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Rachel-K
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Later Chapters, Whole Novel

Please use this thread to discuss your ideas about the entire novel. Spoilers are fine here!
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Jette
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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel

I am new to this online book club experience.  I just finished reading Belong To Me.  I had never heard of Marisa before.  I was shopping at Amazon.com and felt drawn to the cover of the book, took a chance and ordered it.  Little did I know, reading the book would be a very intense and personal experience for me.  I read the entire novel in one day-I could not put it down.  As I closed the book, I began to sob.  When Emma said Christmas is in two weeks, I know exactly what she meant and how she felt.  I watched my mother die of cancer.  Unfortunately for my family, Christmas was too far away that year.  My mom died on December 18th, which was 11 days after her 54th birthday.   I felt a very deep connection to Dev.  Growing up, I felt like an alien in my family.  When I was 9, my grandmother informed me, without my mom's knowledge, that the nice police officer who waved to me on my way to school was in fact my real father.  I also learned that the nice "old" lady who visited me at school and brought me toys was my grandmother on my real father's side.  My mother, like Lake, told many lies.  Needless to say, I felt betrayed and was very angry, just like Dev.  I never thought to ask what her intentions for lying were.  This book made me laugh out loud, it made me cry, it made me sob, it made me think about women and friendship and relationships, it made me think that perhaps my mom had good reasons for what she did.  Even though I feel as if I've been hit in the stomach with a sledgehammer, this novel was truly a gift.  Thank you Marisa.
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MarisadelosSantos
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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel



Jette wrote:
I am new to this online book club experience. I just finished reading Belong To Me. I had never heard of Marisa before. I was shopping at Amazon.com and felt drawn to the cover of the book, took a chance and ordered it. Little did I know, reading the book would be a very intense and personal experience for me. I read the entire novel in one day-I could not put it down. As I closed the book, I began to sob. When Emma said Christmas is in two weeks, I know exactly what she meant and how she felt. I watched my mother die of cancer. Unfortunately for my family, Christmas was too far away that year. My mom died on December 18th, which was 11 days after her 54th birthday. I felt a very deep connection to Dev. Growing up, I felt like an alien in my family. When I was 9, my grandmother informed me, without my mom's knowledge, that the nice police officer who waved to me on my way to school was in fact my real father. I also learned that the nice "old" lady who visited me at school and brought me toys was my grandmother on my real father's side. My mother, like Lake, told many lies. Needless to say, I felt betrayed and was very angry, just like Dev. I never thought to ask what her intentions for lying were. This book made me laugh out loud, it made me cry, it made me sob, it made me think about women and friendship and relationships, it made me think that perhaps my mom had good reasons for what she did. Even though I feel as if I've been hit in the stomach with a sledgehammer, this novel was truly a gift. Thank you Marisa.



I have to tell you how moved I was by your email. Truly, it's a novelist's wildest (and most humbling) dream: to reach readers in a profound way and maybe help them to see their own lives a little more clearly. The loss of your mother is a heartbreak even to hear about; it must have been wrenching to live through. And how difficult to find out those complicated and stunning truths about your father, especially at that in-between age of nine (I have a son who will be nine in June, so I know something about what a tricky time that can be). I think my interest in unconventional families and secrets may have started with my own experience of my father telling me, when I was a teenager, that he'd been married and divorced before he came to the United States, before he met and married my mother, and that I had two older half-brothers in the Philippines. It's a tough position to be in. You have to try to forgive and understand your parents, while at the same time you have to get your mind around a new configuration of family and try to embrace it.

Thank you for sharing your story with me. It was a brave thing to do.

Yours,
Marisa
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vivico1
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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel


Jette wrote:
I am new to this online book club experience. I just finished reading Belong To Me. I had never heard of Marisa before. I was shopping at Amazon.com and felt drawn to the cover of the book, took a chance and ordered it. Little did I know, reading the book would be a very intense and personal experience for me. I read the entire novel in one day-I could not put it down. As I closed the book, I began to sob. When Emma said Christmas is in two weeks, I know exactly what she meant and how she felt. I watched my mother die of cancer. Unfortunately for my family, Christmas was too far away that year. My mom died on December 18th, which was 11 days after her 54th birthday.





You know, when I read the part about Emma needing her mom to make it to Christmas, I really thought that when Tom said, its not too late, that they were going to make Christmas for her then. I had all these images of decorating, cooking, singing carols, doing all those things right then, in the next couple of days, maybe even telling Elizabeth it was Christmas already, just to make sure they had a Christmas together. I am glad she made it to Christmas.

When my mom divorced the man who raised me with her (he wasnt my real dad but didn't know it till I was 15, as I said before but sure was glad he wasn't), she married a man who was quite a character but a very kind man. I was just graduating high school and working to get money for college. In a year or two, my younger brother and I got very close to him. When they moved out here to Oklahoma, I came out in one year, to go to college here and lived with them for awhile. It was great! I may have just started college but its the first time I felt like we had a family. And my little brother started talking more and he loved my stepdad. But John (my stepdad) was very sick. He had diabetes bad from when he was a POW in Japan at just 19 during WWII and now it was killing, him. They couldn't, but the things that developed later from the torture and beatings were catching up with him. Also he smoked like a chimney. Not in the house tho. Anyway, he loved that I was in college, when he went in the VA hospital for one of the hundreds of times, he told me once, he wished he could adopt me. I was out on my own again within a year, had my own apartment while going to school and in November I asked him, if he would like me to take him to the mall to do his Christmas shopping, just the two of us. He didnt drive by then. He said, I would love that. So I went by after work to pick him up and he had a really bad coughing spell in the livingroom, so bad he fell to his knees trying to catch his breath. He finally cleared his throat, and was able to sit in the chair and I said, John, you want to wait and do this another day? He said NO, I want to go now, I have been waiting all day for us to go! He was excited about it and I didn't want to disappoint him, so we sat for a bit to make sure he was ok and then we went to the mall. I said, let me get you a wheel chair, this is a huge mall. He wasnt thrilled about it, but said ok. I had bad knees even then and after about 10 minutes he said are you ok? I said sure why? He said, I am afraid its too much for you to push me around here. I hadnt known any of this kind of caring from my father by name and that just warmed me that he would worry so, but I was fine and I told him, No John, this is great! I get to lean on the back of the wheelchair if I need it, so this helps me too. Anyway, he got the gifts he wanted, except mine of course lol and was very happy with his choices. He asked me to take them home with me and wrap them for him. We had a wonderful dinner together, just us, and I took him home. It was a wonderful day.

