Share 8 Books with Disappearing Protagonists

8 Books with Disappearing Protagonists

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Why is it that the things just out of reach are the things we want the most? Here at Off the Shelf, we love a book with a good old fashioned disappearance. Perhaps you’ve heard of a  little book called Gone Girl? Or maybe you saw our reviews last month for Last Night in Montreal and Where’d You Go Bernadette? But we’re not just talking murder mysteries here. Here are 8 more excellent books in which the protagonists just…disappear.


Songs for the Missing
by Stewart O'Nan

Songs for the Missing begins with the suspenseful pace of a thriller, following an Ohio community's efforts to locate a young woman who has gone missing. It deepens into an affecting portrait of a family trying desperately to hold onto itself and the memory of someone whose return becomes increasingly unlikely. Stark and honest, this is an intimate account of what happens behind the headlines of a very American tragedy.

Songs for the Missing
Stewart O'Nan

Songs for the Missing begins with the suspenseful pace of a thriller, following an Ohio community's efforts to locate a young woman who has gone missing. It deepens into an affecting portrait of a family trying desperately to hold onto itself and the memory of someone whose return becomes increasingly unlikely. Stark and honest, this is an intimate account of what happens behind the headlines of a very American tragedy.

MENTIONED IN:

8 Books with Disappearing Protagonists

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 15, 2015

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Where'd You Go, Bernadette
by Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox is a fiercely independent wife and mother, when one day she disappears. It began when her daughter Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her agoraphobic, making a trip to the end of the earth a bit of an issue. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, and secret correspondence.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox is a fiercely independent wife and mother, when one day she disappears. It began when her daughter Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her agoraphobic, making a trip to the end of the earth a bit of an issue. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, and secret correspondence.

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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles
by Haruki Murakami

In one of Murakami's best, a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a psychic prostitute, a politician, a teenage girl, and an aging war veteran.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles
Haruki Murakami

In one of Murakami's best, a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a psychic prostitute, a politician, a teenage girl, and an aging war veteran.

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8 Books with Disappearing Protagonists

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 15, 2015

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I Was Amelia Earhart
by Jane Mendelsohn

In this novel, the infamous American pilot Amelia Earhart tells us what happened after she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared off the coast of New Guinea in 1937. She tells us about her love of flying, her past, her marriage to G.P. Putnam, her relationship with Noonan, and—most importantly—the flight that changed everything.

I Was Amelia Earhart
Jane Mendelsohn

In this novel, the infamous American pilot Amelia Earhart tells us what happened after she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared off the coast of New Guinea in 1937. She tells us about her love of flying, her past, her marriage to G.P. Putnam, her relationship with Noonan, and—most importantly—the flight that changed everything.

MENTIONED IN:

8 Books with Disappearing Protagonists

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 15, 2015

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Dirty Secrets, Dirty War
by David Cox

Dirty Secrets, Dirty War is the story of Robert J. Cox, the editor of the Buenos Aires Herald, who was dedicated to protecting the freedom of the press and to protecting his family. From 1976-1983, he was determined to continue telling the stories of the roughly 30,000 victims of the Dirty War, who went missing during a brutal campaign designed by the government to root out opposition. Those suspected of being dissidents were kidnapped and taken to secret detention centers. Most were tortured and then killed never seen again. This book, written by Cox's son, talks about living under the shadow of terror, and how his father gave a voice to the voiceless, while making himself an enemy of the state.

Dirty Secrets, Dirty War
David Cox

Dirty Secrets, Dirty War is the story of Robert J. Cox, the editor of the Buenos Aires Herald, who was dedicated to protecting the freedom of the press and to protecting his family. From 1976-1983, he was determined to continue telling the stories of the roughly 30,000 victims of the Dirty War, who went missing during a brutal campaign designed by the government to root out opposition. Those suspected of being dissidents were kidnapped and taken to secret detention centers. Most were tortured and then killed never seen again. This book, written by Cox's son, talks about living under the shadow of terror, and how his father gave a voice to the voiceless, while making himself an enemy of the state.

MENTIONED IN:

8 Books with Disappearing Protagonists

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 15, 2015

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Last Night in Montreal
by Emily St. John Mandel

Lilia Albert has been leaving people behind for her entire life. She spends her childhood and adolescence traveling constantly and changing identities. In adulthood, she finds it impossible to stop. Haunted by an inability to remember her early childhood, she moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers along with way, possibly still followed by a private detective who has pursued her for years. Then her latest lover follows her from New York to Montreal, determined to learn her secrets and make sure she’s safe. Last Night in Montreal is a story of love, amnesia, compulsive travel, the depths and the limits of family bonds, and the nature of obsession. In this extraordinary debut, Emily St. John Mandel casts a powerful spell that captures the reader in a gritty, youthful world—charged with an atmosphere of mystery, promise and foreboding—where small revelations continuously change our understanding of the truth and lead to desperate consequences. Mandel’s characters will resonate with you long after the final page is turned.

Last Night in Montreal
Emily St. John Mandel

Lilia Albert has been leaving people behind for her entire life. She spends her childhood and adolescence traveling constantly and changing identities. In adulthood, she finds it impossible to stop. Haunted by an inability to remember her early childhood, she moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers along with way, possibly still followed by a private detective who has pursued her for years. Then her latest lover follows her from New York to Montreal, determined to learn her secrets and make sure she’s safe. Last Night in Montreal is a story of love, amnesia, compulsive travel, the depths and the limits of family bonds, and the nature of obsession. In this extraordinary debut, Emily St. John Mandel casts a powerful spell that captures the reader in a gritty, youthful world—charged with an atmosphere of mystery, promise and foreboding—where small revelations continuously change our understanding of the truth and lead to desperate consequences. Mandel’s characters will resonate with you long after the final page is turned.

MENTIONED IN:

8 Books with Disappearing Protagonists

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 15, 2015

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Gone Girl
by Gillian Flynn
Probably the best-known disappearing protagonist. On Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary, Amy vanishes. Police are called, missing posters are made, and suspicions arise, especially when Amy's diary is found. Under mounting pressure from the authorities and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn

Some say she’s cold and unfeeling, calculating to a subhuman degree, and basically totally nutso. I say Amy Dunne is just a smart, sensitive woman in a man’s world, frustrated by patriarchy, down with to-do lists, and dedicated to the fine art of revenge! This powerhouse of a novel sees crime writer Gillian Flynn come into her own as a dramatic storyteller in full command of her many gifts.

Crazy like: A fox! Amy is a hottie!

Best crazy moment: The box cutter. ’Nuff said.

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8 Books with Disappearing Protagonists

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The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
by Jonas Jonasson

Technically, this protagonist only disappears for everyone else, but it's nonetheless a wonderful read. After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, sure that he's in his final days. The only problem is that he's still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn't interested, so he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey. It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory. Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them, meeting figures like Chairman Mao and Charles De Gaulle. It's a great story that will make anyone feel young again.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
Jonas Jonasson

Technically, this protagonist only disappears for everyone else, but it's nonetheless a wonderful read. After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, sure that he's in his final days. The only problem is that he's still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn't interested, so he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey. It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory. Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them, meeting figures like Chairman Mao and Charles De Gaulle. It's a great story that will make anyone feel young again.

MENTIONED IN:

8 Books with Disappearing Protagonists

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 15, 2015

Close

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