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Rachel-K
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First Impressions

Please use this thread to discuss your impressions as you begin reading.
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Debrachris
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Registered: ‎10-26-2007
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Re: First Impressions

I thought that Ann must have had direct contact with someone who suffers from severe depression (our suffers with it herself) because she was so dead on in her portrayal of the depressed girl. In fact, I thought I had no questions for the author but that is one I would like to ask: if she has had contact with anyone so severely depressed. I liked her book very much though I was a bit frustrated with the two adult friends (sorry, I read it 5 or 6 books ago and don't remember names!) and their lack of communication at times. I realize friends can sometimes miscommunicate but these two were very close and should have been able to open up before things got out of hand.
Regards, Debbie
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readerfan
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Registered: ‎10-26-2007
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Re: First Impressions



Debrachris wrote:
I thought that Ann must have had direct contact with someone who suffers from severe depression (our suffers with it herself) because she was so dead on in her portrayal of the depressed girl. In fact, I thought I had no questions for the author but that is one I would like to ask: if she has had contact with anyone so severely depressed. I liked her book very much though I was a bit frustrated with the two adult friends (sorry, I read it 5 or 6 books ago and don't remember names!) and their lack of communication at times. I realize friends can sometimes miscommunicate but these two were very close and should have been able to open up before things got out of hand.


I am about half way through reading Ann Packer's latest novel, Songs Without Words. I just wanted to comment on your impression that close friends should have been able to communicate better. The thing that I think Ann Packer does so ingeniously, both in this and her first book A Dive from Clausen's Pier, is that she captures the internal insecurities and obstacles between people. Even though each of these women (Liz and Sarabeth) would undoubtedly say the other one is their closes friend in the world, they harbor many silent envies and internal dialogs that prevent them from fully opening up. I am reading this book with some measure of trepidation because my best friend and I, the one for whom I would swim the Atlantic, are struggling for no good reason. Her daughter, though not depressed, has taken a radical left hand turn and it through my girlfriend for an emotional loop. Instead of running to me, as she would for ANY other major issue she encounters in life, she shoved me away. There is some envy involved on some level because we have daughters the same age, but mine is making better choices (for the moment, mind you). I cannot even describe the depth of the pain I experienced as my friend avoided my calls, and lashed out in unexpected ways. I had to swallow every ounce of my pride to force a conversation between us that had us both in tears. We are on the road to recovery, patching the holes in the boat of our friendship, but it won't be easy. I would NEVER have imagined that a crisis with her daughter would drive our friendship apart. That is why I am reading Ann Packer's book with such caution, because I think it is going to hit very close to home, and touch on some pretty raw nerves. Sincerely, my confidence in Packer's ability to relay that mysterious inner dialog is what keeps me pressing through it. I want to know what kinds of thoughts my friend was having that would keep her from leaning on me through this. At the same time, I hope I can handle the answers when they come. Any way, this is probably more than you wanted to know, but just to say, I think the author is revealing something very realistic, though unexpected and for those who have never experienced it, perhaps inconceivable. I'm living proof that, once again, Ann Packer is a master of the human condition.

For what it is worth...
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Rachel-K
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Re: First Impressions

Readerfan,

Thanks so much for sharing how you relate to this. I agree about that ability to show us the "mysterious inner dialog" that reveals what is intensely dramatic lurking just under ordinary speech.

And Liz and Sarabeth's relationship points to hard questions about our own friendships--we feel most "ourselves" in them, but what are their limits? What can't they take? In what ways do friends step around each other's issues, and what would bring those "issues" to the front?
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jawilt26
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Registered: ‎10-30-2007
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Re: First Impressions

it took me a little bit to get through the book i did love it but got a little frustrated with some of the characters. For example when lauren tells her mom to F.... leave her alone Liz just leaves Laurens room. I wanted to scream at Liz. She should of done something or said something that would make an impression that was that was not exceptable behavior for a child to say to a parent. I did root for Lauren and wanted her to get better I was rooting for her. I'm glad that Sarabeth finally said no to a married man and didn't reapeat that mistake. Overall i really liked the book and can't wait for Anne Packer's next novel.
Jodie A Wilt
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kiakar
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Re: First Impressions



rkubie wrote:
Readerfan,

Thanks so much for sharing how you relate to this. I agree about that ability to show us the "mysterious inner dialog" that reveals what is intensely dramatic lurking just under ordinary speech.

And Liz and Sarabeth's relationship points to hard questions about our own friendships--we feel most "ourselves" in them, but what are their limits? What can't they take? In what ways do friends step around each other's issues, and what would bring those "issues" to the front?





