Read The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver Online


An unforgettable and unpredictable debut novel of guilt, punishment, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive       Noa P. Singleton never spoke a word in her own defense throughout a brief trial that ended with a jury finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Ten years later, having accepted her fate, she sits on death row in a maximum-security penitentiary, just sixAn unforgettable and unpredictable debut novel of guilt, punishment, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive       Noa P. Singleton never spoke a word in her own defense throughout a brief trial that ended with a jury finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Ten years later, having accepted her fate, she sits on death row in a maximum-security penitentiary, just six months away from her execution date. Seemingly out of the blue, she is visited by Marlene Dixon, a high-powered Philadelphia attorney who is also the mother of the woman Noa was imprisoned for killing. Marlene tells Noa that she has changed her mind about the death penalty and Noa’s sentence, and will do everything in her considerable power to convince the governor to commute the sentence to life in prison, in return for the one thing Noa is unwilling to trade: her story.      Marlene desperately wants Noa to reveal the events that led to her daughter’s death – events that Noa has never shared with a soul. With death looming, Marlene believes that Noa may finally give her the answers she needs, though Noa is far from convinced that Marlene deserves the salvation she alone can deliver. Inextricably linked by murder but with very different goals, Noa and Marlene wrestle with the sentences life itself can impose while they confront the best and worst of what makes us human in this haunting tale of love, anguish, and deception....

Title : The Execution of Noa P. Singleton
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ISBN : 9780804120838
Format Type : Audio CD
Number of Pages : 10 Pages
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The Execution of Noa P. Singleton Reviews

  • Jill
    2019-05-03 06:39

    This story by a narrator who may or may not be reliable is set in a prison, and more specifically, on death row. Noa Singleton, 35, is awaiting her day of execution after ten years of fruitless appeals, and now, six months before “X-Day,” she is approached by yet another lawyer who wants to make one last try for clemency on her behalf.Noa provides her history, and as she does, we gradually get an idea of why she is on death row and what really happened to put her there. We also learn about the circumstances of her life, and how this particular lawyer came to advocate on her behalf.As the chronicle moves inexorably forward toward “X-Day”, we don’t know until the end of the book whether this latest attempt to save her life will work or not.Discussion: Half the time, I had no idea what this author was talking about. Her prose is perplexing, affected, and overwrought. It seemed as if she was getting paid by the metaphor, relevance be damned. Here are some examples of what I considered to be overly elaborate, overly confusing, or just over-the-top:I can see the five silver bars three feet beyond my arm’s reach. They shift into double vision as ten lines of coil, prison garments, a staff of music.”[Prison garments? Do they have five parts or something?]Or this nighttime scene:Confused spears of darkness spiked through the metal bars…”[Confused spears of darkness? I’m confused too!][About her newest lawyer] "…his voice [was] docile as a prostrated ocean, as if he had slipped from his mother’s womb begging for a nonprofit position and studio apartment to match.”[What exactly does that mean? “Prostrated ocean”? And what does that have to do with the rest of it?][About the mother of the murder victim who wants to understand the crime] “She’s stuck there in that ‘why’ scratch on her record repeating ad infinitum until I pluck the disc from its player, clean off the scratch with a simple puff of my lips, and hand it back to her to hear the music properly. She hasn’t a clue that records have been replaced with newer technology.”[Okay, I was following until the last sentence. Maybe my brain needs to be replaced with newer technology…]It was an anomalous Tuesday night in 2002 when the phone calls started. For over a week…my apartment became a torrent of moral decay. … Whirls of tornadic subjugation seeped through the little holes of the telephone receiver…”[If this took place in Oklahoma perhaps I could understand the “tornadic subjugation” bit, but since it is Philadelphia, it sounds a bit too "anomalous" to me, one might say.]Or this, which I think has to do with the guy speaking to her, but truly, I’m not sure:Nothing else came out, despite his necessitous expectations.”[Necessitous means “needy, poor, indigent.” Okay, if he is needy, or has needy “expectations,” what would that have to do with his saying more (or not), rather than say, her saying something.]Why can’t she just speak clearly instead of trying to talk pretty someday, which brings us to….The “metaphorgeous” phrases:I think the thing I actually miss the most is watching a sun sit still on a solid evening hour, its talons skewering the clouds beneath.”[Sun sitting still? Talons? What?]And this, describing her trial (I think):I watched from the defendant’s table during every clumsy excuse. Melodious sacraments to my dissonant entr’acte, perpetuating a system that works more often than it does not.”OMG, I almost couldn’t take it! But, perversely, I did want to know what really happened, which of course we don’t find out until the last moment, so I did not abandon the book, although thinking of the ending brings us to…..Was it worth it? Well, let me just say, it’s all about Bad Mothers! Or maybe, the injustice of justice. Or something about the death penalty – good? Bad? I don’t know! I’m not really sure. There was too much purple covering up the prose….Evaluation: This might appeal to book clubs, since one could debate about how it ends. If one gets that far…. [Oh but, for the food book tie-in theme, you could serve “death row food”; i.e., everyone gets to have their wildest fantasy food!]Note: This book has gotten a lot of praise from other sources.Rating: 1.5/5

  • Ali
    2019-05-02 10:34

    The problem with this book is that it has a really, really interesting premise, but the writing, plot, and character development are truly awful. I was fairly on board with the book until about 3/4 of the way in. From then on, I was legitimately confused by everything that was going on. So Marlene was just a super Crazy Mom? With an equally Crazy Daughter? They both had crazy eyes at some point. I just didn't understand any of the characters' motivation. Marlene offered Noa 10K to "break up" the relationship? Was Noa being followed by ne'er do wells? Why? Why would her father get in touch with her knowing that was a possibility? The whole story was very bizarre.Spoiler alert: Noa dies, and honestly, I don't really feel sorry about that. I really thought she was covering up for someone, but in the end, she did shoot a girl in the head. For the second time. And again with the intruder story. I get it. It's a theme throughout the book, a way to connect the pieces of her tragic childhood. But ultimately, it was just silly and unnecessary. I didn't like Noa. I didn't like Marlene. I didn't like Sarah or Caleb. I didn't really like anyone. I sort of liked Ollie, until he played into Marlene's game. The main problem with this book is that it was handled by an author who tried too hard and an editor who didn't do their job correctly. The author's over the top vocabulary and metaphors scream "look at me, I'm sooper literary and smart!", and really just highlighted her immaturity as an author. The editor could have helped her tone it down and tweak some of the more confusing plot points, but that didn't happen. Too bad, because the book had potential at the start. Overall, very disappointing book. Not even a fun summer read.

