The Missing Among Us (Erin Stewart, NewSouth)
The Missing Among Us is instantly enthralling. Erin Stewart profiles a number of missing persons cases, deftly and confidently straddling the line between reportage and personal response. Balancing the interviewees’ stories with her own thoughtful responses, Stewart paints a picture of the research process that feels inclusive of the reader, detailing her interviews with her subjects in a way that feels immediate and intimate. Stewart argues that ‘missing’ can be subjective: if a person leaves by choice, or perhaps stays away longer than expected, they would hardly consider themselves to be missing. This breadth of inclusion is both the making of the book and its only flaw. Stewart covers runaways, refugees, the Stolen Generations and more, alongside the more expected abductions and unsolved murders. This is a lot of ground to cover—which Stewart does well—and the book moves quickly, managing to present and examine a wide range of circumstances in a considerate and hugely interesting manner. However, the broad coverage ultimately lends itself to a meandering feeling, and the book reads as though it’s grasping for a point it does not quite make. This is a harsh quibble though, and The Missing Among Us is ultimately a fulfilling, easy read.
Isobel Moore has worked in bookstores across the globe and is now an arts administrator.