The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard
Ecco • $22.99 • 9780061996054
I received a copy of Hannah Pittard’s debut novel, The Fates Will Find Their Way, as part of Powell’s Indiespensable program. It was a happy day when this book came to my door, because I’d been intrigued ever since our reviewer, Rebecca Shapiro, described the novel as a “morbid ‘choose your own adventure’ story” in our February issue.
The story begins when 16-year-old Nora Lindell goes missing on Halloween, and a group of suburban boys spend their lives speculating on what happened. The narrative jumps from one possibility to the next, and though the plot does not have a traditional beginning, middle and end, Pittard’s writing will nonetheless keep you hooked, and she is skilled at evoking the mood surrounding a tragedy.
The Fates Will Find Their Way is told in a first-person plural voice, a collective viewpoint that I most strongly associate with Joshua Ferris’ Then We Came to the End, although in this case The Virgin Suicides is a more apt comparison. (I will admit that I only saw the movie.) In Ferris’ novel, though, it felt like the “we” in each scene was always connected with a specific character, and in Pittard’s book it’s much more of a hovering voice.
Here’s an excerpt from an early scene:
As our curfew drew nearer, the stories became more lurid, more adult, more sinister, and somehow more believable. Sarah Jeffreys—who’d abandoned the girls that night in favor of our company, perhaps for the protection of boys and would-be men, though perhaps merely to avoid the clingy sadness of the girls, their willowy voices, their insistence that It could have been me!—said she drove Nora Lindell to the abortion clinic in Forest Hollow the day before Halloween, which seemed to lend credence to Trey Stephens’ claim that he’d had sex with her the month before. Sarah had been sworn to secrecy, which is why she said she would never tell Nora’s father. She—Nora—had taken the pregnancy test at school, while Sarah waited one stall over. Sarah said someone had left the window open in the girls’ bathroom in the gymnasium and that Nora had complained that it was too cold to pee. Details like this we found convincing. A detail we didn’t find convincing was that we’d never seen Sarah and Nora together before. We pointed this out. “Anyway,” said Sara. “Three hours after I dropped Nora off, I picked her up. She was standing right where I’d left her. We drove back to town together.”
What are you reading today?