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GMorrison
Posts: 62
Registered: ‎12-20-2007
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Re: Early Chapters



Everyman wrote:
At the same time, the police reaction was perfectly understandable. Most times when a teen aged girl from (as someone noted above) a mildly dysfunctional family giving inadequate attention to the daughter goes missing, it's because she has chosen to go off somewhere with a guy or to a big city or for some other reason of her own volition. it's perfectly reasonable for the police not to assume the worst right away.

And also, given the record of dysfunctional families, it's also entirely appropriate for them to wonder whether one or both of the parents had something to do with it.

I find the description of the official response to be very believable.

crimefighter4444 wrote:
i think the nonchalant attitude of the police and the anguish it caused was the setting for the entire path of the story. the author set this trend brilliantly.







The interesting thing here is that the police did take Kim's disappearance very seriously. They deposed the family and then friends to make certain no one was hiding information on her whereabouts. They were instrumental in organizing the search parties and liaisoning with those involved in the search. Where O'Nan strikes gold is in his portrayal of two anguished parents for whom the police's efforts will never be enough until their daughter is returned to them. The police's actions (search dogs are pointless unless you know where to pick up Kim's scent) are eminently reasonable, but of course they would not seem that way to a grieving, terrified, and frustrated parent.
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catmom50
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Registered: ‎04-11-2008
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Re: Early Chapters

I thoroughly am enjoying this book. I'm not done yet, still in the "early chapters".
I must say however, that the things Stewart O'Nan writes about are so real, it feels as though he has lived this and is writing his own truthful story.
So many things remind me of being young, naive and full of fun.
JP is an interesting person, how trustworthy he is is yet for me to find out. The rest of the people in this book are also so realsitic. It is like reading one's personal diary.
I can't wait to read more of his books, if this is a sample of how he writes.
 
Margie in Beautiful Central Oregon
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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters


tt4now87 wrote:
I really liked that each chapter was from one character's perspective. I felt like I was able to get to know each character.
The family seemed like they really weren't connecting with each other at the time of the disappearance, but still knew Kim enough to know exactly what she must have been wearing and if anything was missing or out of place in her room.
The secret between the friends had me hooked. I was suspicious at first of J.P. and then of Nina, but never really of Hinch. I guess I was looking for the least obvious person to be involved.



What? Hinch, the secret? He is involved in this? OK, dont answer that, I dont really want to know.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Early Chapters


 

 

so far, i think the characters have been well developed and the story line, while a difficult subject matter, is well written and easy to read.
i thought that the mother's reactions and emotions, like the young teenage friend's reactions, were responses to peer pressure, coupled with a somewhat misguided sense of loyalty and responsibility.
i was struck by the fact that this same peer pressure, i think of as negative, which often weakens us, blurring our thoughts and responses and influencing sometimes uninformed decisions, is at the same time often positive, giving us the added strength to continue and go forward in the face of tremendous fear, hardship and emotional pain.
i wonder if we are simply unable to respond in any other way regardless of our situation or of our age or of our place in life, because, instinctively, almost as a reflex, we respond protectively to pressures from within and without, often keeping secrets from each other that would be better served, if told, in order to do what we think is expected of us.
twj
 
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BookWoman718
Posts: 220
Registered: ‎01-28-2007
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Re: Early Chapters

One of the reasons these early chapters feel so ‘real’ to us is that we have all seen similar situations played out - endlessly - on cable TV news shows. There is now an acknowledged ‘formula’ for keeping your family’s tragedy in the headlines, above all the other tragedies that the news channels could choose to follow. The restrained but clearly grieving mother. The volunteers, the posters, the candlelight vigils. It’s meant to break your heart - the emotional grab - but at the same time mobilize you to keep the missing person’s face in mind, to watch for certain vehicles, to call in with any tiny bit of information you may come across.

I found the behavior of the police frustrating but completely understandable. Much as we understand how woefully unprepared the average 18 year old is to take on the mantle of full adulthood, the fact is that they are recognized as such and entitled to treatment as an adult. They can vote, they can marry, they can enter into contracts and yes, they can decide to take off and not let anyone know where they are. It’s called privacy, and as a nation we’ve fought very hard to maintain that right. It’s sometimes a shock for the parents who pay the bills to be denied access to their college student’s grades, or to her medical records, but that’s the way it is.

