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Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Fran



Peppermill wrote:
Thanks to so many of you who so thoughtfully expanded on the bases for your feelings towards Fran.

While I saw her as an "ordinary woman" who got dragged into an extraordinary situation, I never made the jump to seeing her as a "drama queen," although I can see why she, or any other mother who takes on these activities, can easily be perceived that way. To me, in her bewilderment and numbness, she, with the encouragement of her friends and the nature of today's communication media, found herself in a situation where she had to step up to some "established ways" of doing things. She may have had some natural proclivities that made all that seem self-serving. But, I happen to agree with the way our moderator put it: "Her ability to manipulate the media might be seen as too calculated to be the product of grief and desperation and love, but I think it is just that."

Although Fran didn't necessarily "grow" in any spectacular ways, she and Ed did sustain their marriage. I believe that studies show it is quite common for the death of a child, let alone so violent a death, to sunder many families, so I give Fran (and Ed) credit for that.



Everyman wrote:


Peppermill wrote:
Can those of you who say you "dislike Fran" expand on the whys?


Two levels, for me.

One: as a person, she seemed more interested in all the activity she was involved in and being the center of attention -- almost the drama queen -- than in what had actually happened to Kim. I get the feeling that she cared about Kim more because as her mother she was supposed to care for her than she cared for because of who Kim was as a person.

Two: as a character in the book, I didn't see any character development in her. I didn't see her working through the situation to a better understanding of herself, which is what I want to see the main characters in a serious novel doing.




Yes, Peppermill. So they couldn't have been so bad for each other or for parents either if they made it  under all of those circumstances.
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paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Fran

Karen, I think that Fran's character was a little puzzling at first...she wasn't the character I expected to find when we meet her...I thought more of a June Cleaver-like person, but as the story unfolds we definitely see that she is the one wearing the "pants" in the family...in my perception, Fran is the one running the show...She was a do-it-yourself kind of person...she loves to keep up appearances, but once Kim goes missing, her character changes...at first, she tries to show everyone that they are okay, but she started to break down and lean on others...I think that her character develops well, and the stages of shock and grief that she is going through is portrayed well by O'Nan.
 
 
I feel that Fran's strength is that she is a person you can go to in tough situations. She knows how to compartmentalize things, which I feel comes from working in the hospital...is it in hospice? She has to learn to distance herself from patients who may die, and I feel that she tries to do this when they discover that Kim is missing...to be perfectly honest, I have no idea what her weaknesses are right now...
 
I am sure that as we keep reading, my initial perception may change since her character isn't fully developed, imo, as yet...there is still too much to learn for me to solidify my reading of her...
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
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paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Fran

I noticed that many people feel that the family isn't reacting in an "emotional" way when dealing with Kim's disappearance...they feel there isn't enough display of pain or tearful jags...what about the scene where both Ed and Fran come to Lindsay's room and break down? They collapsed on her bed with racking (sp?) sobs and she consoles them in the best way she knows how; by patting them on their backs...was I the only one to notice this display of emotion?
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
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paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Fran

the_mad_chatter wrote: "How can we consider Fran to be a devoted mother when she was so detached from Lindsey?"
 
Is she really detached from Lindsay or is she trying to be strong for her? On p. 23, the scene where she is filling out the paperwork about Kim, many thoughts float through her mind and he fear starts to rise to the surface...but when she looks up, she notices that "Lindsay was watching her, so she gave her a pinched buck-up smile, unconvincingly, she thought, yet Lindsay returned it, and again [she] wanted to protect her from this." I feel that Fran's reaction is typical of someone who wants to shield someone from harm...she tries to act like everything will be okay, but she is falling apart inside...I think this is one area of growth we see in Fran's character...everything is not as it seems...she tries to "paint" a pretty picture to hide all the ugliness underneath...
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
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paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Fran

the_mad_chatter wrote: "The frustrating aspect is that while this family reflects on their lives-they don't fix it to the best of their ability."
 
