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detailmuse
Posts: 180
Registered: ‎01-24-2008
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Re: Early Chapters

But look at the comments piling up on the other threads!! :smileysurprised: I want to finish the book and get on over there :smileyvery-happy:

sile wrote:
I totally agree with you Jajochu3, I don't want to read spoilers which is why I am following the early chapters thread. 

Jajochku3 wrote:
I know this is supposed to be a book discussion, but I'm having a hard time reading other people's comments. 
 
For starters,  I don't want any spoilers. 
 

Message Edited by Jajochku3 on 06-04-2008 07:40 PM





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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
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Re: Early Chapters


Peppermill wrote:
vivico1 wrote:....To break down doesn't mean you give up hope, or lose control of the situation. Actually they haven't much control of this situation anyway, she is gone and it will play out how it plays out. But the shock and fear brought on by such a thing and thoughts of what might be happening to her is enough to break down the strongest parent to tears and all kinds of extreme emotions, even as they try to do things. There are a lot of characters here that are very close to Kim and none of them have the emotions about this that just really pulls you in by the gut. I don't think its about the different ways different people handle things either. I think its the writing, the author hasn't put it there....

Vivian -- I really agree with you here. I don't know what O'Nan's solution might have been, consistent with his style of writing. However, I started reading Anne Enright's The Gathering the other night and was startled to find her eliciting the from me the visceral emotions of grief (even before I know what is really going on) that I had expected from Songs for the Missing, especially given O'Nan's statement of his objectives.

Although I enjoy O'Nan's detailed and realistic descriptions, at times I wonder at the criteria by which he has selected them for inclusion, or perhaps more accurately, allowed them to remain. That is, how much does O'Nan care that his stage settings serve and enhance his story, with all that is extraneous minimized? Somehow, I feel, given his strength at those descriptions, that a more careful honing of them may have sharpened the emotional impact. Certainly at least some of those descriptions do touch us and heighten the suspense, e.g., the abandoned car on the Interstate with the scrunchy that very first morning. (But why does the swimsuit of the early pages become a bikini only later?)

Oldesq wrote: IMHO Fran's response seems very genuine. I don't think Fran can allow grief because that would be admitting there was something to grieve about-right? And, after all, we know Fran is thinking that this is just some nightmare she is going to wake up from or that whole thing will have some very simple explanation--if she can just cross all the t's and dot the i's. There is too much denial of what might have happened to have grief.

A perspective I hadn't considered, Oldesq. Thanks. Still, as a third person narrator, I wanted O'Nan to touch the feelings under the denial for us.

Message Edited by Peppermill on 06-04-2008 11:44 PM


You are right, he is much better at writing the descriptions of the event and the details than he is about writing about the people and whats going on with them. And not just Fran and Ed and Lindsay, he has other characters too here and they all seem to be pretty much the same. I think he might be better at suspense than at character studies perhaps. This book is suppose to be the feelings behind those that this happens to, not the person taken, but its not there. But when he talks about the details of the event, you at least get interested and it gets a hair suspenseful but then we are back to drudgery. I just don't think this is his forte and yes, given other books we have all read about the characters, we do have a lot to compare with.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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melindaproza
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Re: Early Chapters

[ Edited ]



jb- wrote:
I have read the book twice and still have a lot of questions that are unanswered. None of the relationships or situations were in depth enough to gain an understanding. I think that the author left out a lot of emotions and just skimmed the surface. [edited by moderator]




I completely agree with this opinion. I felt the characters lacked substance and, [edited by moderator].

I'm sure that's what O'Nan wanted, a novel dwelling on the EFFECTS and feelings of Kim's disappearance on her friends and family, but, [edited by moderator].

 

Note from moderator: Again, guys, I have to ask you to NOT reference how you feel about the neding of the book on this thread. This thread is for discussion of Chapter 1 through Chapter 13 ONLY. Thanks in advance for your cooperation in helping me keep this monster of a board organized!