  • Jeanette
    2019-05-15 05:45

    Rating = 3.5 starsNO SPOILERS, and therefore a somewhat vague review.I think this is going to be quite popular when it comes out this summer. It was compelling enough that I read it in three days. Noa is a convincing narrator with an unusual life story to tell. Her voice is gritty and sarcastic and resigned, just as you'd expect from someone incarcerated for ten years and awaiting execution for capital murder. Although I'm not sure I liked Noa herself, I did like her narration. Noa killed Sarah Dixon ten years ago, and all of her appeals have been used up. Now she's just counting down the months until the state of Pennsylvania takes her life. Her only visitors are Oliver Stansted and Marlene Dixon, Sarah's mother. Marlene claims that all she wants from Noa is to know why she killed Sarah, but Marlene's a slimy operator, and her true motivations are never made clear. It seems she wants to revel in Noa's suffering. Oliver is a young, idealistic lawyer from England who sincerely wants to save Noa's life. It is for Oliver that Noa begins her narrative, alternating her life history with the events taking place in the present. My favorite rating is 3.5 stars, which means I always have to agonize over rounding up or rounding down. My primary reason for rounding down is that there was a feeling of incompleteness when I finished the book. There's too much we don't get to find out about the characters, so their motivations and behaviors don't quite make sense. The only person we really get to know is Noa P. Singleton, and even her behaviors don't always seem to fit what we know about her. I appreciate the brevity of the novel, but I think it might have benefited from a bit more depth. I do realize that's tough to pull off without an omniscient narrator.ONE GLARING ERROR I HOPE WILL BE CORRECTED IN THE FINAL VERSION: Noa tells of a medical emergency she had in her college library. She says it took place in the "N" section, then goes on to list all the subjects beginning with N -- Nefertiti, Napoleon, North Korea, etc. Psssssst...Nonfiction books are not shelved alphabetically.

  • Patrice Hoffman
    2019-05-07 09:41

    The Execution of Noa P. Singleton is the brilliantly written debut novel by Elizabeth L. Silver. Once I began this book, I didn't close it until the last page. The voice of Noa narrates the story as she talks about her past and what led her to death row. Noa is at times not an enjoyable character for obvious reasons. She killed someone. Much of the story readers are kept in the dark about what really transpired the night 10 years prior to her conviction. The novel begins with a welsh lawyer named Oliver Stansted letting Noa know that the victim's mother is no longer wanting her to be executed so she's going to try all that she can to grant her clemency or a new trial. This surprises Noa because she can still vividly remember the words that the death penalty is the single most profound punishment to grace the judicial system among other choice words. Ultimately, Noa is dictating her life to Oliver and keeping her secrets in the process.Initially Noa seems cold, abrasive, and unnecessarily sarcastic but as the book goes on, I appreciated her intelligence, humor, and acceptance. This novel is full of characters that readers will either love or hate. I'm not sure if I liked any of them but I still cared enough about Noa and Marlene (the victim's mother) to hope they came to some sort of resolution. Themes such as resolution, innocence, guilt, and truth reign supreme in this novel. I really appreciated Elizabeth L. Silver providing readers with a complex novel that didn't go one way or another on the side of executions and wether it's right or wrong. There are facts stated but nothing in your face about opposing the death penalty or not. It's a hot topic that will forever be debated until... forever. Thankfully we don't have to have that argument here and in it's place is actually a really great novel. In conclusion, I highly recommend The Execution of Noa P. Singleton to everyone. It's a fast read that's immediately engrossing with very rich characters. The mystery will keep readers guessing until the end. Silver has made a fan out of me.

  • Trishnyc
    2019-05-10 08:41

    Hmm...I am not entirely sure what I feel about this book. On one hand, I acknowledge how well written it is, what a brilliant page turner it is that it made me finish it in one day but on the other hand, I am left going, "But what was it all for?"Noa P. Singleton is on death row for killing Sarah Dixon. By the time we meet her, she is six months from X day, the day of execution by lethal injection. Early on, we learn that she did precious little to defend herself at her trial and has done even less to help her lawyers with her appeals. So she is set to die. The state has decreed it and she has accepted it. But out of nowhere comes Oliver Stansted, who is representing a organization known as MAD, Mothers Against Death. And who is the founder of this organization? Marlene Dixon, the mother of the dead girl. It seems despite testifying against Noa at her sentencing hearing, Marlene has had a change of heart and now wants Noa to live. She now believes that the death penalty is not the fair and right way to punish crimes.The most fascinating thing about this book is Noa. She is sarcastic, funny and prison has certainly made her very introspective. Not once during the whole book does she dispute killing Sarah. Even when others beg and plead with her to tell more, deny any involvement, she refuses and seems to accept her fate. Why did she do it? Did she do it?Also fascinating was Marlene Dixon, a woman of steadfast rigidity. Of one thing she is sure and that is she, Marlene, is always right.It is hard to say what it is about this book that left me dissatisfied. As I stated earlier, it is definitely well written and the author's skill with words is not to be challenged. But towards the end of the book and by the final resolution, I was left wondering what the whole point was. (MILD SPOILER AHEAD) I have no problem with evil triumphing but I like for there to have been a point, a logical lead up to the conclusion. I did not find that here. Unfortunately, I can't go into too much depth without giving away key parts of the book.Why did I give this book a four star rating despite my dissatisfaction? Because it is so well written, well crafted and well paced. That the end did not bring me the denouement that I wanted or would have expected cannot take away from my enjoyment of the road there.**Review copy received from's Vine Program.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-04-21 06:54

    I don't know if I can legitmately say that I read it, because I bailed halfway through and my reasons for doing so were strong enough to send me to Amazon to post my first ever book review on that site. Here's what I said:I wish I had at least read the first page of the book before I bought it, it would have saved me time and money. I would have known in that first page that the writing was nothing short of awful. Since I had already bought it, I got about halfway through the book before flipping to the back to quickly find out what the deal was and be done with it. I was actually feeling irritated with the editors. The language was so distracting and jarring, it was like riding in a car with a driver who has just learned to drive a stickshift earlier that day. I'm disappointed because the premise sounded very good and I was looking forward to it. Big letdown. Do not waste your time or money. If you think I'm exaggerating, go to Amazon and read the first couple of pages. Tell me if you think I'm wrong!

