Summary and book reviews of The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard

The Fates Will Find Their Way

A Novel

By Hannah Pittard

The Fates Will Find Their Way
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2011,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2011,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

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, marriages, 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 may someday become.

What each man does will shape his trial and fortune.
For Jupiter is king to all alike; the fates will find their way.

—Virgil, The Aeneid

Some things were certain; they were undeniable, inarguable. Nora Lindell was gone, for one thing. There was no doubt about that. For another, it was Halloween when she went missing, which only served to compound the eeriness, the mysteriousness of her disappearance. Of course, it wasn’t until the first day of November that most of us found out she was gone, because it wasn’t until the day after Halloween that her father realized she hadn’t come home the night before and so started calling our parents. From what we could tell, and from how the phone tree was ordered that year, Jack Boyd’s parents got the first phone call. Mrs. Boyd, as prescribed by the tree, called Mrs. Epstein, who called Mrs. Zblowski, who called Mrs. Jeffreys. By the time the tree had been completed, many mothers had already gotten word ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Why do you think the author chose to have a group of boys narrate the story rather than one boy or an omniscient narrator?
  2. Why won't (or can't) the boys give up their fantasies about Nora Lindell?
  3. At what point do you think that the boys' fantasies about Nora go from plausible to impossible? Were they ever plausible? Are they all possible?
  4. Are Nora and Sissy Lindell truly separate characters? Or do they blur together sometimes? Why?
  5. Do the narrators of the novel ever become adults? Or do they remain, in some way, boys—if so, how? Why?
  6. What is the boys' reaction to the journalist, Gail Cummings?
  7. Why do you think it is Danny Hatchet who ends up with Sissy? What about Danny's ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Pittard so successfully and effortlessly blends these boys' voices into those of grown men that even though we never truly know for certain what happens to Nora, by the last page we do feel that the mystery, the fantasies about Nora Lindell have come full circle.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review Members Only (1157 words).

Media Reviews
Author Blurb Patrick Somerville, author of The Cradle
... [S]imply tremendous—a beautiful ... relentless exploration of a crime. It would be almost too sad to bear the implications of this story if it weren’t for the warmth, hope, and kindness of its haunting prose.

Kirkus Reviews

Gracefully written by the winner of the 2006 Amanda Davis Highwire Fiction Award, this elegiac portrait of an upscale community offers an interesting take on modern manhood.

Library Journal

This debut from McSweeney’s award winner Pittard is smart, eerie, and suspenseful and will appeal to fans of novels combining those elements.

The New York Times - Jennifer Gilmore

Though on the surface this seems to be a novel about a girl's disappearance, at its core it's about how children become adults. ...That shift, from what teenagers can do to one another to what adults can do to children, is crucial. But what this novel is really examining is the moment when such a reckoning occurs.

Booklist

In endlessly revealing their elaborate conjectures, the boys-turned-men inadvertently tell their own story, which is, not surprisingly, the only place where Pittard draws any real conclusions in her quiet, satisfying tale.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A debut novel sure to linger with readers ... Pittard leads the reader into a slew of possibilities spinning out from a 16-year-old girl's disappearance, in her intriguing, beguiling debut.

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Runaways

Nobody knows why Nora Lindell, the main character of Pittard's novel, went missing 30 years ago, but one theory is that she ran away. Below is some information on modern-day runaways:

Runaways vs throwaways
A runaway episode is either when a child leaves home without permission and stays away overnight; or a child who is away from home chooses not to come home when expected and stays away one night if 14 years or younger, or two nights if 15 years or older. A thrownaway child is one who has been told to leave the home, or is prevented from returning home, by a household adult for a night and no adequate care is provided.

How big is the problem?
According to the National Runaway Switchboard, between 1.6 and 2.8 ...

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