Message Edited by KxBurns on 06-06-2008 01:03 PM
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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
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Re: Early Chapters


Amber_R wrote:






But why write a book about how people in an emotionally charged, really scary and sad situation act daily if you don't include what should be their highly charged emotions? Maybe this is the best way he could write it and as close as he could get inside them himself. I dunno. But keeping the story and us at a distance, is like telling us part of a story that altho intriguing, makes it really, just a story.

And hey! Karen! I own that "the dingo ate me baby!" movie! hehe, and what was important in that movie was their emotional reactions. It had a lot to do with why she was convicted and it was a true story. The thing about these kinds of stories, in real life, about the people around the victims, is how they react, how they feel, their emotions, are they real, are they faked. How many times have people become the major suspect in real life because of how little they reacted? If that's really the case, I would suspect everyone in this book!

But not every family would act with such emotion in these situations, which is what I like about O'Nan. He's taking the road less traveled point of view with this story. I used to volunteer as a victim advocate and I'd have to go talk to people who had horrible things happen to them, or the people around them, and the emotions were across the board. I only had one family that was the overwrought with emotion kind that some readers of this book are looking for. More families were much more like this one. In a state of shock and what do we do now kind of attitude. Just looking for answers and to be told what to do, or expect, next. This seemed much more real to me. I think if he had written it with more emotion, as has been stated before, I wouldn't find it as believable. It might come off more fake to me - like he was trying to pull at my heartstrings. This was written in a way that I felt I could definitely see happening.




But see, I again, am not saying make everyone break down and cry insanely. And yessss, not every family handles things the same, thats a given. But its not just the family, its her friends, its all the characters. They all act pretty much the same. What I am saying is, however they handle it, if this is a character story about them, then tell me what is going on inside them. It doesnt have to be all meltdown emotional, but this is more bout what they do than what they feel. Even if they each feel differently, then tell me about it, get me inside them, why they feel and act the way they do. Don't just report it to me, let me feel something from it. The book does not move me. I can sit and think about the event and what if it happened in my family, how would I feel, and that may move me, but its not my story and I can't get into their story cause he isnt going there.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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kiakar
Posts: 3,435
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Re: Early Chapters

I do not know if I can properly tell what I feel at this moment about the writing of this book. But I will try.
I will admit, I have never read any of this author's books. And too, I will admit, he does really write different from other authors. Especially concerning this type of story. But maybe he knows that. Maybe he is not telling the extent of their grief but what happened and how the life of a typical middle class family lived. And what they did when this happened to them. They lived on the edge, but not over it and they didnt go over it when this happened to them.  I have been in the room with very sick family members, and there is this dread, or fear or heart ache that they are suffering and they are so sad to be sick, but is this your feeling or theirs.  Do they really feel this bad? Are you feeling worse than they are really feeling? I have asked people that I really care about after they have recovered or gotten better and they say, no, it wasnt that painful, and it wasnt so bad, you were there with me.  So maybe the author is just not getting into what we perceive the family is feeling. And Maybe you are just too numb to feel much of anything at first,when this happens to you. I really can't know, because I have never had it happen to me. But it seems, at first the numbness has to settle in first, to get you through it.  I like stories where the emotions are shown. And alot of others here on this read have said they do too. But do you think this is just another approach that tells  a tragic story.? I am not saying I think so, I am just asking. For the moment, I do not know what I truly think. I will wait for the author to give his opinion.
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budrfly9
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Registered: ‎04-23-2008
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Re: Early Chapters

The early chapters of this book are great reading, although slightly distracting.  I find myself wanting to rush through them because they are so normal whilst the situation is anything but. 
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HannibalCat
Posts: 238
Registered: ‎10-25-2006
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Re: Early Chapters



bookloverjb85 wrote:
I would have to be another person who agrees that this family is not dysfunctional, just "normal". There are two parents who obviously work hard for what they have and two daughters who are in their teens and don't necessarily want to be around each other. I can understand Kim being annoyed by having to take her sister driving instead of going to hang out with her friends. These are "typical" problems that a family would have and teenagers do lie to their parents about what is going on in their lives, wanting it to be private.

So far I believe that O'Nan has given us a good perspective on how everyone feels about Kim missing and I think that we will hopefully see how it all comes together in the end.




