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Strange and luminous, this fascinating psychological thriller from Heim (In Awe) tackles questions of identity, illness and trauma. Scott, a writer and drug addict, travels back to Kansas from New York City at the request of his ill mother, Donna, who's become obsessed with missing children. Scott soon finds out that Donna believes she was kidnapped in her youth by an elderly couple who eventually returned her unharmed. This experience has led her to an odd alliance with a boy who leaves candy on Donna's front porch. When Donna becomes too ill to continue research for a supposed book on disappeared children, Scott, with help from a friend of Donna's, goes on the road for answers. Taut and beautifully clear, the writing at times recalls that of Paul Auster, but the plot ends in a place less interesting than where it began. The reader may feel that revealing the mundane truth behind Donna's childhood experiences betrays the essential mystery of all the lost boys and girls described in the novel. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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In his psychologically disturbing third novel, Heim again focuses his obsidian vision on the relentlessly bleak Kansas prairie, where for years children have been disappearing with even greater frequency than they do from New York's Grand Central Station. It's a maniacal source of fascination for recently widowed, disease-ravaged Donna, who has created a shrine to the missing children, papering her home and truck with their images, filling scrapbooks with their newspaper clippings. When the corpse of the latest missing teenager is discovered, Donna summons her son Scott home from Manhattan to help her unravel the circumstances of the boy's disappearance. Arriving to find his mother losing her battle with cancer, Scott, a gay crystal-meth addict, soon realizes that the only thing keeping his mother alive is her obsession one, she reveals, that began with her own abduction as a child. As Scott gets drawn deeper into his mother's fixation, the lines between reality and delusion become suspiciously and dangerously obscured.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2008 Booklist
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When his mother's cancer worsens, Scott leaves New York and returns home to Kansas to help her. He is quickly drawn into Donna's obsession with stories about missing children-an obsession that is linked to her own mysterious disappearance for a time when she was a child. Scott's meth addiction makes it hard to judge his mother's mental and physical state, but his longing to comfort and connect with her has him playing along, well past the point of safety. Donna's conflicting stories, Scott's own evasions, and the bizarre complicity of a teenage boy make for a heady, sometimes overheated brew, but Heim writes movingly of physical decline and death. And while the reader may be frustrated with characters who lack all common sense, their behavior fits the story's logic. The overall effect is a combination of mystery, literary fiction, ode to the missing, and love story about family. Heim's first novel, Mysterious Skin, was made into a well-received independent film in 2005. Recommended for larger fiction collections.-Devon Thomas, DevIndexing, Chelsea, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.