Book Review: Nobody Is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey

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4/5 Stars.

I’ve never read Eat, Pray, Love (and have no desire to), but I get the feeling this book is sort of the antithesis of it and other feel-good books about women finding themselves.

Without telling anyone, Elyria abruptly leaves her husband and her normal Manhattan life behind, traveling across the world to New Zealand to escape and isolate herself from the monotony and melancholy she has grown to resent, as well as her unresolved grief following her sister’s suicide.

In New Zealand, she engages in a series of reckless behaviors: hitchhiking with strangers, sleeping in abandoned sheds in the middle of nowhere, and ultimately landing herself under psychiatric evaluation.

Consumed by feelings of dread, anxiety and apathy, Elyria self-consciously exposes the darkness that lies deep inside of her, meditating on her own innate wildness. There’s this sense throughout that she wants to want the decent, normal life from which she has estranged herself, but knows ultimately the futility of this. Perhaps the biggest tragedy of all though is seeing her come to terms with the fact that no matter how far she slips away from her old life, she will never escape herself.

Told in first-person stream-of-consciousness prose, Nobody Is Ever Missing is a haunting, surreal portrait of a woman in the midst of a personal crisis. Lacey’s writing is lyrical and poetic; I found myself dog-earring multiple breathtaking passages and lingering on her stunning, powerful writing.

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