I have an older sister, 18 months older, and we were not playmates after we got into junior high school. So as a senior, I was not privy to her or her friends, nor was I part of her circle. But she did help me with my driving lessons. I found the DQ scene to be dead on. We had our moments together as well as our MOMENTS. Now, as older women, we are best friends. I think what we are seeing with Kim and Lindsey is exactly true to life. Maybe not everyone's life, but still true.

I am stunned by O'Nan's writing. What a great talent. Although I agree the emotion in his writing is limited, it is nonetheless fantastic writing.
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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Early Chapters

Vivian -- my guess is that O'Nan thinks actions are windows into feelings, i.e., that the feelings or emotions are obvious from the actions. I think we are denying that there is necessarily a one-to-one relationship and want O'Nan to tell us the emotions and feelings that underlie the actions of his characters. Am I fair in describing the problem this way? (I spent a good share of my life (although certainly not all of it) intuiting my spouse's feelings based on what he did, so I recognize this mode of communication.)

Let me put the problem another way -- I want to know whether Ed and Fran have the same emotions. Are those emotions numbness, fear, panic, denial of fear, hope, ....? How do those emotions collide with each other or are they basically in sync? (Personally, I felt as if Ed and Fran's emotions tended to be in sync or to compliment each other, and that was usually one of the "good places" of their relationship -- at least on core issues. But O'Nan gives us more of the relationship of their emotions to each other than he gives us of the feelings themselves. We may guess that Ed goes alone to spare Fran the possibility of locating Kim's body. But with an omniscient narrator, it would be nice to "know" that, rather than possibly projecting what we guess our own reactions would be. We may guess Ed's fear and panic by his going out and driving the Interstate the next morning, but are we correct?)



vivico1 wrote {ed.}:
...But see, I again, am not saying make everyone break down and cry insanely. And yessss, not every family handles things the same, thats a given. But its not just the family, its her friends, its all the characters. They all act pretty much the same. What I am saying is, however they handle it, if this is a character story about them, then tell me what is going on inside them. It doesn't have to be all meltdown emotional, but this is more bout what they do than what they feel. Even if they each feel differently, then tell me about it, get me inside them, why they feel and act the way they do. Don't just report it to me, let me feel something from it. The book does not move me. I can sit and think about the event and what if it happened in my family, how would I feel, and that may move me, but its not my story and I can't get into their story cause he isn't going there.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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krb2g
Posts: 289
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Modern touches



pigwidgeon wrote:
Is anyone else put off by the recurring references to modern day "things". I understand that Mr. O'Nan is surely trying to present a realistic story in the present time, but all of the mentions of ipods, IMing, and other popular current time items or actions (like the band Cake, for example) feel so strange to me. They seem to stick out in the writing like flags - This is current time, you know! - Hey you, modern day here! I wonder if this book will feel dated in 10 or 20 years. Will people still know who Cake is? I wonder if anyone who wasn't a teen, or (ahem) twentysomething, in the '90s does (that was sort of for effect, I'm sure many non-generation X or Y-ers will know them, though in my opinion, they were a one hit wonder). As I said, I think I understand the reasoning for it, but they just seem out of place to me. What about any of you? Too much?




These references did not bother me: I think there is enough context to clarify what some of the brand names are. Lots of my favorite books are "dated" like this one--think of all the notes in the back of an Oxford edition of Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë, for example. Many of these authors also quote the books that were in vogue when they were writing (for example, Pilgrim's Progress, a book that was hugely popular for hundreds of years but isn't today: there's a whole scene in Little Women built around Pilgrim's Progress, but not having read the latter the first time I read Alcott did not necessarily diminish my pleasure in the book). Perhaps the brand names are a bit more intrusive now due to the increase of consumer culture, but most people today aren't going to know types of carriages or dances off the tops of their heads. These details helped make the book more concrete for me.
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vivico1
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Re: Early Chapters