I had read a couple of Stewart O’Nan’s books in the past and enjoyed his writing, if not always the subject matter. He does delve into the darker side of things. But I agree with the previous poster who suggested that O’Nan is the best writer we’ve had access to through First Look. He is very skilled at developing believable characters, drawing a sense of place, and plotting a story that draws the reader in. I was engrossed enough that I went ahead and finished the book although I had intended to pace my reading to the discussion boards this time.

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tgem
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Registered: ‎08-06-2007
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Re: Early Chapters

This author is new to me, and the subject matter - the story of a missing daughter, is not one I would actively seek out.  Having a daughter near the age of Kim, it brings out my fears and anxieties.  When my daughter was in high school, there was no way I could sleep until she got home.  But that summer before college,  I would sleep, waking only slightly when she got home. It was either sheer exhaustion, at having parented for 28 years at the time, or a practice at letting go.
 
The first chapter, Description of the Person, Last Seen, draws me in.  I'm impressed that the author is able to give the reader a distinct portrait of Kim, and her life with family and friends at a transitional time, within fifteen pages.  To me, the dialogue kept the chapter moving swiftly.
 
 Kim's dissatisfaction with small town life really hits home too. I remember despising the suburb I grew up in - restless and hurried to leave it.  My daughter continually expressed her frustration with small town life.  When we're young, the grass always seems greener....
 
Could Kim's dissatisfaction have anything to do with her disappearance?  And - she may live in a small town, but she works somewhere that would expose her to many people.  But to go missing within such a short time frame, in such familiar territory?  Maddening. 
 
tgem
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lross38
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Registered: ‎04-19-2008
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Re: Early Chapters


BookWoman718 wrote:

One of the reasons these early chapters feel so ‘real’ to us is that we have all seen similar situations played out - endlessly - on cable TV news shows. There is now an acknowledged ‘formula’ for keeping your family’s tragedy in the headlines, above all the other tragedies that the news channels could choose to follow. The restrained but clearly grieving mother. The volunteers, the posters, the candlelight vigils. It’s meant to break your heart - the emotional grab - but at the same time mobilize you to keep the missing person’s face in mind, to watch for certain vehicles, to call in with any tiny bit of information you may come across.



I am impressed with how much O'Nan has made me feel immersed in this novel. I agree that part of it is because the mere idea of a loved one going missing is something that terrifies everyone because it is so played out in the media. We can imagine how awful it would be and we identify with the possibility of it. O'Nan uses that common fear and empathy that we feel and heightens it by his prose. You experience the sights and sounds of your everyday life that are normally unnoticed in the background. As anyone that has experienced a life changing event knows, your world does suddenly become more vivid. I think O'Nan's writing does a wonderful job of setting up very realistic characters that we can identify with. I love that not only is a picture of the narrative created, it's as if there is a soundtrack as well. Maybe that's what the title means? ....nah probably not. :smileyhappy:

The only thing I would have liked to be different, is to have each perspective chapter labeled by the character's name at the start. That was slightly confusing to me but not enough to be a problem.

I think the characters' home and social lives are very typical and "normal". Teens keep things from their parents. Even very well behaved and "respectable" teenagers are exposed to drugs, alcohol and sex on a daily basis in most of the US. Some get bogged down in stuff while others are able to navigate through it. The same applies to the adults. Are they dysfunctional? I don't know of ANY family that could completely avoid that label.
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MSaff
Posts: 272
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters

Mr. O'Nan captured my attention at the beginning of this story. It feels real and it feels honest. As I think I have a clue, I want to pass it on to the characters in the book. That is the point, isn't it? Get the reader involved. Like so many others, I thought the driving lesson scene between Kim and Lindsey was well written and showed a relationship there. Ed and Fran seem to be doing a lot of the things I would expect parents to do, like worry, search, and hover.
Mike
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss
http://travelswithcarsandbooks.blogspot.com/
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martinaf
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Registered: ‎04-13-2008
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Re: Early Chapters

I agree that the early chapters showed pretty much typical teenagers and their side of the story. It brought back memories of what you did tell your parents and what you did not, even if you were a "good" kid. Of course, they had secrets and "hid" them from their parents. It's all part of leaving the nest, of going off to college.
 