What exactly is the best way to "fix" it to the best of their ability? I just can't wrap my mind around some of the negative postings about the characters and their lives...can someone expound on their reasons please? I just can't see what you all see, so help me see your side...
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
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paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Fran

streamsong wrote: "But did anyone shed tears over Kim being missing in the first 13 chapters?"
 
Some evidence of emotional reaction in Chapters 1-13:
 
Fran- p. 43: "She wanted to stay and close the folder, turn off the computer, afraid that once she sent Kim into the other world, she'd never get her back."
 
Ed- p. 46: "If he'd known how hard convincing them was going to be, he would have sliced open his own arm and dripped blood across the backyard."
 
Nina's observation- p. 52: "Kim's mom let go of her hold to Hinch, then dabbed at her eyes and nose."
pp. 52-53: "She waved to someone...smiling like a hostess...but Nina thouhgt it was a skill, flying on autopilot..."
 
Fran- p.57: "There was a logical order to their panic, Fran thought. Every failure led to the next step."
pp.57-58: "They'd retreated upstairs to their room for privacy...and for a moment holding him, she could believe they were making progress..."
p.71: paragraph starting with "She was still..." and ending on p.72 with paragraph starting with "Her mother recovered first..."
 
 
 
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
Frequent Contributor
paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Fran

Librarian wrote: "       I agree with those who said different types of people will react differently in tragic situations. I don't see Fran as self-absorbed. I see her as trying to fill her role as best as she knows how. For example, in the Victimology chapter on page 23 we see....."At work she'd filled out these forms from the other side of the desk, documenting the unconscious and unidentified, translating the painful and life-changing into the bloodless acronyms of emergency medicine. As a professional she honored calmness above all, trusting efficiency over emotion. She didn't want to be the hysterical mother, demanding her child be seen immediately, but it felt like they were wasting time. They should be out searching for her."..........her thoughts as they fill out police forms."
 
Librarian, this is a great find...the most important lines to me are "As a professional she honored calmness above all, trusting efficiency over emotion. She didn't want to be the hysterical mother, demanding her child be seen immediately, but it felt like they were wasting time." It definitely gives evidence to the Fran wanted to deal with Kim's disappearance in an "unemotional" way.
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
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paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Fran

kiakar wrote: "I really think we need to read deeper than the words on the page. Has anyone here ever had a child missing?
 
I never have either but it seems  that if it did, I wouldn't have any sense at all about me. I might take a dozen pills or drink for the comfort of it and I do not either one normally. Fran did do this before the missing child incident but it was a greater amount than before. Some people have weaker constitutions than others. Fran, maybe, the pain was so dramatic, she couldn't care for Lindsay as she should.  And maybe taking the sleeping pills, she was trying to drown out the pain and no, she didnt consider her other child. But hey, I am not certain I could act any different. Alot of times this sort of drama will make a person numb and they can go on and later on she did get caught up in the search. And maybe the drugs and wine were lessoned by her involvement in the search. But I feel the empthany for Fran.  I feel a stab at the heart just thinking on this happening to me."
 
Well said kiakar...I am big believer of reading between the lines...that's where all the juicy information is located...a recurring thought in my head as I read the book is that "everything is not as it seems.." I mentioned this in some other posts too...I also feel empathy for Fran...
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
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paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Fran

caseylc wrote: "The Ambien induced sleep and wine made her weak to me and I wanted her strength to be persistant (obviously impossible)."
 
Casey sometimes using sleeping pills is the best way you have to be strong...I suffered from PTSD, and there were many nights I couldn't sleep because of all the thoughts going on in my head...I fell into a major depression as a result of my sleepless nights, so I turned to Ambien...being awake consistently caused me to be weaker, but when I was able to lose myself in sleep for a little while, I found that I was able to face the next day feeling stronger and less scared...maybe taking Ambien enabled her to face the morning feeling like she could face the problem of Kim's disappearance and continue on...
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
Contributor
lady1226
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎01-31-2008
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Re: Fran

You see as a mom I would have been hysterical all the time.  Also, I know Linsay and her were not close, but come on she was your sister.  More reaction was necessary.  At the time Ed seeemed the most frantic.
Marilyn
Correspondent
detailmuse
Posts: 180
Registered: ‎01-24-2008
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Re: Fran

Maybe because they work in the ER, where the focus is on the immediate crisis, not the long-term. The ER triages and stabilizes and then usually sends the patient elsewhere to be "fixed." Kudos to O'Nan, nice symbolism: I think Fran's style in early days of Kim's disappearance was quite ER-like.

the_mad_chatter wrote:
[Fran]'s in the medical field and yet her friends don't suggest therapy?  Disappointing.  