Peppermill wrote: Vivian -- my guess is that O'Nan thinks actions are windows into feelings, i.e., that the feelings or emotions are obvious from the actions. I think we are denying that there is necessarily a one-to-one relationship and want O'Nan to tell us the emotions and feelings that underlie the actions of his characters. Am I fair in describing the problem this way? (I spent a good share of my life (although certainly not all of it) intuiting my spouse's feelings based on what he did, so I recognize this mode of communication.) Let me put the problem another way -- I want to know whether Ed and Fran have the same emotions. Are those emotions numbness, fear, panic, denial of fear, hope, ....? How do those emotions collide with each other or are they basically in sync? (Personally, I felt as if Ed and Fran's emotions tended to be in sync or to compliment each other, and that was usually one of the "good places" of their relationship -- at least on core issues. But O'Nan gives us more of the relationship of their emotions to each other than he gives us of the feelings themselves. We may guess that Ed goes alone to spare Fran the possibility of locating Kim's body. But with an omniscient narrator, it would be nice to "know" that, rather than possibly projecting what we guess our own reactions would be. We may guess Ed's fear and panic by his going out and driving the Interstate the next morning, but are we correct?)

vivico1 wrote {ed.}: ...But see, I again, am not saying make everyone break down and cry insanely. And yessss, not every family handles things the same, thats a given. But its not just the family, its her friends, its all the characters. They all act pretty much the same. What I am saying is, however they handle it, if this is a character story about them, then tell me what is going on inside them. It doesn't have to be all meltdown emotional, but this is more bout what they do than what they feel. Even if they each feel differently, then tell me about it, get me inside them, why they feel and act the way they do. Don't just report it to me, let me feel something from it. The book does not move me. I can sit and think about the event and what if it happened in my family, how would I feel, and that may move me, but its not my story and I can't get into their story cause he isn't going there.

During a time of crisis, actions often belie our true feelings. Thats why there are so many that say, this story was emotionially done and so many who say it is not. We can infer from their actions that there is worry, fear, anxiety, feelings of uselessness or usefulness but we can infer that from reading this account in a newspaper written by a journelist saying, "Fran, the distraught mother, has been busy organizing search groups and flyers and news media, trying to cope with this aweful event. Ed, her husband, unable to think of anything but finding his young daughter, has been out every day hunting every inch of ground for clues, hoping to find Kim and yet hoping not to find her in the tall grasses or river." Now, this tells us a lot about their actions and infers something of their feelings and THIS is how it feels it is written to me. I want to know what they are thinking as they do these things, get inside someone's head. What an enormous gift a writer has to when they can put us inside someone in the story, feel and think it from the inside out. When or where else can that happen but in writing? Show me from the inside,what this is like or its not much more than the above news item. This is where it falls flat for me.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Lady_Graeye
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Re: Modern touches

How would you describe their initial reactions? My first reactions to the book was that I had the feeling I had missed something. I reread chapters thinking I had missed something. I guess what I am trying to say was that I wanted more, more info...I felt like I was left hanging. I knew her friends knew more but weren't saying, their reason were maybe because they could have stop it from happening or felt they maybe were a part and could be blamed?

What scenes, moments, or exchanges struck you as meaningful? As most have been saying, the scene between the two sisters was quite touching. It might have been just because Kim knew she would be leaving soon leaving Lindsay home and they wouldn't have much time together or that things change between siblings when one goes away leaving the other behind. Or it is a little precusor used by the author telling us something was about to happen and life for Lindsay would never be the same???

How would you characterize Kim's home life and her social life? Kim is a typical teenage... a little ansy for her senior year to be over, graduation, college. She spends little time at home, her friends understand her more than her parents. She a little bit good girl ( has the responsibility of having a job while in school) and yet a little bad ( being a slight bit naughty with her boyfriend J.P.and maybe having a few habits Nina and J.P. know about.) I think Kim is closer to her mother or her mother favors her more than she does Lindsay ( when we see Fran asking Ed to get Lindsay to help with the flyers.)

