In case you missed it, Hannah Pittard’s The Fates Will Find Their Way marks the debut of a writer to watch. Mostly because it doesn’t read like a debut at all. You won’t find an author bio that could double as the protagonist’s bio, you won’t find a woe-are-my-twenties plot, you won’t find New York City or L.A. (not that we don’t love the Big Apps and the La-La but a large percentage of stardom-seeking writers end up there and they can’t seem to put their characters anywhere else [we know, we know, trying pay exorbitant rent with shitty jobs sucks and your friend / boyfriend / girlfriend / sex partner / old classmate with the rich parents Just Doesn’t Get It]).
Pittard writes with the confidence of an older writer and the huevos of the young writer she is, bringing a sociologist’s understanding of small-town obsession to a story narrated not by one person, but by a group of men. In The Fates Will Find Their Way, a 16-year-old girl disappears and the boys who were her classmates grow into men. That’s about it, a couple of decades of life for men growing up in a small town, united by a common mystery from their youth. It’s slice-of-life, but masterful (The Savages) rather than masturbatory (Tiny Furniture). It’s a ballsy hook hung on a grounded narrative.
Exactly what happened to Nora Lindell? If you’re looking for a big gasp of a reveal then The Fates Will Find Their way is not that book. There are any number of answers – imagined, speculated upon, examined and reexamined. You may like some answers better than others, you may believe some more than others, but you’ll never know know.
In that way it’s as confounding as life. And Pittard pulls it off beautifully.