  • Christa
    2019-05-16 08:44

    This book was a hard one to get through. It seemed like a really good premise--woman on Death Row finally tells the real story of her crime--but something just didn't work. First of all, the character, Noa, was clearly a sociopath, which was necessary in keeping in line with the story. But, she also seemed very, very flat, and as a result, it was difficult to care about anything she said. This isn't the redeeming of a woman who knows she did wrong, or even the story of someone wrongfully accused. It's the methodical recollection of a manipulative woman who cares about no one, even herself. For a thriller, the book wasn't really thrilling. The events that unfolded seemed very random, and it never built up enough suspense to keep you glued to the pages. Everyone seemed very...icky in this book, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, given the subject matter. It's just that the characters didn't seem whole enough to be able to pull off being completely unlikeable. If a character is going to be awful, and least make them a rich, carefully developed awful.

  • Blair
    2019-04-23 05:47

    Noa P. Singleton is an inmate on death row, where she has been awaiting her execution for ten years since being convicted of murder. But six months before 'X-day', she is visited by Marlene Dixon, the mother of her victim Sarah. Marlene claims to have formed an organisation which opposes the death penalty, and believes Noa should continue to be incarcerated rather than face execution. However, to have a chance of clemency, Noa has to recount every detail of her crime - a story she has always refused to tell, even at her trial.I wouldn't say I thought this was a bad book, but in the greater scheme of books of this type - mystery/crime, quick and easy but not necessarily light reads, stories told partly in flashback - it didn't stand out and I didn't find it at all memorable. I almost gave it a rating of two stars, but I normally reserve that for books I finished but, overall, didn't like: I don't think I felt strongly enough about this to state that I actually disliked it, but it had quite a few problems. The story is told by Noa, who narrates the book in a wry voice: there's a lot of humour, some of which (for me) didn't quite fit with the character or circumstances. Partly because of this, I wasn't keen on Noa and wasn't that bothered about whether or not she escaped her fate, but I certainly wasn't on anyone else's side, and not only did I dislike the characters, I didn't understand or believe in the motivations for anything they did. There were times when I found this such a confusing story - not because it was particularly convoluted, not because it was awfully written, but because I couldn't figure out why everyone was making such weird and terrible decisions. This was especially true with regards to (view spoiler)[Marlene: I found it difficult to believe that she would have approached and bribed Noa in the first place, or that she would have ever had a 'change of heart' no matter what her underlying motive might have been (hide spoiler)].As always with NetGalley books, I should point out that I read an advance copy, so mistakes I spotted might have been corrected by the time it's actually published. However, I can't ignore the fact that there were numerous points at which it really seemed the narrative wasn't making sense - paragraphs I had to go back and read a number of times to figure out what they meant, and apparently misplaced words, eg the word 'palatable' being used where it didn't seem to fit, but 'palpable' would have.I know this review sounds really negative, and I didn't mean to be quite so critical. This is a well-told story which held my interest, as well as providing a few twists and surprises: when the final reveal came, it wasn't what I expected, and I don't think I could have guessed it. However, looking back on the book I'm finding it easier to remember what was bad about it than what was good. It's readable but I can't recommend it as any more than a throwaway read - and I kind of feel a story about a woman's execution should be more memorable than that.

  • Zach
    2019-04-22 05:41

    My wife always says I love boring books. Boring books are books where "nothing happens," but the author spends a lot of time and effort in the craft of making nothing happen. Or they can be called works of "literary fiction."I always make fun of my wife for reading terrible books. Terrible books are books where "everything gets tied together in the end," but the author spends very little time and effort in the craft of creating beautiful sentences. Or they can be called works of "mystery" and/or "thrillers."This book is both boring and terrible. It gets two stars for being slightly boring and only partially terrible.The total cheat of having two first person narrators, first of all. The "letters" from the mother of the victim to her daughter (the victim, duh) coupled with the omniscient (ugh, and "unreliable") first person narrative makes for a narrative where the reader is given everything he or she needs.And don't get me started on the "twist" in the plot. I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING. Yeah, well, that's because it's just ridiculously stitched into the fabric of the narratives. Veiled references to such a traumatic event in a first-person narration? Sheesh.I respect the hell out of the authors blurbing this book. I have to wonder how they saw what they say they saw.

