The Lola Quartet
by Emily St. John Mandel
Lately I have been studying some technical books on voice over IP. It is a great cure for insomnia, lemme tell ya. Nothing about it resembles anything “fun”, “imaginative” or even “fictional.” Dry, dry, DRY! I had to come up with something that was as far from boring as I could when I finished. That’s when The Lola Quartet came onto the scene. I was reading through summaries of new fiction on our library’s website, and the plot looked intriguing. It offered a contemporary story, some mystery and a good twist. Most of all it had NOTHING to do with packets, QoS, or routing.
The Lola Quartet is about a group of four friends from high school, who (you guessed it) were in a quartet. At the end of their senior year, the members went their separate ways. The story begins by focusing on the lead member of the quartet, Gavin Sasaki. We find Gavin in New York as his career implodes, his fiance leaves him and he is locked out of his apartment. After his credit cards run out, he travels back to his boyhood home in Florida to work for his sister repossessing houses. Gavin is intrigued by a picture of a girl in one of the repossessed houses. The girl resembled his sister at a young age. Gavin then learns the girl’s last name is that of his high school girlfriend who was rumored to be pregnant before he left high school. Gavin begins an obsessive investigation into the whereabouts of the girl, his old girlfriend, and the story behind why everyone seems so tight-lipped about them both.
Gavin looks up the members of the quartet and begins slowly putting the pieces together. As he does, he begins to see just how oblivious he was during the last days of the quartet and high school. Gavin was so consumed with his own desires and aspirations, he lost touch with reality. The novel switches to the lives of the other members of the quartet, and slowly the big picture begins to reveal itself. The end of the novel gives a surprising yet unsettling twist that ultimately unites the quartet in a new and unique way.
This novel was a great read. The writing was superb, and the imagery clear and concise. Although written largely for entertainment, at times it takes on a cynical serious tone toward modern society. It delves into the realm of mistakes and unrealized dreams. I definitely recommend this book to someone who is looking for a contemporary mystery without the spoonful of sugar.