered on a mother/son relationship but included a bit of murder and mystery. The Dogs of Babel is my favorite but this book is worth reading. I was quite taken with the author's thought process on changing the ending to her previously published novels - a rather "novel" idea, I thought. I like this author's style of writing - concise, descriptive without boring you with too much depth and layered with thought-provoking dialogue. While not an extremely "deep" novel that requires intense concentration, it's a great summer read. The book gets a thumbs up from me and I would suggest it to my friends.
Lisa H. (Salisbury, MD)
This was a winning combination of family drama and murder mystery. Octavia Frost is a bestselling novelist, whose career takes off after a family tragedy. With several novels under her belt, Frost thinks she has come up with a revolutionary idea to create an anthology of the last chapters of all her novels, but with different endings. Is it really her novels she wants to rewrite or her own history?
Frost's rock-star son, Milo, has been estranged from his mother; but a murder accusation forces them to confront their issues and reconcile their past. Their relationship is slowly revealed and pieced together out of the pages of Octavia's novels.
Parkhurst alternately mixes Octavia's stories with the present. It was a wonderful way to develop Octavia's character and demonstrate how a person's words and actions are not always a true indication of their feelings and intentions. So often, people wish they had said this or done that, after the fact. I loved how Parkhurst made me question how we reveal ourselves to others and if we could rewrite parts of our past, would it be worth it. Not only was this a well-written and layered family drama; but it was also a great mystery.
Mary Ellen (Canfield, OH)
This is an engrossing novel which this reader couldn't wait to finish and was distraught when she did. It combines a mystery with a family drama, skillfully presented by an inventive author. The murder mystery aspect is secondary to the exploration of family relationships and might have been more fully developed, although there are various other "mysteries" within the novel which are absorbing and memorable. Although this is the first Parkhurst novel I have read, it will not be the last.
Cecilia Z. (Montclair, New Jersey)
So Much More Than a Good Mystery
I am a fan of Carolyn Parkhurst and enjoyed her two previous novels, but found The Nobodies Album exceptional. It really shows her growth as a writer. This novel has so many levels. It deals with relationships, especially between a parent and child. It examines how an individual can survive the most profound tragedy. It addresses the art of writing itself, exploring how much of the author's life becomes the narrative as well as questioning whether the narrative can rewrite life. Most of all, it is about forgiveness and redemption. The story within a story is unusual, but works well, especially in light of the theme of rewritten endings. I found this to be a meaningful and memorable book.
Mary P. (Church Road, VA)
I was quite puzzled to receive my ARC of The Nobodies Album, because I had forgotten I asked for one, then I saw "...author of The Dogs of Babel" on the cover and sat down almost immediately to start reading. Carolyn Parkhurst tells the story of an author and mother, an estranged son, tragedy, and reconciliation beautifully, without becoming emotionally overwrought or cliched. I found the device of the "final chapter revisions" to be a little awkward and disruptive at times, but I understand the purpose of it--who among us doesn't occasionally wish we could rewrite certain chapters of our lives? Overall this story flowed easily towards a surprising conclusion and kept me engrossed from beginning to end.