I thought the book did a great job bringing out the uncertainty of those ealry hours after a disappearance - you don't have any information, so you are just grasping at straws and trying to understand what was going on. Anybody whos teenager has ever broken their curfew perfectly understands what is going on - as a mother /father you cycle between anger and despair and your mind tries tocome up with a solution.
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Jo6353
Posts: 683
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters



martinaf wrote:
Anybody whos teenager has ever broken their curfew perfectly understands what is going on - as a mother /father you cycle between anger and despair and your mind tries tocome up with a solution.



Having raised 5 children, I remember those feelings of OMG, what if something serious happened to them, immediately followed by when they get home I'm going to kill them! Jo
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nhawkinsII
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters

It is my opinion Stuart O'Nan tells us a story weaving the actions of each character around Kim's disappearance...He leaves it to the reader to bring his or her logic, emotions and intuition as the story unfolds.
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streamsong
Posts: 118
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters

I'm enjoying both the book and everyone's comments.
 
Although I wouldn't call the family dysfunctional, there are strong warning signs that things aren't optimal in it either. They seem to me a family with problems, but they are working at covering them up and putting a good face on things for those outside the family.--re Ed's family motto that 'Reputation is all you have.' Fran & Ed's marriage shows signs of strain. Fran is unhappy and 'putting away a bottle of wine every night'. No one sees that Lindsay is desparately unhappy playing softball. On the first page, Kim is identified as 'the good daughter'. Yet she is involved with activities that are risky--sex, smoking, drinking and drugs.
 
Fran was aware that the drug experimentation was  probably happening, but she would rather not ask Kim, not bring it into the light and know for sure. It's an issue that would be hard to gloss over if she knew the truth, so she doesn't ask.
 
I see a lot of emotional disconnection in these first chapters. Lindsay isolates herself in her room. Ed keeps busy and throws himself into the search. Fran organizes the posters. Kim's friends help (but they are worried whether this will bring their own secrets to light).
 
In the Fran thread, I asked whether <b><i>anyone</i></b> cried for Kim in this first section. I rescanned the chapters after posting and found a few tears. Fran dabs at her eyes when she first talks to Nina. That night the family shares a group hug and a few tears. And yet, I feel the emotion is missing. I can see someone asking "How are Fran and Ed holding up?" and someone else replying--"They are amazing. Look at all they are doing!" 
 
No one breaks down. And yet if you don't break down when your daughter/sister/best friend has disappeared and you fear, as Fran says her first impression is, that 'someone has taken her', when do you break down?
 
A crises breaks some families apart and pulls other families together. It will be interesting to see whether this crises makes this family more emotionally honest and connected or if it leaves them shattered.
 
 
 
 
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Amber_R
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Registered: ‎04-14-2008
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Re: Early Chapters


What did you think of the early chapters of the book (Chapter 1 through Chapter 13)? I really liked how realistic they were, which made the reading go fast.
 
These opening chapters deal primarily with the response of Kim's family and friends to her disappearance. How would you describe their initial reactions? I was frustrated with Kim's friends because they kept stalling in giving any information to the police, which I don't think they realized at the time how important it was to give as much information to the authorities as possible when someone is missing. I thought her parents response was appropriate and although they didn't know their daughter as well as they thought, they knew in their gut that something was not right and tried to get everyone else to realize that as well. I was frustrated with them on the law regarding age, because that really is a gray area in maturity level and choices. O'Nan is really good at making these situations as real to life as possible. I could definitely see this same response from any community. And the sisters response was so true to life in the sense that she's concerned about her older sister, she's also jealous of having lived in her shadow, but she's also not sure initially of whether or not Kim is doing this as some kind of prank.
What scenes, moments, or exchanges struck you as meaningful? I was touched by how Kim's dad left the light on for her when she was out late at night, and how when she didn't come home, instead of thinking that she was still out with friends, he knew that something was wrong. I thought O'Nan was showing us, that Kim, with all her faults, was not the kind of girl who did not come home at night and her parents knew that.
 
