In life, there are no do-overs. Forever moving forward, the past is fixed and unyielding; only the future has the potential for change. Unless, of course, you happen to be Octavia Frost, the central character in Carolyn Parkhurst’s latest novel, The Nobodies Album.
Octavia has more than a few regrets, not least of which involve her works of published fiction and the unassailable rift they have driven between herself and her son, Milo. In a daring and unprecedented move, Octavia prepares a work for her publisher inspired by Milo; entitled The Nobodies Album, this is a piece of fiction like no other, consisting solely of final chapters of every book she has ever published, all of them rewritten so as to cast each novel in a new light. Tragically, as she prepares to submit the book, she receives news that Milo has been arrested for the murder of his live-in girlfriend. Desperate, Octavia drops everything to be by his side, praying that her son is innocent and that she can finally be the mother he deserves, the mother she has never managed to be.
The Nobodies Album is a family drama, psychological inquiry and literary mystery, offering something for every reader. As Parkhurst unfurls Octavia and Milo’s story, she scatters Octavia’s original and rewritten chapters throughout the novel, each one providing new insight into the duo’s turbulent dynamic. Those looking for a conventional mystery may feel somewhat underwhelmed by the murder storyline, but, in some ways, the mother-son relationship is a mystery in its own right, as Parkhurst explores the ineffable bond between parent and child. Parkhurst has an uncanny knack for truly inhabiting her characters, laying their inner workings bare, yet here she cleverly uses this introspection to question the extent to which we can ever truly know another human being, even one bound to us through blood.
The Nobodies Album opens with the audacious first line, “There are some stories no one wants to hear,” but when Parkhurst’s stories are the ones in question, nothing could be further from the truth.