Literary Teen – Nobody Is Ever Missing
“[I] looked down into the ocean and saw a stingray flapping in the water, a jagged C torn into his body and ribbons of blood running out, same color as mine, as anything’s, and I knew that stingray had been chewed by something because that is all the ocean is—a big hole full of things chewing each other—and it’s odd that people go to the beach and stare at the waving water and feel relaxed because what they are looking at is just the blue curtain over a wild violence, lives eating lives, the unstoppable chew, and I wondered if any of those vacationing people feel all the blood rushing under the surface, and I wondered if the fleshy, dying underside of the ocean is what they’re really after as they stare—that ferocious pulse under all things placid.”
Themes of identity and loss are explored through surreal images and metaphors, exciting plot twists, and one woman’s gutsy risks in Catherine Lacey’s debut novel, Nobody Is Ever Missing. Elyria, the novel’s narrator and protagonist, can’t untangle herself from intense feelings of loss resulting from her sister’s death. She also can’t rid herself of deep-rooted, violent urges. Struggling with her identity, and with her marriage, Elyria purchases a one-way plane ticket to New Zealand without telling anyone and embarks upon the daunting task of starting over.
In New Zealand, she keeps her impulsive thoughts to herself and communicates with people through her fantastic, dystopian imagination. She invents stories for herself and the people around her, and wonders if she’s amazed by life or simply afraid of it. Along the way, people help her make sense of herself. Lacey offers readers a hypnotic narrative in the sublime setting of New Zealand; her narrator takes action and pursues impulses most of us choose to ignore. This is a novel you won’t want to put down, but from time to time you’ll have to. It’s the only way to consider what’s being offered and take everything in.
About the Author
Catherine Lacey is the author of Nobody Is Ever Missing, a critically acclaimed novel published in 2014 in the United States. It is forthcoming in the UK, New Zealand and Australia from Granta Books and in France by Actes Sud. Her short fiction and essays have been published widely. She was named a Granta New Voice in 2014 and awarded an Artist’s Fellowship from NYFA in 2012.
About the Contributor
Katerina MonBelle is a high school junior at Northwest Academy in Portland, Oregon. She’s interested in biological sciences and is a versatile reader. Favorite book genres include fantastical fiction and creative non-fiction.