Are there any clues to Kim's whereabouts in the first chapter, in your opinion? How would you characterize Kim's home life and her social life? I don't think there were any clues, but I definitely think that Kim had a sense of foreboding (or maybe that was just me:smileyhappy:) throughout the chapter. Something just felt off with her. She took more time to do things, and take care of her responsibilities. I think her home life was that of both parents were probably not as attentive to their daughters lives as the could have been, and there was rivalry between the sisters. But I think there was love in that home, which counterbalanced some of that. I think her social life was hanging out with shallow friends who get drunk and possibly do drugs. I think her social life was more toxic.
 
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 think we start to see that she's not as perfect as her sister perceives her to be and she's not as much of the good girl or loving girlfriend we may have thought her to be. But, I like that O'Nan shows with the investigation that under the microscope, who would be? I think my view of Kim changed in the sense that she became more of a person and not so much just a stereotypical character. She has more depth with every new thing we learn about her, which makes me wonder what happened to her even more.
 

All in all - good read so far.
 
 

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fordmg
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters



KxBurns wrote:


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.


I think Fran's reaction is typical of a mother.  Some I know would break down and become dysfunctional, Fran on the other hand reacted by going in to action.  She used all the activity as a coping mechanism.  Otherwise Frank would have lost her sanity.  That would have help no one, least of all her family.
MG
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fordmg
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Re: Early Chapters



sile 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 agree with you.  I don't see them as dysfunctional, although I am not sure Mom is as intune with the girls as she thinks she is.


Mom's never are.  They are seeing their children through their own upbringing and ideas.  The generations change.  But the effort is good.  Children are very adept at keeping secrets from their parents. 
MG
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Maria_H
Posts: 791
Registered: ‎07-19-2007
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Re: Early Chapters

I may be alone in this, but I was pleased that there are no scenes of utter melodrama. Of tears and sobs and shrieks and drool (you get the picture).

In general, some people steel themselves against breakdown by focusing on the task at hand.

In the story, the most important thing was to find Kim. To break down would be admitting that there is no hope and to lose control of the situation.

Besides, who's to say that they did not shed more tears than we saw? If they did, I am grateful that is was kept private. Far too many public displays of grief nowadays!


streamsong wrote:
In the Fran thread, I asked whether anyone cried for Kim in this first section. I rescanned the chapters after posting and found a few tears. Fran dabs at her eyes when she first talks to Nina. That night the family shares a group hug and a few tears. And yet, I feel the emotion is missing. I can see someone asking "How are Fran and Ed holding up?" and someone else replying--"They are amazing. Look at all they are doing!"
No one breaks down. And yet if you don't break down when your daughter/sister/best friend has disappeared and you fear, as Fran says her first impression is, that 'someone has taken her', when do you break down?
A crises breaks some families apart and pulls other families together. It will be interesting to see whether this crises makes this family more emotionally honest and connected or if it leaves them shattered.




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dhaupt
Posts: 11,843
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters


darma51 wrote:
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.




not only false hope but I think in the beginning the local police saw this not as a crime but as a runaway.
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fordmg
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters



Turner_A wrote:
How do you describe their initial reactions?
I think that Lindsey did not know how to feel. I feel like Lindsey did not want to go out of her way with helping her mom and/or dad because it may make her realize that Kim really is missing.
 
 
 
A. Turner :smileyhappy:


I think Lindsey wanted to go out and help the search, but her parents wouldn't let her.  Since she couldn't do what she felt was most effective, she just stayed out of the way of her parents and went to her room.  It didn't seem like she really enjoyed reading all the time, she just didn't feel there were any other options.
MG
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ELee
Posts: 418
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Early Chapters



ladychatterly wrote:
 
The relationship between Fran and Ed comes across as disconnected, there is a lack of real communication between them, as though they've been doing their own thing for a long time.


I agree.  Fran and Ed are "going through the motions".  They have formed a pattern for their lives and settled into a habituated existence with each other.  They are disconnected physically and emotionally, only maintaining the outward appearance of a relationship.  And they both think they are "getting away with it" because neither one says anything. 
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dhaupt
Posts: 11,843
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters


reina10 wrote:
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.




I found the family image very true to having 2 teenagers in the house and both parents working. My daughter at that age was very self centered and has only in her late twenties come to value my opinions on things. And I don't see where the marriage was suffering either, I see this family thrown into waters that none of us could possibly understand unless we went through this kind of trauma. And I find it a testament to them that they stayed together through all of this.
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