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Jo6353
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Re: Early Chapters



GnANorman wrote:
I think with Kim's parents both working, and the lack of attention given her, that she naturally migrated to her friends.



I didn't really see a lack of attention. I saw a teenaged girl who was trying to break the bonds of childhood and establish her independence. Therefore she had retreated a bit from her family. Teenagers are always east to be close to, no matter how hard you try. Plus they never tell their parents everything, that's part of the independence thing. Jo
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boo27
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Re: Early Chapters

I like the book so far, but I have found it difficult reading.  Stewart O'Nan has done such a wonderful job of introducing the reader to the characters and making them so relatable that I feel like I am going through the agony with them.
 
Kim could be anybody's teenage daughter, which is what makes the plot line hit home for me, being as I have a daughter also.  I got a chuckle out of the part where Lindsay goes into Kim's room and looks in the puzzle box and finds a note that Kim left her.  Obviously Kim knew that Lindsay made a habit of snooping in her room and that this was her way of letting her know it without ratting her out to her parents.  I think Kim geniunely cared about Lindsay, the driving lesson and DQ lunch was nice to see and will give Lindsay something to hold onto in the days ahead.  I don't think Kim had a sense that something was wrong, I think she realized that life was going to change since she was going away to college and it could never go back to the way it was.  Again, for any of us who have gone through this, all those emotions are entirely familiar.
 
I think the Larsen family seems pretty normal.  There are hints however, of underlying tensions, i.e. the numerous references to Fran's drinking and Lindsay realizing how serious Kim's disapperance is since her parents are working together as a team.  Which leads me to think that its not normal practice in that house, so I am wondering how good of a relationship Fran and Ed have.  Kim was rebelling, testing her limits, not a child anymore, not quite an adult.  She spent as much time as she could with her friends, knowing that in the fall they would all go their separate ways.  I remember doing the same thing the summer before I started college. 
 
The part that bothered me the most (other than the obvious fact that Kim is missing) was the lack of urgency on the part of the police.  I don't know whether it was because it was a small town and they just didn't know what to do, or this is in fact a normal response when someone 18 and older goes missing.  It seemed to me that most of the actual searching was, in fact, being done by Kim's family and the volunteers they organized.  I could just be being naive however, not ever having to deal with something of this nature.
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Jo6353
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Re: Early Chapters



kiakar wrote:


I can't see that this family was dysfunctional. Maybe things have changed in families over the many years I raised my daughters but I do not think I would call this family dysfunctional at all. They loved together, played together. Times do change and the changes in this story was typical of working mom and working dad and children driving and so forth that can easily go wrong in a child's life but Dysfunctional NO,I will have to disagree.



I don't think this family was dysfunctional either. Dysfunctional is a too commonly used term for families with normal problems. However, I do think that the police's hands are tied in this matter. If someone doesn't want to be found it's their RIGHT to not be found and the police can't violate it. We've tied our own hands with too many RIGHTS! Ok, I'm off my soapbox now. Jo
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dhaupt
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Re: Early Chapters

In the first chapters after Kim's disappearance I found the family very characteristic of a normal family with teenagers in the home, secrets, spats between parents and children and between siblings.
After Kim is found missing I thought it was strange that Lindsay is upstairs in her room, until I remembered feeling like an outcast and from the description in the book she's a geeky, pimply girl who feels out of place. I do agree with several other readers that it was good of Kim to take Lindsay driving.

I haven't finished the book so I don't know what happens to Kim, but from the initial reading of the first chapter I have no clue what happened to her. If she had made it to work then maybe I would have thought that some one abducted her from there, but she obviously didn't make it to work.

The one thing that I wanted to do in the early chapters was to race ahead and find out just what the "secret" was that her friends were talking about and I haven't met Wooze yet.

I thought for the most part her friends reactions were genuine, I liked how they all came and pulled together with the family. I liked J.P.'s actions in these early chapters, I like how he explains to the readers his relationship with Kim.

So far I'm having a hard time putting the book down, it's a terrible subject by Mr. O'Nan is very eloquent in his re-telling of the story.
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Plumberswife
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Re: Early Chapters

 
Plmbrswife
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KxBurns
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Re: Early Chapters



Jo6353 wrote:


kiakar wrote:


I can't see that this family was dysfunctional. Maybe things have changed in families over the many years I raised my daughters but I do not think I would call this family dysfunctional at all. They loved together, played together. Times do change and the changes in this story was typical of working mom and working dad and children driving and so forth that can easily go wrong in a child's life but Dysfunctional NO,I will have to disagree.



I don't think this family was dysfunctional either. Dysfunctional is a too commonly used term for families with normal problems. Jo

I agree -- I think the family is imperfect but within the realm of a typical family. They seem pretty distant from each other in a way that I imagine to be pretty common in this day and age. As boo27 points out, there are some issues lurking just below the surface.
 
