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Friday, September 10, 2010

The Nobodies Album Proves Our Endings Are Never Carved In Stone

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Bestselling author Octavia Frost is a woman acquainted with loneliness. Her occupation has always demanded solitary work, her son's no longer speaking to her, and the rest of her family lives on only in memories. As Octavia's career begins to sour just as surely as her personal life has, she takes on a new project, rewriting the endings of all her popular novels. It's an aim both ambitious and indulgent, one that symbolizes the ardent wish of her life - to change the past. Whether or not the book will sell remains to be seen.

On the day Octavia lands in New York to deliver the manuscript to her editor, she receives shocking news via the news crawl on a large billboard: her rock star son is being accused of murdering his girlfriend. Even though she hasn't spoken to Milo in several years, Octavia makes a beeline for San Francisco. Milo refuses to talk to his mother, but she gets in touch with his closest friends, all of whom seem to know more about her son than she does. When Octavia receives a cryptic message from one of Milo's cohorts warning that someone is lying, she knows she has to make every effort to save her son. She's no Nancy Drew, but surely there's something she can do. Getting through to Milo means facing truths about him that Octavia isn't sure she wants to know. Could he really be as cold-hearted as the media says he is? Is he capable of murdering the woman he says he loved?

As Octavia tries desperately to revise her relationship with Milo, she must come to terms with her son as he is now and the events from both their pasts which changed him from a carefree child into an angry, bitter man. In order to save her son, she must confront her own failings as a mother, defy the mistakes of her past, and support her child, no matter what kind of monster he may have turned into. Rewriting novels turns out to be nothing - nothing - compared to rewriting her own story.

Although The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst starts out slowly, it quickly builds into a compelling family drama and murder mystery. As Octavia pries into the details of her son's superstar lifestyle, shocking secrets emerge, each of which offers a clue to what really happend on the night Milo's girlfriend died. The mystery builds until The Big Reveal makes everything clear, if a bit cliched. The inclusion of Octavia Frost's revised novel endings is a brilliant touch, bringing a much-needed freshness to the whole book. It's to Parkhurst's credit that I wanted to read not only the Octavia/Milo story, but all the books that Octavia Frost has "written."

While the book's a tad depressing, what I really like is its hopeful theme. Parkhurst makes sure we know that while some of the plot details cannot be rewritten, our endings are rarely carved in stone.

(Readalikes: Mmm, not sure on this one. Suggestions?)

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for language and depiction of drug/alcohol abuse

To the FTC, with love: I bought The Nobodies Album from Amazon using a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative book blogging career. Ha ha.


  1. This one sounds compelling. Thanks for the rating part of your review. I so appreciate knowing ahead of time about language, etc.

  2. Nice review! I really liked Lost and Found, so I'm eager to read this new one by the same author. I hope to get to it soon!

  3. Carolyn Parkhurst read from The Nobodies Album at a bookstore near me, and did a Q&A afterwards. Thought you mind enjoy reading it.


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