Rarely is a debut novel the first thing a writer has written.  Sometimes it’s their fifth novel and the first one the publishers have gone for and sometimes it’s the first novel of  a writer who is already known for their short stories or other work.  Such is the case with the author in today’s Debut Spotlight.

Hannah Pittard’s fiction has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Oxford American, The Mississippi Review, BOMB, Nimrod, and StoryQuarterly , and was included in 2008 Best American Short Stories’ 100 Distinguished Stories. Her new novel THE FATES WILL FIND THEIR WAY hit the shelves last week and is our feature in today’s Debut Spotlight:

Here’s a brief synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Nora Lindell is missing. And the neighborhood boys she’s left behind are caught forever in the heady current of her absence.

As the days and years pile up, the mystery of her disappearance grows kaleidoscopically. A collection of rumors, divergent suspicions, and tantalizing what-ifs, Nora Lindell’s story is a shadowy projection of teenage lust, friendship, reverence, and regret, captured magically in the disembodied plural voice of the boys who still long for her.

Told in haunting, percussive prose, Hannah Pittard’s beautifully crafted novel tracks the emotional progress of the sister Nora left behind, the other families in their leafy suburban enclave, and the individual fates of the boys in her thrall. Far more eager to imagine Nora’s fate than to scrutinize their own, the boys sleepwalk into an adulthood of jobs, marriages, families, homes, and daughters of their own, all the while pining for a girl–and a life–that no longer exists, except in the imagination.

A masterful literary debut that shines a light into the dream-filled space between childhood and all that follows, The Fates Will Find Their Way is a story about the stories we tell ourselves–of who we once were and may someday become.

The reviewers say:

Pittard leads the reader into a slew of possibilities spinning out from a 16-year-old girl’s disappearance, in her intriguing, beguiling debut.  Though the truth remains tantalizingly elusive—the reader is never quite sure what happened—the many possibilities are so captivating, and Pittard’s prose so eloquent, that there’s a far richer experience to be had in the chain of maybes and what-ifs than in nailing down the truth.

— Publishers Weekly

“The Fates Will Find Their Way” is chilling and touching. Pittard can be harrowingly wise about the melancholy process of growing up, of moving from the horny days of high school to the burden of protecting our own children. We realize what’s been lost, what’s been done to us and what we’ve done to each other before we’re mature enough to calculate the true cost. In Pittard’s absorbing treatment, the tragedy of Nora’s disappearance is eventually subsumed into the tragedies we all endure.

— Ron Charles, The Washington Post