In my opinion, one of the strengths of these early chapters is meeting each family member as an individual and watching them struggle with their shortcomings in the face of this tremendous crisis. It will be interesting to see if these issues recede or become more pronounced as the family is exposed to additional strain. My sympathy for the family makes me hope it is the former.
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KxBurns
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Re: Early Chapters



noannie wrote:
I thought the time that the sisters spent together was very touching, now that Kim has disappeared. She seems to be a very normal teenager with her close friends, but she is keeping secrets from her family. I found it hard to connect with the mother, maybe because this book is written by a man. I didn't feel she grieved the way a normal mother would if her daughter disappeared without a trace. Did anyone else feel this disconnect or is it just me?
 
noannie


I'm intrigued by this response, noannie. What about Fran's reaction seemed off to you? I find myself surprised by her reaction, too -- but mainly by how well she is able to pull it together. I get the impression she is finding emotional resources she never knew she had.
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pigwidgeon
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Re: Early Chapters


vivico1 wrote:
... Kim tho is also just an average kid, well in some ways, I take that back and say, I know her activities are common, but I really hate to think of them as the average, the norm. Not all kids are into drinking, drugs, sex. But she is average in the sense that NO parent or adult really knows all a kid is into. ...


boo27 wrote:
... Stewart O'Nan has done such a wonderful job of introducing the reader to the characters and making them so relatable that I feel like I am going through the agony with them.

...

I think the Larsen family seems pretty normal. There are hints however, of underlying tensions, i.e. the numerous references to Fran's drinking and Lindsay realizing how serious Kim's disapperance is since her parents are working together as a team. Which leads me to think that its not normal practice in that house, so I am wondering how good of a relationship Fran and Ed have...




I have to agree with vivico1 on this one, though I don't mean to imply that vivico1 has entirely the same feelings that I am going to spew. I don't think that being involved with drugs, drinking alcohol (which people tend to forget is also a drug), and sex are normal activities for teenagers. I feel as though it is becoming more common and, dare I say it, acceptable, because more and more people feel as though these actions are something that all teenagers "experiment" with. I find the notion of these actions, especially the use of drugs and the social perception of drinking alcohol as "hip" or "cool" (even amongst adults), to be wholly disconcerting.

Unlike boo27, I am having a hard time relating to the characters. I AM, in fact, enjoying Mr. O'Nan's writing style, and the idea of unfurling the plot indirectly. I am unsure of why the characters have evoked so little emotional investment from me. As a teen, I was much the opposite of Kim, and though I also have a younger sister and both of my parents worked, my family situation felt greatly different from the one portrayed in this novel. The parts that I connected to the most were the sections where the characters are directly dealing with their loss. On page 62, J.P. is thinking about his love for Kim and "His thoughts had gone too far, and he focused on a cloud about to cover the sun." Small phrases showing the magnitude of possibly losing someone you care deeply about are what impacted me emotionally. Any of us who have lost someone very close to us knows these feelings, and Mr. O'Nan brings them fully to life with these moments. I remember trying to distract myself when the pain of loss was too hard to bear, as J.P. does here. How beautifully sad.

As boo27 has brought our attention to, there do seem to be quite a few areas of tension in the Larsen household. I found this idea nicely illustrated when Ed thinks about Fran, and that "In the basic emotional math of their marriage, he owed her." (p. 58) This familial tension is another sad undercurrent to the story, and one that I hope will lessen as the plot progresses. Tragedy (like the loss of a loved one) has been known to strengthen, or dissolve, already fragile bonds. I have a feeling there may not be a happy ending here, and hope that at least the family will come away with something positive. (always the optimist)
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caseylc
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Re: Early Chapters

I really felt that the early chapters built on the suspense of the book.  I kept trying to figure out the meaning between it all.  I was an amateur detective trying to place each character in the time and place of the disappearance. 
 
To me Kim was a fairly typical teenager, she had her faults like most but those faults where exploited by the lack of attention to her case initially.  I did not find her family to be dysfuntional as some have suggested.  I thought the fact that her parents still loved each other and demonstrated that despite the stress of situation (they did have their moments obviously).
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pigwidgeon
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Re: Early Chapters



KxBurns wrote:







Jo6353 wrote:





kiakar wrote:








I can't see that this family was dysfunctional. Maybe things have changed in families over the many years I raised my daughters but I do not think I would call this family dysfunctional at all. They loved together, played together. Times do change and the changes in this story was typical of working mom and working dad and children driving and so forth that can easily go wrong in a child's life but Dysfunctional NO,I will have to disagree.





I don't think this family was dysfunctional either. Dysfunctional is a too commonly used term for families with normal problems. Jo




I agree -- I think the family is imperfect but within the realm of a typical family. They seem pretty distant from each other in a way that I imagine to be pretty common in this day and age. As boo27 points out, there are some issues lurking just below the surface.

 

In my opinion, one of the strengths of these early chapters is meeting each family member as an individual and watching them struggle with their shortcomings in the face of this tremendous crisis. It will be interesting to see if these issues recede or become more pronounced as the family is exposed to additional strain. My sympathy for the family makes me hope it is the former.






