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Jessica
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Registered: ‎09-24-2006
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The Book as a Whole

If you've read the whole book, let's talk about it here.

What did you think about Russo's writing style?

How would you summarize Lucy & Sarah's trip to Italy?

Any lingering questions about the plot?

Reply to this message to start the conversation!
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Lizabet
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Registered: ‎10-30-2007
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Re: The Book as a Whole

I'm confused about how I should feel about small town life according to this story. Is it a burden, a place to hide to pretend the ideal is possible?
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Jessica
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Re: The Book as a Whole



Lizabet wrote: I'm confused about how I should feel about small town life according to this story. Is it a burden, a place to hide to pretend the ideal is possible?




Interesting. I recall how Lucy describes his hometown at the beginning of the book:
"Can it be that what provides for us is the very thing that poisons us?"

Consider this in relation to the how he feels by the end of the book. Has Lucy changed significantly by then? Do you think his small town life offered him any comfort or security?

(From my own experience, I know that small towns can provide that sense of being tucked away safe and sound. Yet all families have their secrets, no matter where they live...)
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paul393939
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Registered: ‎11-07-2007
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Re: The Book as a Whole

Yes, It left me feeling confused, but I kind of assumed that is was meant to, you have to decide for yourself.. like shall you stay in the comfortable surroundings of the village or go outside and risk falling into a world of sin.
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Jessica
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Re: The Book as a Whole

[ Edited ]

paul393939 wrote: Yes, It left me feeling confused, but I kind of assumed that is was meant to, you have to decide for yourself.. like shall you stay in the comfortable surroundings of the village or go outside and risk falling into a world of sin.


I had the same general feeling.

To further the thought, though -- what do you think Lucy's life would have been like if he had taken the trip?

Do you think all of his issues would have come into the light eventually, regardless of where he was?

Message Edited by Jessica on 11-09-2007 01:04 PM
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Pgibbs2341
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Lucy & Sarah's trip to Italy?

Jessica. Correct me if I am wrong, but Lucy & Sarah never went to Italy in the book. The trip was cancelled after Lucy's "episode" in the school where he was looking at Sarah latest painting of the Bridge of Sighs. At the end of the book, they planned to go to Italy after Lucy reunited with Sarah I believe.
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Jessica
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Re: Lucy & Sarah's trip to Italy?


Pgibbs2341 wrote: Jessica. Correct me if I am wrong, but Lucy & Sarah never went to Italy in the book. The trip was cancelled after Lucy's "episode" in the school where he was looking at Sarah latest painting of the Bridge of Sighs. At the end of the book, they planned to go to Italy after Lucy reunited with Sarah I believe.


Oops. Bad editing! I meant to type "if they had taken the trip." Thanks!
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Pgibbs2341
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Strange

I'll tell you what I found strange. When Bobby Marconi admits that he was present when Jersey Quinn and the boys locked Lucy in the chest and Lucy has absolutely no reaction to that staggering admission. I was waiting for that to come out and for Lucy to come to see Bobby as an extremely flawed person instead of the near godlike person he thought him to be. No fight, no punch no ending the friendship...nothing! And remember, this incident in the chest was the start of Lucy's "episodes" and caused him and his family a tremendous amount of stress and grief throughout the years. Although Lucy admitted not seeming to mind having his "episodes" particularly, they ultimately led Lucy to have a stroke after his last one.

Also when Lucy found Sarah's "love note" (as he called it) to Bobby and read it aloud, was I the only one who didn't think it sounded like a love note at all. She didn't admit anything in the note and really just said that she was looking forward to seeing him in Italy and that he'd better not make fun of her for getting older or heavier. I agree that there was a familiarity in the letter, but doesn't that come out of being such close friends with Bobby in high school???

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Lizabet
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Registered: ‎10-30-2007
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Re: Strange

I don't think Lucy ever gets "love" as a healthy emotion. His idea of love is only what fits in his portrait of love. He is threatened by anything Sarah wants outside his "portrait" of their existence. That includes travel and reaching out to Bobby Marconi. He's not very likeable to me when the book is finally concluded.
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mairwill
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Strange

Pgibbs & All--

I agree that the "love note" sure didn't sound like a love note to me, either. You know I kept thinking Sarah and Bobby were going to have that one great love scene, but it didn't happen--only the one kiss. Sarah said she loved 2 men when she was a senior in high school, but I felt it was more of a "smitten-ness", but to a 17-year old it would feel like love.

But Lou was so insecure that he viewed the note that way.

