As with my last post, The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst is another book discussion book with a potentially frustrating, and possible unreliable, narrator. In this case it is novelist Octavia Frost who is walking through Times Square one day on the way to deliver her new book to her agent when she sees on the news teleprompter that her rock star son has murdered his girlfriend. Octavia has been out of touch with Milo for four years after he read one of her books that he believes gets too close to the truth about the death of his father and sister.
While this book should not be mistaken for a mystery, or even a thriller, Octavia does get on a plane and fly to San Francisco to reunite with her son and begin to mount a defense to the accusation of murder. However, readers will find that the book explores Octavia and Milo’s grief over the long ago deaths of Mitch and Rosemary as it does the current murder of Battina.
What makes this book really compelling is that Octavia’s current book project, which got halted in Times Square, is an attempt to re-write all the endings of her previous novels. Through the story of Octavia and Milo, readers are able to read both the original ending and a reconstruction for each of Octavia’s previous efforts.
Does this relate to the plot of the book? You can bet it does. However, it also relates to the theme in a big way. If readers have enjoyed the inclusion of alternative stories within the main novel as featured in such works as The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood or The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, then they will really like this book.
Here are a few quick quotes from the book that will lead to some great discussion questions:
“I’ve often wondered if writers are the only ones who feel compelled to narrate their lives as they live them.”
“Pareidolia describes the human tendency to find meaning where there is none.”
“Someone is lying.”
“They were exactly the wrong two to die.”