  • Wendy
    2019-05-15 11:54

    I sat on a jury once. It was a murder trial in which a man was accused of murdering his live-in girlfriend. Both had been drinking extensively and engaged in a domestic dispute. He killed his girlfriend, beating her with his hands and feet and a hand held vacuum cleaner. I found the entire criminal court process . . . interesting. I had worked in a courtroom for years, but only in the juvenile dependency court. So, the criminal case was a new experience for me. The information that could be entered into evidence, the way the attorneys made their arguments, the instructions to the jury . . . I came away from that experience feeling a bit disillusioned and not too confident in the entire jury trial process. At least not in the case I heard. It's hard to be when no one cares about the juror sleeping off a hangover during testimony or the jury foreman who asked his fellow jurors to keep in mind the defendant's age when condemning him to prison time despite having just been instructed by the judge not to take that into consideration because it wasn't relevant to whether he had in fact committed first degree murder.And so Noa P. Singleton's story was not surprising. I have worked with a variety of attorneys over the years--some inexperienced, others burnt out or apathetic. They were mixed in with the good ones. One of my favorite juvenile court attorneys was a court appointed one, not a private attorney brought in from the outside. So the stereotype of court appointed attorneys not being the best advocates for their clients isn't always true. That's neither here nor there. In terms of the book, however, what most stood out for me was Noa's experience with the court process and how, unfortunately, realistic it was portrayed. It's clear from the novel that the author is well versed in criminal law and the ins and outs of the courtroom, particularly in criminal cases involving someone without much money.I was caught up in Noa's tale right from the start. The novel is told from her perspective, in first person with the occasional pause for letters written by Marlene Dixon to her daughter, the murder victim. The two narratives offer a glimpse into both Noa's mind and Marlene's. Their stories are intertwined right from the start. Their relationship is an interesting one, one that creates more suspicion at first rather than understanding.The author has a gift for only offering a piece of the mystery of how and why Sarah was killed here and there, keeping the suspense building and the reader wanting to know more. Neither Noa or Marlene are particularly likeable characters. Neither are very reliable as narratives--or are they? It's a question that I kept asking myself as I continued to read.I never really connected with Noa. Being isolated on death row had given her a lot of time to reflect on her life and the direction it had taken. We learn about her childhood and her relationship with her parents, particularly her absent father who suddenly reappears in her life. She hadn't had an easy life, and I could see how her behavior and attitudes led her to make the decisions she did. Still, I never quite got a handle on her. She seemed disconnected from her own life and the people in it. Was this a reflection of her current situation and isolation or was it really a part of who she was? Marlene brought in her own complications. She said she had a change of heart about the death penalty, but Noa suspected an ulterior motive from the start--and as the reader, I did too. It was in the way Marlene presented herself and the words that came out of her mouth. I just didn't trust her. Truth be told, I trusted Noa more.I admit going into the novel I expected a rather fast read, but I didn't find it to be so. Elizabeth L. Silver is a descriptive writer. Whether that was a part of Noa's character or just Silver's style, I am not sure. Add to that the fact that the reader spends so much time in Noa's head, philosophizing and analyzing things, it slowed the pacing of the book down. At times I didn't mind at all as I found it interesting, but other times I wished I could hurry the book along. I really wanted to get to the truth. What happened to Sarah? Why was she killed? What was Noa's role? And what about the motive? All of this remains a mystery until the end of the book. And, although by then the truth comes less as a surprise, there are still some surprises to be had.When I finished reading The Execution of Noa P. Singleton, I wasn't immediately sure what I thought of the book. On the one hand, I did enjoy it. On the other, I felt a bit unsatisfied. Ultimately though, I am glad I read the novel and feel that, as a whole, it was a worthwhile book, one that is particularly thought provoking. Review book provided by publisher.

  • Rheama
    2019-04-22 04:35

    Now this. This little gem is worth reading.Noa P. Singleton has been incarcerated for ten years for killing a pregnant university student. She was found guilty at trial and never spoke a word in her own defense. Noa’s execution date looms only six months in the future when an unexpected opportunity presents itself. The victim’s mother, Marlene, has remarkably changed her position on the death penalty. In principle, she now believes even the convicted killer of her own child deserves to live. Marlene’s opinion only matters because she happens to be a powerful attorney. She assigns an eager young lawyer in her firm to work on Noa’s clemency appeal, pro bono.What follows is a fascinating exploration of the meandering route that led Noa to death row, the nature of guilt and innocence, and the capriciousness of our legal system. Thankfully, the book never steers us toward the political left or right. We’re simply shown: one life, one moment, one trial, one verdict, one probable execution. And we’re left to decide if justice was served.As readers, we alternately scoff at the ineffectiveness of the system and then find ourselves imitating it. We struggle to label, define, and categorize a person who is perhaps too complex to be placed in a box. (Literally.) The law is an extension of our need to make sense of the senseless. Flaws and all ... what else can we do?The narrative is a bit too wordy. At times, the author’s analogies are hard to follow. Even so. Five enthusiastic stars. At heart, this novel is unique, clever, poignant, and captivating. It's a demonstration of how the fate of one is the sum of the invisible successes or failures of many.This story is utterly human, completely inevitable, and impossible to put down. Loved it. Highly recommend.

  • Susan
    2019-04-29 11:38

    Noa P. Singleton is thirty five and she has spent the last ten years of her life on death row, awaiting execution for the murder of Sarah Dixon. Although she has done little to help her own cause (she herself says she is guilty and "never contested that once...") there have been many failed appeals on her behalf. Virtually the only visitors she has ever had are lawyers hoping to get her to agree to get her hopes up yet again. Now, six months before her execution date, comes young lawyer Oliver Standsted, who wants to "help people" and whose social conscience has prompted him to work for the newly formed organisation, "Mothers Against Death". He wants to file a clemency petition on Noa's behalf, but it soon appears that things are not as simple as they seem - because "Mothers Against Death" has been started by Marlene Dixon, the mother of the victim Noa is accused of killing....Many reviewers have pointed out that, to them, Noa's voice sounds false - she is, it has to be admitted, extremely able to tell her story in an intelligent and reasoned way. Yet, the author makes sure she tells her readers how academically able Noa was, despite her background. I suppose that you either have to feel that Noa rings true as a character for you, or you don't, and, if not, I do understand that argument. Personally, though, I liked Noa as a character and I found myself immersed in the story. We read of Noa's unfolding life, largely through her journals, which she intends to leave to Oliver. There are also letters from Marlene Dixon herself, to her daughter Sarah, which reveal some of her motivations.On the book cover, this novel is compared to "We Need to Talk About Kevin" and I think that does this book an injustice. For me, it did not have that extremely thought provoking "what if?" quality that Kevin had (a book I loved), but was, nevertheless, a real page turner. In many ways, it is an old fashioned whodunnit - or rather, you wonder what Noa was really guilty of, whether anyone else was involved, what Marlene Dixon's real agenda is, and would Noa be executed? That is not to say that this novel did not open up questions - it would undoubtedly make a great book club read - but it was less about issues than about the storyline and characters. Personally, I enjoyed it hugely and finished it within a day, finding it completely un-putdownable. A self assured and interesting debut, which will stay with me. I look forward to reading more by this talented author.