Frequent Contributor
paula_02912
Posts: 492
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Fran

detailmuse wrote: "Maybe because they work in the ER, where the focus is on the immediate crisis, not the long-term. The ER triages and stabilizes and then usually sends the patient elsewhere to be "fixed." Kudos to O'Nan, nice symbolism: I think Fran's style in early days of Kim's disappearance was quite ER-like."
 
detailmuse...this is a nice catch...great close reading of what was going on with Fran...in retrospect, I could definitely see how Fran "triaged" everything in order to deal with it...I think ultimately, she spent a majority of her time doing that throughout the book...especially when forced to become the "media icon..."
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

Author Unknown
Frequent Contributor
the_mad_chatter
Posts: 323
Registered: ‎01-26-2008
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Re: Fran

Ah, nice.  Another example of how O'Nan uses Fran as a metaphor for middle america.  Focusing on the now and not looking at tomorrow.

detailmuse wrote:
Maybe because they work in the ER, where the focus is on the immediate crisis, not the long-term. The ER triages and stabilizes and then usually sends the patient elsewhere to be "fixed." Kudos to O'Nan, nice symbolism: I think Fran's style in early days of Kim's disappearance was quite ER-like.

the_mad_chatter wrote:
[Fran]'s in the medical field and yet her friends don't suggest therapy?  Disappointing.  





Correspondent
detailmuse
Posts: 180
Registered: ‎01-24-2008
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Re: Fran

imo no, not self-absorbed but yes, not providing for the rest of her family. A terrible, difficult situation: the parent is justifiably not able to provide ... yet the kids are justifiably in need of being provided for.
 
I remember outrage during a discussion about such a mother in Jodi Picoult's novel, My Sister's Keeper. Less dramatic, but real-life, is the non-fiction, The Normal One.

bmbrennan wrote:
Let me pose a question here regarding Fran ignoring Lindsay, if Kim had a terminal illness and Fran spent all her time at her bedside and searching computer sites for new technologies/treatments et al in the hopes of finding a cure for her child would we be calling her self-absorbed, only thinking of her terminally ill child and leaving the rest of the family to fend for themselves?

Distinguished Wordsmith
pjpick
Posts: 1,043
Registered: ‎03-16-2007
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Re: Fran

I haven't read all the posts so please forgive me if I'm repeating an observation/opinion.  I think Fran had resigned herself at a much earlier stage than Ed that Kim was gone.  Instead of a search and find effort the search effort would now be a recovery (of the body) effort whereas I think Ed was still frantically hoping to find Kim alive. On page 127 it reads, "She let Lindsay take her place and saw that she still had her book.  Cooper yapped, jealous, It reminded her of a game they played--just  a thing they used to do, a little in-joke.  Ed probably started it. Whenever all of them were clumped together in a small space like the kitchen, the first person to notice would call "Whole family in one room." She hadn't thought about it in those terms--it was probably bad luck--but this was their whole family now."
 
Having said that I also think the search effort became Fran's "vocation"--she was constantly organizing fliers, bracelets, and many other events to get the word out about Kim. I wondered how she would adapt if they found Kim--it just seemed all consuming for her--almost her identity. (should mention here haven't read the whole book yet).
Distinguished Wordsmith
Carmenere_lady
Posts: 529
Registered: ‎11-05-2006
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Re: Who's Mimi?