Does our impression of Kim from the first chapter change as we begin to see her through the eyes of friends and family? How does their view of Kim change over the course of these early chapters? I believe so, we see her as a good girl being at work, having a tender moment with her sister, then her disapperance. We know her friends are hiding things from her parents and the police which leads one to believe Kim has a "Bad Girl" side to her maybe more than we will know for awhile until the book prevails itself.
"You Can Never Own Too Many Books; It's Just Not Possible!!!"
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Sdf1966
Posts: 14
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Re: Early Chapters

I have to agree with you 100%.  I have been setting here trying to decide how to voice my opinion when it comes to this book.  I think that the writing is different than most books I have read.  I kept wondering while I was reading where is the emotion, but I am like you I have never been in this situation so I don't know how I would feel.  I know that in the classes that I am taking in college for my CVSS (crime victim survival services) degree takes about the numbness that people go through before the reality of the situation sets in.  I also think that everyone handles this kind of situation differently.  I am not saying that I didn't like the book I am saying that I would also like more emotion.
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tgem
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Re: Early Chapters, Smoking, Drinking, Drugs

There has been some discussion of whether or not the smoking, drinking and drug use of the teens in the book is average.  While I think statistics tend to be less than the real numbers, I think the connection between smoking cigarettes, drinking and drug use in this article is interesting.  Click here if interested.
 
tgem
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.adolescent-substance-abuse.com/cigs-alcohol-drugs.html

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pheath
Posts: 82
Registered: ‎02-01-2007
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Re: Narrator



pigwidgeon wrote:
Is anyone else put off by the recurring references to modern day "things". I understand that Mr. O'Nan is surely trying to present a realistic story in the present time, but all of the mentions of ipods, IMing, and other popular current time items or actions (like the band Cake, for example) feel so strange to me. They seem to stick out in the writing like flags - This is current time, you know! - Hey you, modern day here! I wonder if this book will feel dated in 10 or 20 years. Will people still know who Cake is? I wonder if anyone who wasn't a teen, or (ahem) twentysomething, in the '90s does (that was sort of for effect, I'm sure many non-generation X or Y-ers will know them, though in my opinion, they were a one hit wonder). As I said, I think I understand the reasoning for it, but they just seem out of place to me. What about any of you? Too much?




I thought it was appropriate because we are given a clear timeline of when the story takes place. These aspects of the book will serve almost like a time capsule.
-Philip
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Amber_R
Posts: 15
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Re: Narrator

[ Edited ]


pigwidgeon wrote:
Is anyone else put off by the recurring references to modern day "things". I understand that Mr. O'Nan is surely trying to present a realistic story in the present time, but all of the mentions of ipods, IMing, and other popular current time items or actions (like the band Cake, for example) feel so strange to me. They seem to stick out in the writing like flags - This is current time, you know! - Hey you, modern day here! I wonder if this book will feel dated in 10 or 20 years. Will people still know who Cake is? I wonder if anyone who wasn't a teen, or (ahem) twentysomething, in the '90s does (that was sort of for effect, I'm sure many non-generation X or Y-ers will know them, though in my opinion, they were a one hit wonder). As I said, I think I understand the reasoning for it, but they just seem out of place to me. What about any of you? Too much?

I agree with you. I find it throws me off a bit. But like an earlier comment stated. Most authors date themselves by referencing objects from popular culture like Jane Austen, etc. I guess I'm just not used to authors of our time doing this yet.


Message Edited by Amber_R on 06-05-2008 08:18 PM
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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Early Chapters

at times i would go from one page to another and then turn back thinking i had skipped a page or that a page had been inadvertently left out. at one point i actually thought as much as a chapter might have been forgotten! although they are hinted at, several issues in the book are never explored fully. i, too, was left with many unanswered questions.
twj


jb- wrote:
I have read the book twice and still have a lot of questions that are unanswered. None of the relationships or situations were in depth enough to gain an understanding. I think that the author left out a lot of emotions and just skimmed the surface. As far as what actually happened to Kim, I feel that it was not conclusive enough.
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wendyroba
Posts: 58
Registered: ‎02-21-2007
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Re: Early Chapters

I was pulled immediately into this story - Kim's disappearance and the normalcy of her life rung true to me...and the initial investigation as well. I volunteer in Search and Rescue, and I thought O'Nan nailed the specifics of what happens when someone (especially a teenager) goes missing.