Later--

Mair
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Jessica
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Re: Strange



Lizabet wrote:
I don't think Lucy ever gets "love" as a healthy emotion. His idea of love is only what fits in his portrait of love. He is threatened by anything Sarah wants outside his "portrait" of their existence. That includes travel and reaching out to Bobby Marconi. He's not very likeable to me when the book is finally concluded.




Hi Lizabet,

That's a great observation.

Did anyone else get the sense that Lucy will do anything to avoid an uncomfortable situation? Sure, sometimes he has to take baby steps out of his confined world, but for the most part, I felt like his biggest risk was walking home alone that day from school in the beginning of the book (and we see how that turned out).

And back to Lizbet's thoughts, since 'love' can be both intense and fickle by nature, I'm not surprised that Lucy is apprehensive about approaching the subject ... in any form.

However, I do like Lucy at the end of the book. Or maybe it's pity. Hmmm.
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Pgibbs2341
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Love

I'll agree that Lucy is a bit juvenile about love as a teen, but who wasn't at that age. Russo didn't share that much of Lucy's love life at age 60, so it is hard to determine if that continued into adulthood. I think that Lucy confronting Sarah about her "love note" to Bobby shows that there has been a graduation from the Lucy of old. The old Lucy probably never would have confronted Sarah, just ignored the issue in hopes that it might just go away. As far as Lucy being threatened by anything Sarah seeks from the outside world..ie travel and Bobby..I think that is true. He is threatened by a life he believes he can't give Sarah. But, we all have to remember that Sarah chose this life too when she chose Lucy. Same as Tessa did by choosing Big Lou. Sarah could have gone with Bobby or Tessa with Declan, and the results wouldn't have been as safe or predictable. That is what they wanted in the end. Quiet and safe lives where they could raise their kids and know what was around the corner.

Now, it took Sarah 40 + years to persuade Lucy to travel, but she finally convinced him to go to Italy with her. She accepted him for what he was I guess, even though she left him for a while. I think her leaving had more to do with her putting to rest her Mother's ghost than anything else though. It was partly due to Lucy and their marriage, but in the end it was about Sarah's peace of mind. She knew old predictable Lucy would take her back after she finished her pilgrimage. At the end of the book Lucy has completed his character arc. He started off as a child being timid and needy and ended up traveling and accepting of new things like the Kayla situation. He is not unlikable, just dependable.
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Jessica
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Re: The Book as a Whole

In an interview Russo said, “The future and the past are repeatedly getting mixed up in people’s minds. They think that which is gone is going to come back.” (Powells.com).

Which characters here are particularly prone to getting the past and the future mixed up? Do any of the characters fully escape this way of thinking?
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Pgibbs2341
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Longing for the past while living in the present

I don't think that any of the characters actually mix up the past with the present. Though all revisit it quite often throughout the book. The one character that would come closest to being accused of confusing the past and the present would be Lucy. But even Lucy realizes when he is doing it. He is always very conscious of the moment and that it is imaginary. I think that Russo meant that people often expect the past to still be the same as when they left it as a child. Available for them in the blink of an eye. They expect people to be the same and landmarks to remain standing as a monument to their childhood. As people get older, they realize that although they wish it to be that way, it simply isn't. I am witnessing this phenomenon first hand this year. I lost my Father last October and it seems that the loss of him has rendered this world virtually unrecognizable. This new cruel world has forever stolen the word Dad from me and it isn't fair. Condos are now springing up every couple of blocks, people are leaving town for good and of course, people are dying. I find myself longing for the days of my youth where life was simple and my Father was healthy as could be and not sick in some hospital bed or laid to rest in a local cemetery. This is what Lucy longed for too.

Even when Lucy had a spell while looking at Sarah's painting of the Bridge of Sighs and saw his Father, he realizes what it is. It is Big Lou's spirit. If my Father happened to be standing in my driveway one day one day and I had a full blown conversation with him, I promise you it wouldn't be a surprise. My past and present would be meeting in that perfect moment of effortless collision. People that have to leave us should be able to visit. Things would be nicer if they were more familiar. Your parents should always there to give you advice, offer you a hot meal and a hug. Everything would be better. It's simply the way it should be. People (especially people you are close to) should be around you. That's what Lucy longed for and what Russo was trying to express in his statement. They don't get the past and the present mixed up, they just long for the familiarity of the past in their heads sometimes.
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Greenbean
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Registered: ‎01-02-2008
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Re: The Book as a Whole

This would be in the "lingering questions about plot" category. I finished the book about a month ago, and I'm still confused about how/where Bobby died. At first it appeared that he died of some kind of attack just as Sarah's train pulled out of the station. But later a reporter told Lucy he keeled over during the awards dinner. What really happened? Could the reporter have been so utterly misinformed? Or was the description of Bobby's last hours some kind of fantasy?
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