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Elizabeth D. (Maple Grove, MN)
I loved this book. The idea of an author going back and rewriting the final chapters of her books is intriguing and was handled well in this novel. The "final chapter" excepts are like short stories scattered throughout a novel, and I wished more than one of these fictional books actually existed. I was very moved by a number of them. I liked the exploration of the writing process, and the reminder that when an author is making even the smallest of decisions, she or he is foreclosing a multitude of other options (much like life). While that's not a new idea, I thought it was interesting that the fictional author, Olivia, says early on in the book that when a reader is finished with a book, the reader should feel like the conclusion was inevitable, that it couldn't have been wrapped up any other way. I know what she meant, having read a few books where the ending was so wrong. And yet... the options are endless. This is a book I want to read again (uncommon for me), since I believe it's one in which I'll discover something new. There was one piece of recurring symbolism that I'm not sure I understood - I may want to contact Carolyn Parkhurst to see if my interpretation is correct!
Linda S. (Tucker, GA)
I really loved The Nobodies Album. A murder mystery provides the plot framework for the novel, but it is the element that tells the story of a dysfunctional family that is most compelling. The author is very adept at the emotions and nuances that resonate in relationships. Indeed, some of the characters’ reactions to a plot twist were so real that you identify with them and thus, think about the book for some time after you’ve read the last page. I also found the technique, seemingly a version of the epistolary novel but using the endings of short stories rather than letters to tell a larger story, that the Parkhurst uses to examine the question of “What-if we could rewrite the past?” to be very effective. A really good read that I definitely recommend to those interested in family/emotional stories.
Karen B. (Pittsburgh, PA)
Outstanding Literary Mystery
Carolyn Parkhurst has once again succeeded in surprising her readers. In the "Nobodies Album", Octavia Frost, an enigmatic author whose latest work focuses on rewriting the endings of her previous novels, manages to rewrite her relationship with her estranged son while helping him cope with both a current and past tragedy. Once begun, the reader feels compelled to continue; what happened to Octavia's husband and daughter, what caused Octavia's and Milo's estrangement, who murdered Bettina? The "excerpt" chapters from Octavia's new manuscript help to increase the reader's curiosity and provide for the novel's excellent pacing. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and will wholeheartedly recommend it. Now that I've finished "The Nobodies Album" I'd love to be able to move onto every one of Octavia Frost's novels! Alas, they don't exist; just like the songs on Milo's Nobodies Album.
Jan M. (Jenks, OK)
Interesting concept but difficult read
Carolyn Parkhurst had a wonderful story to tell, but in my opinion an awkward approach to it's telling. I loved the analogy between life's consequences and book endings, However, the randomly placed variations of other books into the central story about Milo were distracting. I felt she could have fleshed out Milo's life and the loss of her husband and child rather than muddy up the story with other novel endings. That said, she did write a great story that captivated this reader to the end. I found myself hurrying through the alternate endings to get back to Milo's story so I could find out "who done it"!.
Phyllis R. (EAST NEW MARKET, MD)
Mother and Son Reunion
Octavia Frost turns in her latest novel, in which she rewrites endings of earlier novels, on the day that she learns her son Milo has been arrested for murder. How she examines their relationship and her possible responsibility for his situation comprises THE NOBODIES ALBUM. There are many mysteries to be solved, not least of which is Milo's guilt or innocence. Alternating between the rewritten endings and the current situation, this well-written novel held this reader's interest throughout. What really happened to her husband and daughter? Is Milo guilty? Will Octavia write a new ending to her life? We come to care about the characters Parkhurst has created and hope for a happier future for them.
Lori L. (La Porte, IN)
Rewriting our Endings
In her latest novel, Carolyn Parkhurst, author of "The Dogs of Babel" explores the all-too-human wish to go back and re-imagine the endings to our life stories . The narrator, an author, has re-written the final scenes of several of her published works, approaching them from her own different perspective in time. She also seeks to mend her estranged relationship with her son as he faces a major crisis. While the ending of the story ties up the resolution to his crisis in an implausibly tidy manner, the novel's theme of rewriting one's history and thereby one's future will resonate.
Mary S. (Hilton Head Island, SC)
Carolyn Parkhurst tries to do what the main character in this novel tries to do -- introduce a new way of composing literature to the world. While at times she succeeds, most of the time her "new endings" interrupt what is a very good story. I found myself wanting to learn more about Milo and Octavia without the constant interruptions of the "new book endings". Nonetheless, it was an entertaining read.
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.