I have to admit to having no early clues as to what had happened to Kim - the friends garner some suspicion, but I never really considered them to be responsible for her disappearance.

I loved the part which shows Kim's relationship to her sister - so real and heartwarming in its authenticity.
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ROCKETRAY55
Posts: 91
Registered: ‎09-28-2007
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Re: Early Chapters



melindaproza wrote:


jb- wrote:
I have read the book twice and still have a lot of questions that are unanswered. None of the relationships or situations were in depth enough to gain an understanding. I think that the author left out a lot of emotions and just skimmed the surface. As far as what actually happened to Kim, I feel that it was not conclusive enough.





jb- wrote:
I have read the book twice and still have a lot of questions that are unanswered. None of the relationships or situations were in depth enough to gain an understanding. I think that the author left out a lot of emotions and just skimmed the surface. As far as what actually happened to Kim, I feel that it was not conclusive enough.





I completely agree with this opinion. I felt the characters lacked substance and, I felt the information regarding Kim's disappearance and what ultimately happened to her were barely touched upon.

I'm sure that's what O'Nan wanted, a novel dwelling on the EFFECTS and feelings of Kim's disappearance on her friends and family, but, I still would have liked to have seen more written about what actually happened to her.

I agree with the posts above. I liked the book, but felt I was missing something. The book is very matter of fact, Kind of a day in the life of..... No real character building.
 
-Ray
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Plumberswife
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters

I thought the responses to Kim's disappearance were appropriate. I thought her friends were typical teenagers in their "stick togetherness". I wish that they hadn't been so "together" in what they told police and the family about their friend. Although there was no true connection between their secret and what happened to Kim, being forthcoming withall information could have helped the family in some way and may not have alienated them from each other at such a difficult time.
I did not feel that there was any real clue to the mystery of Kim's disappearance, but I did think that she could have just ran away at first.
I felt that The Larsen Family was a typical family of four with two incomes and two teenagers. It was interesting that there was such a rift between Mom and Kim; I would have liked to have had more backround on that.
It was good to see glimpses of the relationships between family members who truely cared for one another. They dealt with the stress and uncertianty very well. I did think it was odd that they family had no real connection to Kim's friends or their families though.
My impression of Kim in the first chapters haven't changed as I continue on in the book. As a matter of fact, I saw myself as a teenager in her. I am the older sister with a younger sister. We had a two parent, two income household and I too hung out on rocks at a swimming hole.
 
Plmbrswife
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jlcardwell
Posts: 6
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Re: Early Chapters



Jajochku3 wrote:
I know this is supposed to be a book discussion, but I'm having a hard time reading other people's comments.
For starters, I don't want any spoilers.
I can't say this is the best book I've ever read, but I'm enjoying that it hasn't been overly dramatic. And as one of the few comments I read said, the family didn't appear that close. That doesn't bother me at all. There was a period of time (around Kim's age) that I wasn't all that close to my family. It seemed just right that she was distant, as most young people that age are just wanting to get out 'on their own'.
I find myself wanting to skip ahead to find out if they ever find Kim or ever have any answers. Part of me, wants them to find out. Part of me, wants it to be a mystery. It wouldn't be entirely satisfying to end it with no answers, but that's how so many true missing people cases end up.
And to comment on the no grief part. . .
Well, there is a time to be strong and a time to break down.
The family needs to be strong and do what needs done. Until they know there is something to really break down about, they need to be as strong as possible to help Kim. I think the few tears is adequate.


Message Edited by Jajochku3 on 06-04-2008 07:40 PM




I agree with your assessment of the book almost word-for-word so far (other than the fact I don't think I would like it if they didn't find out what happened). It doesn't seem to me that Fran 'isn't grieving' properly, as some people have said. She's so in shock, particularly at the beginning, that she can't even break down. Besides, as you said, she can't let herself break down yet, because she still has hope of finding Kim. I suspect I would react to something like that in much the same way.
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