The Fates Will Find Their Way, by Hannah Pittard

Reviewed by Kari Tanaka

Hannah Pittard’s foray into novel-length fiction is nothing short of amazing! The Fate’s Will Find Their Way is a beautifully written coming of age story, revolving around the mysterious disappearance of sixteen-year-old Nora Lindell from her “safe” suburban neighbourhood.

This event becomes the pivotal reference point around which a group of teenage boys begin to frame their lives and, ultimately, the adult memories of their youth. They become obsessed with creating stories to explain what happened to Nora, stories that begin as purely imaginative, but become more blurred with reality as the story progresses, weaving and distorting fact and fiction. As time passes, Nora, herself, becomes a metaphor for everything that might have been for these boys-become-men who have settled into the predictable, mundane, suburban lifestyles of their parents. Pittard’s masterful use of the first-person plural voice immediately pulled me into the story. I felt like a guilty voyeur baring witness to the ugly truths of teenage boyhood. The voice is a collective of the group of boys/men, an unnamed “we”, that spews forth a collection of memories, not necessarily in chronological order, and not necessarily true.

The lack of chronology makes for an interesting portrayal of events, sometimes told from the inexperienced voice of a boy and, at other times, told from the more experienced voice of a man. In this way, we are able to look at such serious events as suicide, alcoholism, and pedophilia, from different perspectives. Pittard is also successful in adding a third element to the voice; that of a man-reverting-back-to-a-teenage-mentality-when-he-reunites-with-a- high-school-buddy. (Sorry guys, I hate to generalize, but many of you actually do this.) This perspective adds a comedic element to the novel, but also emphasizes how stunted the characters have become by their obsession with Nora’s disappearance.

The main elements of Pittard’s story are familiar and comfortable. Her characters are well-drawn with believable dialogue, her setting will sound like home to many of us, and the theme is haunting, but not strange. However, she adds just enough of the avante garde to her story that leaves the reader feeling like they have experienced something truly special. And that’s the thing with this book, you don’t just read it, you experience it, in a very unexpected way. And that, my friends, is about all I can say without creating a list of spoilers. So, pick up a copy of this book and find out for yourself, what became of Nora Lindell.