This month’s crime and mystery fiction title at my library was The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard. This novel fits within our series title this year which is “I See You Looking At Me” because it is a collective voice that narratives this tale. The idea is that everyone is potentially participating in the narration. There is no “I” in this team and the team is made up of a core group young boys who all attend a private school (except for one token public school friend they allow in the gang). The narration uses “We” exclusively and this only emphasizes the hive mentality of this clique.
The main collective issue is simple: on Halloween, at the age of sixteen, Nora Lindell disappears from their community. Each member in the group has an attachment of some sort to her as she appeared to represent the epitome of the female form for the males to worship. What remains unresolved throughout the entire collective narrative is what Nora’s fate actually was. As the boys grow older, become men, and in some cases marry and have their own children, they continue to have rendezvous around the subject of what happened to Nora. Then men are desperate to talk about Nora always yet knowingly regret their actions at the same time. “A few of us perhaps shooting quick glances towards the stairway and the door at the top, making sure it was closed, making sure we wouldn’t be caught, though we were adults and these were our lives and our decisions and who, really, was left to scold us in any truly meaningful way?” (p. 138)
While their intent in telling this tale to the reader is to involve us in their obsession with Nora, what really is revealed is their inability to grow up. Each member has his foibles and as a part of the joint narration then must be held responsible for what we are told. Their individual dark secrets, sexual behaviors and human limitations are revealed in what ultimate becomes a joint confession to the failure to mature.
My group wanted me to defend this as a crime novel selection. While there is a laundry list of crimes in the book including a possible murder, pedophilia, and rape, the reason why I choose a book like this for a crime and mystery fiction discussion group is to push the boundaries of what the group is comfortable reading and introduce works that fears not to be labeled as literary. This made a great discussion book because it created a self-generated discussion with little effort on my part.
Hannah Pittard is an accomplished short story writer and that skill is evident in the structure of this book. The writing in this book is superb. The amazing use of time within the narrative is captivating as it slowly reveals, pulls back and then reveals again. Thematically this is a strong tale with my favorite statement of theme being this quote from late in the novel:
“What, right now, is taking place that we should be stopping but that we can’t even see?” (p. 221)