  • Lori
    2019-05-04 12:51

    Um. Yeah. This book full of suspense. The main character Noa is a woman on death row for a murder that you are sure she is guilty of but by the end of the book you realize there is guilt to be spread around. So while you realize Noa must pay for her crime you get the feeling that her bill is a little too much to pay while others kind of do a dine and dash.Everything is revealed bit by bit so I spent a lot of the book wishing for more information and then when I got it I became angry at the actions and choices characters made. They were all so stupid. I mean if there was a decision to be made, an action to be taken the characters always ALWAYS choose the more of two evils instead of the lesser. In the end it was a good premise and the characters were interesting but I just didn't feel the motivation each had for doing what they did. Perhaps had they been a little more developed I would have understood and sympathized more but as it stands I spent a lot of book book wondering "Why would you DO that?"

  • Deb
    2019-05-05 05:51

    I got all the way to page 9 and thought Yuck! What a waste of words and paper. The author seems to want to be clever, and it only turns out to be stupid. Here's an example from the first paragraph: "In this world, you are either good or evil ... The gray middle ground, that mucous-thin terrain where most of life resides, is really only a temporary annex, like gestation or purgatory. It shadows over everyone in its vacuous and insipid cape, flying across the sky, making smoke letters out of your fears." Mucous-thin? What? Then the middle ground "shadows", wears a cape, and flies "across the sky making smoke letters out of your fears"? What in the world does that mean?! And the paragraph continues on in the same vein.I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, so I reread that paragraph many times to see if I was just missing the metaphors and similes. Nope, I don't think so. It's just awful writing. By page 9 I shut the book and will return it to the library when it stops snowing.

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-04-25 05:34

    3.5 Sitting on Death row waiting for her death sentence to be carried out, Noa seems to have no interest in appeals or petitions for clemency. From the beginning the reader know what she has done, but not the why and not the reason she will do nothing to help herself. This was an intense look at the definition of legal guilt versus moral guilt. It also looks at our legal system as a whole with a very dark but witty tone. Slowly, clues, conversations, feelings are doled out in increments, but I had no idea and really can't see where I missed something that would have given me the answer. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending, I think in a way it ended the only realistic way that it could. Anyway it definitely held my interest, it was entertaining at times, suspenseful. confusing and well written.

  • Martha
    2019-05-20 07:33

    This was a novel that I truly enjoyed--clever plot, great pacing, convincing self destructive characters--but I had some reservations about the writing, so I'd choose 3 1/2 stars to rate, or 4 stars for structure, 3 stars for the glut of metaphors and similes that drag it down--clever metaphors, yes, but not essential to the story. For the first half of the book, as Noa, sitting on death row, launches into the sad story of her derailed life, I sensed that the author was doing that meticulous, descriptive thing they must teach in creative writing programs, hovering over an idea and squeezing as many metaphors from it as can be derived in a sitting. Amazingly, just after a life threatening clog of them in Chapter 8 ("My hands were cuffed, facing each other like confused children outside the principal's office," later "My eyes pickpocketed the room."), the air cleared and the story sailed off at a satisfying clip. This reader felt relieved. I hope the author felt that way, too, as her story unfolded without all of that high strung hovering and her wonderful story-telling voice was liberated. From then on the pace was just right and enough information fed out just to keep the reader on edge and hungry for more. Noa's guilt is never in question, but the degree of her guilt is. Does she deserve the death penalty? Why is she so passive? These questions accumulate as the story moves along, and you're never really sure of anything until "X-Day" passes.

  • Gaby
    2019-05-17 07:27

    As they say in popular culture, “I can’t even.” Giving “The Execution of Noa P. Singleton” one star makes me want to revisit my other one-star ratings and score them higher. It was BAD. I feel that reading to the end reflects badly on me, like, why didn’t I give up? Where should I begin? I started taking note of the examples of the truly awful writing, but quickly gave up. I’m relieved that many other Goodreads reviewers also quote some examples. There are many to choose from, but two that actually made me stop reading to just appreciate the awfulness were:“A sooty drop of vanilla fell to his chin and he removed it with his tongue, long and lean as an amusement park slide, cleaning off the frozen remains.”How can vanilla ice-cream be sooty? Soot is defined as “a deep black powdery or flaky substance consisting largely of amorphous carbon, produced by the incomplete burning of organic matter.” I guess it could be flaky, but sooty as an adjective is generally used in reference to its color. And why does the narrator need to reminisce about her father’s tongue being long and lean? Why is this simile necessary, what does it add? I know it seems like I’m being too harsh on one isolated sentence, but the whole book is written in this way. One needs to plod through one unnecessary affected flourish after another, and it detracts from the story. Here’s another line that bothered me:“The quest toward a windmill is more fulfilling than an empty stroll, sometimes, even if the windmill isn’t real.” I feel like the author once heard something about Don Quixote and quests and windmills, and just tried to make this literary reference but just… no. The writing is so needlessly opaque that it’s hard to keep up with what plot there is, and- you know what, I think I should just wrap this up. Very quickly- the relationship between ALL characters are ridiculous and unreal (Noa/Oliver, Noa/her father, Noa/Marlene) and characters are unlikeable, unidentifiable, and unbelievable, in a bad way. Like Joffrey Baratheon is unlikeable in a good way, one enjoys hating him. Eva (from “We Need to Talk About Kevin”) is not someone every reader will identify with, yet you get where she’s coming from. And Amy Dunne certainly ends up being almost too much, unbelievable, yet the author has done such a good job, you better believe in Amy. But here, the characters didn’t make any sense. Why would he do that? Why would she say that? Etc. Series like “Rectify” have beautifully portrayed complex characters in death row. Even "Orange is the New Black" does a better job explaining the different choices that women take that lead them to prison. Here, adult Noa behaves like a sullen smirking teenager with her arms crossed and tongue constantly stuck out. Whether her tongue is long and lean or short or stubby or just regular sized, the author didn’t specify.Don’t read this book. Not even if you’re in vacation with nothing else to do and are waiting for the books you ordered online to arrive. Not even if this was on sale.

