29 November 2011

The Lola Quartet; Emily St. John Mandel

The Lola QuartetThe Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ignore the hype - this is more of a novella that explores the relationships between five friends and their past/present selves than it is a mystery or suspense novel.

The Lola Quartet (named after the movie, not the song) is a group of four high school musicians: Jake, Daniel, Gavin and Sasha. They attended a high school for performing arts in Sebastian FL, and Anna was both Sasha's half-sister and Gavin's girlfriend. Shortly before Gavin's graduation, Anna disappears - her homelife is abusive, but there are rumors about a pregnancy or something else. He sees her briefly just after graduation at the Quartet's final performance, and then she disappears.

Ten years later, he's a newspaper reporter in NYC and his life is falling apart; his invented quotes in his articles get him fired, but they're part of his losing control after his girlfriend leaves him and his sister calls to say she's seen a girl who could be Gavin's daughter. Moving back to Florida, he begins to investigate exactly what happened to Anna, recoonecting with Sasha, Daniel and Jame in ways that one mightn't expect.

The questions of culpability, responsibility, honesty and honor are explored, as are the dreams we have when we leave high school filled with possibility and the reality we run into as soon as a few years later. This isn't a particularly philosophical novella, but it does make one think about the what might-have-beens and the relationships we left behind (many of which we never thought about again).

ARC provided by publisher.

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