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Hannah Pittard Writes Novel of Fates, Fantasies, and Youth
elizabeth mott 12 book reviewer
April 28, 2011

The Fates Will Find Their Way, the first novel by Hannah Pittard ’97, combines lyrical prose with a natural, convincing tone to weave a collective tale of suburban youth.

The novel is centered upon the disappearance of teenager Nora Lindell.

Writing from the perspective of a group of neighborhood boys, Pittard impressively tackles an unconventional narrative method. Her writing style is reminiscent of Jeffrey Eugenides’ first-person plural style in The Virgin Suicides.

Yet Pittard is unique in her divulging of the boys’ and others’ stories and in her sharp psychological analysis.

At the end of the two-hundred-plus page novel, Pittard has revealed more than ten lives, all of which feel fully realized.

There’s Trey Stephens, “the only public schooler among [them]”; Sarah Jeffreys, who hangs out with the boys after Nora’s disappearance “to avoid the clingy sadness of the girls, their willowy voices, their insistence that ‘It could have been me!”; Sissy Lindell, Nora’s younger sister, who transforms “in one summer, from a middle schooler, a complete annoyance, to a full-blown nymph, a dewy-mouthed ninth-grader whose mere promenade down a hallway drove varsity captains wild with boyish lust”; and many more vividly depicted characters.

Pittard not only makes one forget that she herself did not go through puberty as a male, but forces us to imagine ourselves sitting in a circle in Trey Stephens’ basement, “with neon beer signs and stolen street signs,” waiting for Danny Hatchet to pull out the weed and hypothesizing as to the cause of Nora’s disappearance, her possible current life and whereabouts, rumors of where she was last seen, and fantasies of her return.

In the end, Pittard’s story is about that which has gone missing, that which eludes the boys—and us.

The desire for what is now unattainable—whether it is a childhood playmate who has died in a car crash, a missing teenage girl, or our adolescence—and the acceptance of the impossibility of these desires is what Pittard so poignantly captures.

The transition from childhood to adulthood, and from fantasies to reality is romantically chronicled. However, it does not come off as depressing or cynical.

And although the narrative does wander, sometimes aimlessly, and lacks a satisfying conclusion, this ambiguity of objective seems in correlation with the elusiveness of Nora Lindell, fantasies, and youth.