  • Kathryn Berla'
    2019-05-14 11:31

    This book is so unmitigatedly awful that I can't stop thinking about how angry I am that I read the whole thing. I only stayed with it because I saw it on Entertainment Weekly's Must list a couple of months back, a source I usually trust. And now, after reading others' reviews, I see it was on Amazon's June recommendation list as well. What a hoax. Other reviewers have lauded the publicist and marketers for this book, and I guess that explains why it was promoted, because it certainly did not get there on the merits of the writing. First of all, the plot is basically a poor man's season of Damages with a watered-down Glen Close wanna-be as the antagonist. Much like Damages, you are never sure who to root for, if anyone. Unlike Damages, none of the characters are convincingly developed or nuanced in any way. In fact, the story unwinds in two voices, a first-hand account from the titular "protagonist""," and an all-too-convenient epistolary account from the antagonist. This device is so sophomoric! It conveniently provides information that the protagonist cannot, much like a voice-over in a poorly written movie screenplay. Amateur! On top of that, the voices of the two characters really are not differentiated. Comparisons of this book to Gone Girl are completely manufactured hype. Secondly, the writing is maddingly awful. Other reviewers have lifted quotes from the book which humorously demonstrate the clunky, sometimes grammatically incorrect writing style. I encourage readers to sample these reviews for a good laugh. Suffice it to say, this book was poorly edited, and maybe shouldn't have been greenlit at all. I applaud any writer who actually sits down and writes instead of just talking about being a writer. I hope the author does not spend time reading these negative reviews, because they are hurtful. I just feel betrayed by the professional reviewers who promoted this book. I kept reminding myself while I was reading that EW had put it on the list, so it must get good at any minute now... Wrong. Luckily I got my copy at the library, so I only wasted time and brain cells, not money. I think there actually might be a basis for a class-action lawsuit against Amazon for recommending this.I gave this two stars yesterday because, well, maybe there are worse things out there. Woke up still fuming about it today, so knocked it down to one star.

  • Joanne Guidoccio
    2019-05-03 12:45

    Gone Girl. The Other Typist. The Silent Wife. The Execution of Noa P. Singleton.Introducing unlikeable protagonists who may not be reliable narrators seems to be a trend among authors launching debut novels.In The Execution of Noa P. Singleton, we meet a young woman who is sitting on death row, awaiting execution for murder. We quickly learn, within the first three pages, that she “was lucid, attentive, mentally sound, and pumped with a single cup of decaffeinated Lemon Zinger tea” when she pulled the trigger.But of course there is more to her story, a story that is told during the six month period leading up to X-Day.Somewhat reconciled to her fate, Noa is surprised by the unexpected visit of two lawyers: Oliver Stansted, a young, naive Brit who passionately believes she was wrongfully sentenced to death and Marlene Dixon, a high-powered attorney who also happens to be the mother of Sarah, Noa’s victim.A strong advocate of a new agency called MAD (Mothers Against Death), Marlene has undergone a change of heart since testifying at Noa’s trial ten years previously. She no longer believes in the death penalty and wants to help commute Noa’s sentence. At first, she appears to be taking the high ground, but a different Marlene emerges in the letters to her dead daughter, which are interspersed throughout the novel.Noa’s story slowly unfolds as a series of flashbacks. We read about her mother, a failed community theater actress who shamelessly neglected her daughter and the absentee father who showed up several months before the horrendous crime. In fact, his intrusion in Noa’s life sets in motion a series of events that ultimately lead to Sarah’s tragic death.The theme of betrayal runs rampant throughout the novel. Noa’s former friends and classmates turn on her, describing her as a pathological liar with manipulative tendencies. Her mother’s acting skills fail her as she shamelessly flirts with the prosecuting attorney while testifying on her daughter’s behalf. As for her father, he didn’t even testify. After the trial, everyone disperses, leaving Noa to face ten years of incarceration before “X” day.Author Elizabeth Silver has written a thought-provoking novel about that “gray middle ground” between legal innocence and actual innocence.

  • Ariel
    2019-04-29 11:35

    I have been on an unreliable narrator kick lately. Gone Girl, The Dinner, and The Other Typist to name a few. All of the books are narrated by a character who wants to be seen in the best possible light but who can't ever really hide their dark underbelly. Gone Girl was truly shocking to me but the more I read these kind of books the more a pattern emerges. Everything the narrator says is all roses and kittens and then a "psychologist" will weigh in with their two cents somewhere near the end of the book and I guess the reader is supposed to believe that the true nature of the character has been exposed.In this book Noa P Singleton is awaiting execution for the murder of her father's girlfriend. The book counts down the months as the execution approaches and gives us one last tantalizing chapter. While Noa is awaiting her date with death, she is visited by Marlene Dixon who is the mother of the girl she murdered. If Noa will tell her why she killed her daughter she will help her get off death row. Maureen is a powerful attorney so this is not an idle promise, she can make it happen. Without her help Noa is out of options.I really wanted to love this book but there were a few problems. For one all of the answers and action are loaded at the end of the book. I could see literally on page 245 where the action geared up to the point that the reader would finally get some answers. The other problem was that I never believed that the girl Noa murdered would have ever been in the relationship she was which was the catalyst for half the book. It didn't make sense to me, I guess you either bought it or you didn't. I didn't.I think there is a lot of things for a reading group to puzzle and dissect. There is always is with this kind of novel. You are always left wondering what is the "true" part of the story and what was the part the character wanted you to believe. In the end the whole thing is made up anyway so I am not going to ponder too hard. It was a quick read but in the end I don't think it quite lived up to the hype in Entertainment Weekly.

  • Erin
    2019-04-27 08:27

    I would have rather given this 3.5 stars since I bounced back and forth between 3 and 4. I enjoyed this book. I read it quickly, it was a page-turner for sure. I'm not going to go into plot details since I don't want to spoil anything; however, depending on your opinions about capital punishment and the judicial system in the United States, this book may challenge your thoughts or may affirm your beliefs. Either way the author keeps you interested by only revealing small tidbits of Noa's life (past and present) and the world of her supporting cast.She's an unreliable narrator. Some may even say she's unlikeable but I think that makes the story endearing. If we liked every character in a book there would be no emotion, no turmoil. It would be boring. This book was definitely not boring.