I really did enjoy this book alot. We do relate to best friends as being forever and nothing would ever come between us, but I have a few that things have come between us too. We, human beings, are quite complicated, especially things concerning our most initimate place, the heart. Sometimes we expect to much of our friends, by listening to others quote requirements of best friends, we think all friends should give us one hundred percent of every rule of friendship. We are all limited in what we can give others and what we can't because of where we have been. This is somewhat true with family members. With Sarabeth, she still had demons to face with the sucicide of her mom and couldn't be the friend Liz needed. Sarabeth was riding down the road of depression herself when the demons crossed in her path hearing about Liz's dilemna with Lauren.
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SunBeam
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: First Impressions

I think this -how well do you know someone- is a huge theme throughout the novel. How well do we know our friends, our family even? This exploration of relationships between friends & family is very poignant and true to life. Would you be able to turn to a life long friend who you've cherished, yet always felt as though you're one up on them when you world comes crashing down? You're not only admitting defeat to yourself, but to the world as well. Friendship goes both ways, can we push our friends when we're not willing to always admit our own weaknesses?
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kiakar
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Re: First Impressions



jawilt26 wrote:
it took me a little bit to get through the book i did love it but got a little frustrated with some of the characters. For example when lauren tells her mom to F.... leave her alone Liz just leaves Laurens room. I wanted to scream at Liz. She should of done something or said something that would make an impression that was that was not exceptable behavior for a child to say to a parent. I did root for Lauren and wanted her to get better I was rooting for her. I'm glad that Sarabeth finally said no to a married man and didn't reapeat that mistake. Overall i really liked the book and can't wait for Anne Packer's next novel.





Isn't it strange how we become so rightous when we are reading what someone doesn't or does do? But when we think about it, someone could do that to us also. We can't live our life to please others. We are what we are, inside and out. We can accept some things and some we can't. With children, its impossible to know the right response to make in their behalf and ones to leave alone. We really have to live on faith and hard thinking. What is best for our children and are we giving them our best.
Author
AnnPacker
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎10-10-2007
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Re: First Impressions

Hi, Everyone--

First of all, thanks so much for joining in on a discussion of my book! I've never done this before and think it will be a lot of fun...and interesting, too. To those who asked if I'd had direct experience of anyone with depression: yes, I have, though not of a teenager like the character Lauren, in the novel. But I have struggled with depression myself and have had friends go through it as well. And long ago, my father was seriously depressed and ultimately committed suicide. But, you know, Lauren really comes more from my memory of adolescence than from anything else. Sometimes I look back on those high school years and am amazed that I survived! The emotions of adolescence can be so powerful, and you don't know while you're going through them that they will pass.

I'm intrigued by the comments about what Liz and Sarabeth should and shouldn't have done. I think we have high expectations for ourselves and for other people, and I'm fascinated by what happens when those expectations aren't met. Some of my hardest moments in life come from how I feel about myself when I haven't behaved well--whether morally, practically, bravely, honestly...you name it. In a review somewhere, it was said that I am an expert on guilt. I have to plead...guilty...to that. I do spend a lot of time thinking about the past, wondering about choices I made, etc. And sometimes, particularly when it's about my kids, feeling bad that I didn't "do better." But then I remember (or try to remember) that in any given moment we do what it's possible for us, at that moment, to do.

Keep those comments coming, and in particular let me know if you have any questions!

Thanks,
Ann


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Songs without Words
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kiakar
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Re: First Impressions



AnnPacker wrote:
Hi, Everyone--

First of all, thanks so much for joining in on a discussion of my book! I've never done this before and think it will be a lot of fun...and interesting, too. To those who asked if I'd had direct experience of anyone with depression: yes, I have, though not of a teenager like the character Lauren, in the novel. But I have struggled with depression myself and have had friends go through it as well. And long ago, my father was seriously depressed and ultimately committed suicide. But, you know, Lauren really comes more from my memory of adolescence than from anything else. Sometimes I look back on those high school years and am amazed that I survived! The emotions of adolescence can be so powerful, and you don't know while you're going through them that they will pass.

I'm intrigued by the comments about what Liz and Sarabeth should and shouldn't have done. I think we have high expectations for ourselves and for other people, and I'm fascinated by what happens when those expectations aren't met. Some of my hardest moments in life come from how I feel about myself when I haven't behaved well--whether morally, practically, bravely, honestly...you name it. In a review somewhere, it was said that I am an expert on guilt. I have to plead...guilty...to that. I do spend a lot of time thinking about the past, wondering about choices I made, etc. And sometimes, particularly when it's about my kids, feeling bad that I didn't "do better." But then I remember (or try to remember) that in any given moment we do what it's possible for us, at that moment, to do.

Keep those comments coming, and in particular let me know if you have any questions!

Thanks,
Ann




Ann, you seem to be a very sensitive person. I would love to meet and talk with you. I love people who really feel things. You sounded so much like the things that bother me also. The imperfections of our heart, we sometimes dwell on. Is this a human flaw? We will never be what we wish we were. Or we can't be all things? Your book reflects so much on your thoughts above, I simply adore this book.
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