Here, here!

Karen,
I agree with you about your comment on the strengths in the early chapters. No need to reiterate, you stated it perfectly.
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darma51
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Registered: ‎01-29-2007
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Re: Early Chapters

I agree that the response by the police seemed nonchalant but couldn't it also be that they didn't want to give the family false hopes.  They only report what is fact not speculation.  Although they may speculate they aren't about to let the family know it all, not just yet.
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darma51
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Re: Early Chapters

I totally agree.  I like his writing style.
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Beachdre
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Re: Early Chapters

I think the family's reaction is right up there with what you would imagine it to be.  With your child missing, you must be frantic to do something.  When the police attempt to call it a runaway, I would think every parent would feel a bit threatened by that & assume that it is not a runaway incident.
 
In the early chapters I pictured Kim as a typical teenager, who was heading off to college in the Fall.  Working & trying to spend as much time with her friends as possible.  I don't think spending time with your family would rate up too high for myself if I were in her shoes.  So for her to take her sister out showed she had a lot of good in her.  Especially with a hangover!!
 
 
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ilenekm
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Re: Early Chapters

I am really enjoying this book also.  I forced myself to stop reading at chapter 13 so that I can fully participate in the discussion. I found with the last book, that it was really hard to keep track of what happened in what chapter.  I agree that the parents are acting appropriately. I cannot imagine if that would happen to my child.  We have always told our children that they can come to us with any problem and that they would not get in trouble if they told the truth. 
 
My gut feeling is that Kims disappearance has something to do with the 'secret'.  It is a shame that none of the kids have come forth with the truth.  I cant wait to read the rest of the book.
 
Ilene
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gringorn
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Re: Early Chapters

I think Fran was holding onto a thread while trying to follow the instructions she was given for public announcements.......I felt that her actions and statements as written were very believable.  I also didn't see a disconnect between her and her husband.  As far as the morning spent driving with Lindsay, I think it left Lindsay with something special in the way of a memory, but must have made it even more unbelievable that Kim was really gone.  Lindsay even seemed to be surprised that Kim was being so nice to her.
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gringorn
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Re: Early Chapters

I felt that Fran was acting as a loving mother.  I don't know if any of you saw the interview I am thinking of, but that little girl who disappeared from the hotel in Portugal?  Anyway, her mother in an interview talked about being told in the beginning to stay calm on camera and in interviews and that now, months later, people think she didn't care.  Anyway, Fran followed instructions and used her terror to help her stay active. 
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ELee
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Re: Early Chapters



gringorn wrote:
I felt that Fran was acting as a loving mother.  I don't know if any of you saw the interview I am thinking of, but that little girl who disappeared from the hotel in Portugal?  Anyway, her mother in an interview talked about being told in the beginning to stay calm on camera and in interviews and that now, months later, people think she didn't care.  Anyway, Fran followed instructions and used her terror to help her stay active. 


I was a bit bothered by the fact that the media appearances became so formulized and were altered to create the "proper" reaction in the general public.  While I recognize that there is truth in this portrayal, it does not speak well for us as human beings that we need to be manipulated by the media in order to "feel" a reaction that will hold our interest and prompt participation.  It seemed to become a numbers game, like so many other things in our lives: at once using and denying the personal aspects of this tragedy. 
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Nitestar
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Re: Early Chapters

I think this family is a little dysfunctional - which is no more or less than many, many families out there.  I felt a connection between the parents (although I have wondered myself how I would react in this type of situation).

I know that this book is about a very dark subject, but this book was a very tough read for me in general.  From the very first chapter, I felt as though I was being dragged into a brooding, dark almost inescapable downward spiral - which kind of colored the rest of the story for me.
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reina10
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Re: Early Chapters

I guess i will be the first one to say this. I didn't like the characters in this book. I felt the entire family was living in their own little world until Kim went missing. Kim seem ed a bit too self-centered- even for a typical teenager. Fran and Ed's marriage was obviously suffering, while Kim's relationship with her sister was weak (at best). I would have liked to learn more about Kim, or learned more about the inner thoughts of her family.
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ClaudiaLuce
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Registered: ‎01-31-2008
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Re: Early Chapters

Personally, I liked Mr. Onan's character development and found myself instantly involved with these characters.  I could not put this book down, always wanting to find out what happened next.
 
  I found the Larsens to be typical of a small town family.  Kim's actions, and those of her friends, are very similar to those of the teenagers here in our small town, unfortunately.  With little to do, except "drag main", sex, booze, and drugs have become the entertainments of choice for many of our teens.  Remembering that Kim is 18, graduated from high school, and soon to leave for college, the reluctance of the police force to begin the search immediately is understandable.  Kim is the shining star in the family, always put on a pedestal, expected to do nothing but her best. I found that Fran and Ed's separate ways of dealing with their tensions and griefs completely normal - do any of us react exactly like someone else?
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