  • Carrie
    2019-05-15 07:33

    I finished this, but barely. It was touch-and-go, and if the book had been much longer I wouldn't have made it.The author's writing just doesn't appeal to me. The metaphors are too thick, the "literary" phrasings too forced, the moral or point of the book not effective. I think the author intended this to be a book that forced the reader to ponder the value of the death penalty and the workings of the US judicial system, but I never got beyond a passing curiosity and overall boredom with the characters and their stories. Was this supposed to be suspenseful? Was I supposed to be asking myself whether Noa did the crime, and if so why? Should I have been focused on Marlene's obsession, "What happened?"Well, I wasn't. Mild curiosity was all I could muster.Not recommended.

  • Leah
    2019-05-01 10:36

    Intelligent and satisfying…‘When I arrived, there were fifty-one women on death row in the United States. All we needed was to drop one to have a proper national beauty pageant, or add one if you wanted to include Puerto Rico and Guam.’Noa P. Singleton has been on death row for 10 years and has run out of appeals. But then she’s never really fought too hard against her sentence anyway – why should she? She tells us straight away that she’s guilty. So when Marlene, the mother of the victim, turns up to say that she’s decided the death penalty is wrong and she intends to appeal for clemency, Noa feels it’s pointless. Especially since what Marlene wants most is to know what really happened on the day her daughter, Sarah, died – and Noa really isn’t willing to go into that. But since she doesn’t get visitors and since Ollie - the lawyer Marlene has asked to put the appeal together - seems like a nice, if rather naïve, young man, Noa agrees to let him visit. The story is told in the form of a memoir Noa intends to send to Ollie after her death, with short passages inset of Marlene’s letters to her dead daughter. We gradually find out about Noa’s early life and the experiences that have shaped her. Or do we? Noa’s the first to point out that what people say isn’t necessarily the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The story unfolds slowly, leaving plenty of room for Noa to digress about the legal system, which she does with a biting sarcasm that at points, particularly early in the book, is wryly funny. Here’s her description of one of the jurors at her trial:‘Melissa Silva, thirty-six, journalist, hungry for blood. She later wrote a self-published memoir about her experience on this case that made it to the top ten thousand books on Amazon.’The characterisation of Noa is extremely well done, leaving the reader never quite sure whether she is the victim of circumstance or an evil killer who deserves to be where she is. The plot is interesting and well developed, with both strands - of the murder and of Noa’s approaching execution date - running in parallel; and tension slowly builds towards a satisfying dénouement. For me, there were a couple of weaknesses, both things I find often happen in debuts. Marlene’s voice in her letters wasn’t sufficiently different from Noa’s, which tends to remind the reader too much that both voices in reality belong to the author. Also, while I enjoyed the writing style and use of language very much, occasionally Silver falls into the trap of trying to be a bit too clever with her words, using vocabulary and descriptions that are a bit too high-flown to quite fit. But these are minor quibbles over what is overall a very impressive first novel and a satisfying and intelligent mystery. I look forward to seeing more from this talented author in the future. NB This book was provided for review by the

  • Obsidian
    2019-05-20 12:50

    We begin the novel almost at the end of the life of Noa P. Singleton. Noa in six months will be executed for a murder she committed. We find out that Noa was found guilty ten years previously for the murder of a young woman. Noa is visited by an attorney, Oliver Stansted, who is working for Marlene Dixon, the mother of the young woman Noa murdered. Oliver's goal is to get Noa a commuted sentence so that she will not be executed for the murder. Ultimately, Marlene's goal is to get Noa to reveal what happened to lead to her daughter's death though Noa is reluctant to revisit that with the attorney or Marlene.I ended up just rating this three stars because even though the storyline is an intriguing one I had a hard time finding anything commendable about the character of Noa or Marlene. You quickly find out through Noa's tale of her upbringing and what led her to murder another person that she is seriously not a sympathetic person at all. There definitely seems at the end that the author wanted to show that Noa wasn't all bad but I just didn't get there. When we come upon the character of Marlene and what actions she committed to lead to this tale you end up feeling appalled by her behavior as well. I think it is very hard when an author writes a story told from the anti-hero point of view. You have to give the readers enough details to at least show them where the character is coming from so that the reader can at least root for that person or become invested in them in some way. However, in the end, I definitely did not root for Noa or excuse her for what she did. Finally I really couldn't understand Marlene's thought process. We find out that Marlene at least guessed at what happened and why so why she needed Noa to tell her story so to speak was just a framing device that I thought really didn't work in this story the way that it should have.Please note that I received this novel via the Amazon Vine Program.

  • Melinda
    2019-04-29 08:41

    Silver accomplished an arduous novel for her debut. A complicated and controversial subject matter on many levels. Powerfully written with extreme detail, irresistible page turner. The reader understands the 'why' but most importantly you are left asking yourself the question of 'does the sentence fit the crime?' Guilt and innocence are intricately entwined leaving the heavy question of mitigating circumstances the deciding divider between the accusers guilt or innocence. Inside and outside factors of the law also play an import role in the overall determination of Noa's actual participation along with the root of her guilt or innocence. Silver will capture your undivided attention with her focus on details, and outstanding characterization with superb dialogue. The tension created causes great angst and the reader is hooked into the novel head on. Memorable, will leave you asking yourself several uneasy questions for quite a while after the novel is placed on the shelf. Excellent selection for groups providing endless discussion.

