Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: "The Nobodies Album" by Carolyn Parkhurst

Author Octavia Frost is fighting a whole host of personal demons. She's estranged from her rock star son. Her daughter and husband died many years ago in a tragic accident. Since so many of her novels carry an element of personal truth contained within her fictional words, she decides to rewrite the endings of her novels in a supplemental volume titled The Nobodies Album. She'll erase any truth out of the endings and by doing so, may help to erase the pain of her past.

After completing The Nobodies Album she decides to hand-deliver it to her agent in New York. When she arrives there, she finds out some shocking news- her son, Milo, has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Bettina. Shocked and unable to make sense of the tragedy, Octavia flies to San Francisco to try to re-connect with her estranged son. Although she's not welcomed at first, she and Milo slowly form a relationship of sorts, and the events of the past couple of years of Milo's life are slowly revealed.

The Nobodies Album was absolutely riveting. I was sucked in from the very beginning, and wasn't released until the very last page. The way is which this story is told is what made it so compelling. Parts of the story are told from Octavia's point of view, but other parts are excerpts from her fictional novel The Nobodies Album. First we read the original ending of one of Octavia's stories, and then we read the revised ending. Each of these stories were relevant to the story of Octavia and Milo in some way and we, as the reader, are the ones who get to decipher how it is relevant. The mystery- did Milo kill Bettina? If not, who did?- is revealed to us piece by piece, and the characters are not privy to any information that we don't have. It was wonderful to be able to figure out the mystery along with Octavia and Milo, and to not know from the beginning who did it. The ending was not at all what I expected that it would be, but in a good way. For once I couldn't see it coming from miles away.

How much I could relate to the characters in a book often determines how much I will like the book in general. Happily, I loved the characters contained within the pages of The Nobodies Album. Octavia was easy to relate to as a woman who has lost so much, and is afraid to lose more. Although we don't get the opportunity to see inside his head, Milo was extremely likable as a heartbroken and often confused rock star who does not remember much of the night in question. Joe, Milo's childhood friend, was someone that you instantly approved of, and even Bettina, who we only get to know posthumously, seemed like someone with a generally likable personality.

Engrossing and often stunning, The Nobodies Album is one that you'll want to read as you return to the thought-provoking novels synonymous with the fall season.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Fans of thought-provoking fiction and light mysteries
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge 2010, 2010 Support Your Local Library Challenge

1 comment:

  1. Woo -- definitely sounds like a compelling, emotional book! I've heard good things elsewhere, too, but your review is definitely getting me to add this one to my wishlist. I have a novel by Parkhurst in my bookcase -- maybe Lost And Found -- and really need to read it!

    Also, I like what you said about the fall season being synonymous with thought-provoking reads... you're so right! Summer is a time for light, non-taxing reading. With the cooler weather comes a desire to hunker down with more "serious" fare. That's definitely what I'll be doing.