[ Edited ]

 


Message Edited by Carmenere_lady on 06-08-2008 10:00 PM
Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Fran

Yes, but triage is all about setting priorities, and that is part of what Fran has been accused here of not doing well.

the_mad_chatter wrote:
Ah, nice. Another example of how O'Nan uses Fran as a metaphor for middle america. Focusing on the now and not looking at tomorrow.

detailmuse wrote:
Maybe because they work in the ER, where the focus is on the immediate crisis, not the long-term. The ER triages and stabilizes and then usually sends the patient elsewhere to be "fixed." Kudos to O'Nan, nice symbolism: I think Fran's style in early days of Kim's disappearance was quite ER-like.

the_mad_chatter wrote:
[Fran]'s in the medical field and yet her friends don't suggest therapy? Disappointing.



"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
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Fran


lady1226 wrote {ed.}: You see as a mom I would have been hysterical all the time. Also, I know Lindsay and her were not close, but come on she was your sister. More reaction was necessary. At the time Ed seemed the most frantic.
Marilyn


Marilyn -- Without more evidence from our narrator, I could posit that Fran was also hysterical all the time -- she just had a particular way of playing out her hysteria. Likewise, I think Lindsay has very strong reactions -- they however happen to lead heavily to withdrawal, but that doesn't seem out of character with who she has been before or is afterwards.

We may or may not "like strong emotions", but substantial literature on communications today is suggesting that the ability to identify emotions and feelings and to put them out on the table where they can be discussed and dealt with (rationally?) is very healthy and ultimately much more "non-violent" than "hiding" or denying. We have a language that is rich in its nuances for emotions and feelings, but many of us, if asked, will mask our feelings behind a few words (including the tried and true "tired" ). Yet, the evidence is accumulating that feelings are powerful and well evolved sources of information. (Just this past week, I was startled to encounter the following on a congregational consultant's vugraph among "identifying markers of the postmodern world": "Emotion and intuition are valued as ways of knowing." ) In fact, it seems to me our discussions here have been deeply enriched as people have given voice to their "feelings" as well as their "analysis" of Fran and of SFTM.

These comments are from someone in her most competitive career days struck "felt" from any memo and replaced it with "thought" or other non-emotive language.
"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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hcwhitman
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Fran

I, too, see Fran as a bit self-centered. She is also compulsive. She seems to need a cause because that gives her meaning to her life. When her daughter disappears, she is in a lethargic state in her life. Suddenly, she has a cause that rallies her. This brings her back to life so effectively that she keeps the momentum going by jumping into other causes, as well. This appears to be the key to Fran - find a cause, stay busy organizing and pursuing that cause. She is a person who must be doing something or she deteriorates.
 
The imperfections of this family are so like real life. We all have ideas of what the perfect family is like. Many of us believe that most families have that, all except our own crazy family. This book is full of characters with clay feet, who often do not respond the way we think a book character would. These characters are all too human and, therefore, somewhat unpredictable. They have money problems, relationship problems, blind spots, misunderstandings, hurts, unrelenting grief, and no clue where Kim is. After awhile this lack of knowing becomes understandably wearing, adding to the burden this family is staggering under. And like most of us, none of these characters can see past his/her narcissism most of the time. It is so human to couch all things in relation to ourselves, as the center of our own universes.
 
Where others in the family seem to be falling apart, Fran is energized by the cause, caught up in the organizing and pursuing all avenues to find her daughter. It seems she becomes almost addicted to the adrenaline rush that enables her to accomplish a lot, and she does not want to lose that drive. Where this loss of her daughter seems to weaken her husband and her other daughter, Fran rises to the challenge; for the first time in a long time, Fran has a cause. She grows stronger and more sure of herself as she goes through this process.
Correspondent
detailmuse
Posts: 180
Registered: ‎01-24-2008
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Re: Fran

"middle America" ... please tell me more. When I think of self-indulgence in the now at the expense of the future, I think of Hollywood (personal) and Wall Street (business/finance).

the_mad_chatter wrote:
Ah, nice.  Another example of how O'Nan uses Fran as a metaphor for middle america.  Focusing on the now and not looking at tomorrow.

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