"Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an inventor, amateur entomologist, Francophile, letter writer, pacifist, natural historian, percussionist, romantic, Great Explorer, jeweller, detective, vegan, and collector of butterflies. When his father is killed in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre, Oskar sets out to solve the mystery of a key he discovers in his father's closet."
"When Margaret's fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression in 1960s London, she faces a choice: carry on with their plans despite what she now knows of his condition, or back away from the suffering it may bring her. She decides to marry him. Imagine Me Gone is the unforgettable story of what unfolds from this act of love and faith."
"The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community."
"In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground."
My father disappeared on a Tuesday that should’ve been like any Tuesday, but eventually became the Tuesday my father disappeared. It was April 18, 2006.
Intriguing, right? You can read the first chapter here.
Tell us where the idea came from.
KP: It's a missing person's mystery about a young girl whose father leaves for work one morning and doesn't come home. It's about her process for coping with loss while holding onto hope; it's also about the way we can find solace in art and literature and the ways we are forever linked to our history. I knew I wanted to write a book about grief and loss eventually -- a book based on my own emotional experience as a teenager who lost a parent while still in the midst of that coming-of-age transition -- but I also knew I wanted to write a novel that would not be limited by my own story. When the book opens, Callie's definition of ordinary has made a seismic shift by the realization that her father has disappeared, and from there the novel grew as I explored themes of family, loss, and hope while trying to solve the mystery.
What made you want to tackle a theme like ambiguous loss?
KP: I wanted to use the emotional texture of my own childhood to fuel the heart of the novel, but I didn't want her journey to be my journey — it had to be fiction. Ambiguous loss is a very particular kind of loss, and that was interesting to me. Choosing that kind of loss gave me permission to share some elements of my own experience, but it also gave me the distance I needed to create a full narrative arc unlike my own. It's amazing how many people have experienced ambiguous loss — a loss where there is no verification of death, no verification that it's final. From soldiers who have gone MIA to those never found after September 11th, natural disaster victims and children who go missing and are never located... It happens all the time, and I wanted to explore the dynamic between holding onto hope while also trying to find a way to move forward.
That's a good way to think about the new year, too. Happy reading.