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THE NOBODIES ALBUM by Carolyn Parkhurst: Book Review

A mother and son are all that is left of what was once a family of four. The son, the leader of a famous rock band, has been estranged from his novelist mother for more than four years, forbidding her to call or contact him in any way.  Why?

Carolyn Parkhurst’s third novel is not exactly a crime novel, although there is a murder at the center of it. But it is also a novel about accidents, broken families, and the consequences of things that people do without realizing the far-flung effects they will have.

Otavia Frost is a middle-aged writer of novels; none has become a best seller but all have been respectably received.  When the book opens she is bringing her latest work to her editor in New York City.  As she’s passing through Times Square in a taxi, she views the giant video screen there and sees the name of her estranged son on it.  Getting out of the cab, she is horrified to read “Pareidolia singer Milo Frost arrested for the murder of girlfriend Bettina Moffett.”

Although Milo has totally cut off contact with her, Olivia flies out to San Francisco, the city where her son lives, the following day.  She’s not sure exactly why she’s there, as she doesn’t know whether Milo will want to see her, but she feels her place is to be near him.  She’s able to contact Milo’s bandmate and friend, Joe Khan, and he agrees to meet her.  When they meet, Joe tells Olivia that Milo still doesn’t want to see her, but Joe invites her to his home to meet his girlfriend Chloe and her daughter Lia.

When Octavia arrives and sees Lia, she knows at once that Lia is Milo’s daughter, not Joe’s.  Chloe admits this with no hesitation, saying that when she found out she was pregnant she told Milo she would raise the child herself.  Milo agreed, and now Lia believes that Joe is her father and Milo is Uncle Milo.

There are parts of Octavia’s own life that she would like to rewrite; this being impossible, she’s done the next best thing and rewritten the final chapters of her novels and sent them off to her publisher to comprise a new book. Perhaps it is her hope that this act will allow her relationship with her son to be rewritten.  It is only when the reader is more than halfway through the novel that the reason for Milo’s separation from his mother is revealed.  In the meantime, Milo has somewhat unwillingly allowed his mother to re-enter his life, and Octavia is walking on eggs to try to maintain this rapprochement.

The horrific murder of Bettina Moffett has made headlines around the world. Octavia and Milo must cope with the hordes of media pursuing them.  Twitter, Facebook, made-up interviews, all of these must be dealt with in today’s instant-access world.

Carolyn Parkhurst has written a moving novel in which her protagonist must look deep into herself to find out the reasons for her son’s wall of silence. Could their shared past have brought him to the point of murder?

You can read more about Carolyn Parkhurst at her web site.

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