He was in and out of the VA still, one day good, two bad days and in, then out. It had been like this for a year. We got use to going up there to see him, or being called up there. On Dec 9 at 3am my mom called me and said they called and said John is having a bad night, could I come up, will you go with me, I can't seem to wake up! So we went up there, something felt wrong this time, the way people looked at us. I saw a nurse backing out of his room crying and I stopped right there in the hall, my mother was still walking towards them. She looked at the nurse, and the nurse said do you want to go in? My mom said, well yes, but then stopped for a moment, looked at the nurse and said, is he ok? The nurse looked horrified, she thought whoever called, had told us already that John was dead and she almost marched my mom in there without her knowing. I still couldnt get closer. I just stood there, about 4 rooms down the hall. The doctor came out,and looked at mom and took her in and I heard her crying so very loud. A male nurse came towards me and said, do you want to go in? I said no. He said, your mom needs you. I said I can't. I never wanted to see him dead, didnt go to the funeral home except for business, didnt want to see him at the church but where they put him and us, I didnt have much choice. I never got to grieve then either, I had to take care of my mom, my brother, my older sister, who I was ready to kill, the funeral arrangements, everything. Everywhere we went, they all just looked at me and talked to me about the arrangements, and I remember thinking why me? I think it was just I was the only one holding it together at the moment, but my childhood had taught me how to hide pain.

That Christmas was hard, as I know it is for anyone who loses a loved one in December, but what made it harder was, there were his presents under the tree for all of us and he wasnt there. My younger brother opened his. I opened mine, he had bought me an University of Oklahoma letter cardigan sweater with my name on it and the school. I had really wanted one. My mom couldnt open hers, she put it in her closet for a long long time. Thing is, we thought he would be there for christmas. He was had been in and out of the hospital for a year and he was ok when he was at home. None of us got to say goodbye and we only had him for 7 years. He was 57 when he died. That was 35 years ago and that day in November with him, still means the world to me. Still makes me emotional evidently too. If I can pull it together here, I got a question now for anyone or everyone. I was glad that Elizabeth had Christmas with them. What I wonder is, if any of you have lost someone close to Christmas, or in just thinking about it, do you think it was harder to lose them right before Christmas, or after? Or do you think it would be, for those who havent? I think losing anyone around any holiday is but, I had that special day with John that meant something to him and in a way, that was our goodbye, but he would never talk about dying, ever and so much was left unsaid. And I still see those presents there and he not there with us and how strange that was and I think, if I had made him wait to go, if we had put it off because of his spell, we may not have had those to contend with emotionally, but then, he may not have had that one day he wanted, to concentrate on giving, and I think, to make sure we had something from him for Christmas if he didnt make it. I dunno. I still miss him.
So anyway, what do you guys think, about the question, I mean.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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vivico1
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Hope

Marisa,
On page 276, you gave me something that I swear if I was an artsy person, I would have this on something beautiful to hang up on my wall and look at all the time. I do like this idea...hope is an ability! This is when Dev is trying to figure out why Lyssa would try to kill herself and Teo says to him, "maybe, under a lot of stress, she just lost the ability to hope". Dev says he just thought it was something your brain just went ahead and did, even sometimes against its better judgment. I think thats how most of us think about hope, its just something we have or do automatically. But its not, Hope Is an Ability. And as with all abilities, we have to exercise it, use it, or we can lose it, or forget how to hope. It is quite similar to faith in that respect. I do like that line...hope is an ability. :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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MarisadelosSantos
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Registered: ‎04-22-2008
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Re: Hope



vivico1 wrote:
Marisa,
On page 276, you gave me something that I swear if I was an artsy person, I would have this on something beautiful to hang up on my wall and look at all the time. I do like this idea...hope is an ability! This is when Dev is trying to figure out why Lyssa would try to kill herself and Teo says to him, "maybe, under a lot of stress, she just lost the ability to hope". Dev says he just thought it was something your brain just went ahead and did, even sometimes against its better judgment. I think thats how most of us think about hope, its just something we have or do automatically. But its not, Hope Is an Ability. And as with all abilities, we have to exercise it, use it, or we can lose it, or forget how to hope. It is quite similar to faith in that respect. I do like that line...hope is an ability. :smileywink:


One of the things that's always amazed me about writing is that sometimes I don't know that something is true, or at least true for me, until I write my way to it. For instance, what Vivian is talking about in her post, the idea that hope is more than just an involuntary impulse, that it's an ability, something we can get better at or work toward, wasn't something I thought or would've been able to articulate before I wrote that section of the book. There's also a moment at the end when Cornelia says, "Love can be a decision." I think she's right, but I spent much of my life not knowing that I think she's right.

Marisa
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