  • Heather L
    2019-05-01 05:50

    I can tell this one was written by a lawyer. Jesus, this person likes to hear themselves Whatever. With the exception of Oliver, there were no likeable characters in this story. This was chosen for book group, and I can't wait to tear it apart. It was horrible. I was never entertained, intrigued, connected, enthralled...NOTHING. If there would have been some more solid emotions behind the characters' and their motives, at least something, anything, give me just a modicum of anything real, I think this would have been a whole hell of a lot better. Noa deserved to go to prison. Caleb was a sniffling, cowardice of a man. Marlene was just cold and none of her letters were felt with any sympathy or concern. Sarah was just like her mother. All of them were just wretched. And for the record: 1 simile is quite sufficient, maybe 2 at the most. I don't need 4. I don't need to read a paragraph full of what something smelled like, or how the person walked, or Every. Little. Effin. Detail. Get to the story, get to the guts of the matter. Get to the point....I'm out!

  • Nancy McFarlane
    2019-04-28 07:44

    A stunning and thought-provoking psychological novel about guilt, betrayal and remorse told in an unusual set of flashbacks by a woman on death row, and in letters to the victim by her bereaved mother. The reader is forced to rethink his idea of guilt and innocence and what punishment is just, as the dark but beautifully written story slowly reveals the true nature of the main characters.

  • Morgan Carattini
    2019-04-22 05:49

    Wonderfully written and a compelling read, narrated by a woman on death row for murder interspersed with letters written to the victim by her mother. Highly recommend.

  • Kathy Cunningham
    2019-04-29 05:43

    Elizabeth L. Silver's THE EXECUTION OF NOA P. SINGLETON has a great premise - thirty-five-year-old Noa is on death row for murder, with her execution date just six months away, when Marlene Dixon, the mother of her victim, shows up with a proposal. Marlene will use her influence to convince the State to commute Noa's sentence to life in prison in exchange for information on her daughter's murder. Why did Noa kill Sarah? What exactly happened on New Year's Day, 2003? Noa has never told her story - not to the press, not to her attorneys, and not in court. Noa can save her own life by revealing the truth behind Sarah's death. What should she do?Great premise, yes, but the novel slogs along in its overwritten prose, dragging the reader through Noa's self-indulgent musings and her meandering metaphors, until the actual details of the plot (what happened the day Sarah died?) don't really matter. Silver's novel pretends to be "literature," rather than a Grisham-style legal thriller. She uses lots of big, pretentious words, shovels-full of metaphors, and convoluted sentences that require careful unraveling to make sense (and they don't always make sense, even with that effort). Noa, who narrates the novel, is clearly an educated woman, with a fine grasp of language, although it's often distracting wading through her clever verbiage and layered parentheticals. It's also odd that in spite of her knowledge of grammar and syntax, Noa has no idea how to use the word "cliché" - she makes the high-school mistake of using the noun as an adjective (i.e. "it was `cheesy, cliché, nauseating'").If boiled down to its essence, Noa's story is both intriguing and compelling. Things happened to her in her childhood, during college, and in the months before the murder that do explain the death-row inmate in 2013. But so much of the story is buried under all the pretentious prose that it loses its impact by the end. I also found it impossible to believe that anyone could remember the specifics (including words spoken and things done) of something that happened when she was ten month's old. This little detail becomes important in events that happen to Noa later, but it stood out to me as jarringly incredible.Additionally, there are italicized letters in this book, purportedly written by Marlene Dixon to her long-dead daughter, but they sound exactly like Noa's first-person narration (which presumably sounds exactly like Elizabeth Silver). Again, it was distracting. Were these supposed letters created by Noa (who was created by Silver)? The final letter suggests not. But Marlene and Noa use the same convoluted style of expression, the same over-reliance on metaphor and parentheticals. It's frustratingly confusing.Overall, THE EXECUTION OF NOA P. SINGLETON does deliver a satisfying and believable dénouement, and the final act makes some sort of odd, if convoluted, sense. But reading this novel is exhausting. If lines like "It's isolating, like a termite scuffling up your innards" and "My eyes pickpocketed the room" are your cup of tea, then you might enjoy this novel. I, on the other hand, kept wondering how a scuffling termite (in my innards?) was "isolating," which tended to get in the way of the story itself. This one didn't work for me. [Please note: I was provided a copy of this book for review; the opinions expressed here are my own.]

  • Kara
    2019-05-06 10:31

    I don't know what I can say about this book other than you should read this book.It chronicles the impending execution of Noa, sentenced to death for the murder of another young woman about her age, told from Noa's point of view. Noa doesn't rail against the system, or claim to be a victim of a set up. In fact, Noa does little to nothing to fight her conviction or sentence, and tries to explain this to what she thinks is yet another eager beaver pro bono defense attorney who shows up to explain that the mother of the victim has had a change of heart and is now planning to file a clemency petition on Noa's behalf. What follows is the strange and gripping tale of Noa's life, and what brought her to death row. It took me a while to figure out why I was so entranced by this book, and I realized it's because I was never entirely sure what was happening. Was Noa innocent? Why didn't she fight harder to clear her name? Or wait, maybe she really did do it? Is she martyring herself? Noa is one of those people who pushes people away, who says provocative things she may or may not believe not just to get a rise out of people (which I personally detest), but to push them away - minus all the cloying altruism of "he's too good for me" or what have you. She's prone to lies and exaggerations, but are these indicators of a sociopath, or just someone who's proud and doesn't like to admit hurt or defeat? Yet knowing all this, she still comes across as clear, sane, intelligent and rational. So how the hell did she end up on death row, and why isn't she doing anything about it.This book is executed so flawlessly that it isn't until the author reveals additional tidbits of information several chapters later that you even realize you missed that detail the first time. You get so distracted in what Noa's story is, and the way she tells it, that you forget to question what she isn't telling you.The novel mainly shifts back between the story of Noa's life and what led her to Philly and her present-day interactions with the clemency attorney and the victim's mother, Marlene. Of course, I was gripped by trying to get to the ultimate questions of did she do it and why? But the story was much more compelling than just trying to answer those questions. I finally realized that Noa P. isn't just a work of fiction, or even a mystery, but really a pscyhological thriller masked as the former. And for those reasons I won't go into the details of what I felt about which characters. By the end, I think I know what happened, and I think I know whose side I was on, but the only thing I know for sure is that this was an imaginative, well-researched, impeccably delivered novel that needs to be made into a move like last week!So before it hits the theaters, READ THIS BOOK.I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.