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bentley
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Re: Fran (Chapter One - Description of the Person, When Last Seen)


kiakar wrote:


BookWoman718 wrote:

book hunter wrote:

Ouch, ouch, bentley! You and many others are making me feel like I need to come to Fran's defense. I found a lot in common with her. It is very hard for me to transition from being the MOM all the time to being the mom of these young women that have suddenly appeared in my house. (My girls are exactly where Kim and Lindsey are in the book--even down to the driving practice. We don't have a DQ in our small town--it is a Sonic.) I don't THINK there are any drug secrets lurking in their lives, but I am sure there ARE things I don't know about.

I have to allow them some freedom to make their own decisions and can't hover over every move they make. The girls in the novel are sort of laughing at mom saying "just stay out of the police logs" but that is about where I am with my girls. I often say exactly what Fran said...call if you go anywhere else.

And I watch the news (and read novels!) that make me fear there is a dangerous stranger lurking around every corner just waiting for them. Do I lock them in the tower until they are grown (as I often threaten to do...) or do I hold my breath, say a prayer and let them have some freedom?

I also think these first impressions of Fran are seen through the eyes of Kim and Lindsey. What teen doesn't make a little fun of their folks? Mine just called me a "nerd" for sitting here at the beach on the computer participating in an online bookclub discussion!

Ann, bookhunter

PS I am editing this to add that I don't mean to get into an arguement about what the best parenting methods are! It was remarkable to me that Fran and her situation was so like me in many ways, but I really won't take it personally that you all don't like her! The book isn't about me!

Message Edited by bookhunter on 06-02-2008 11:15 PM

 

Ann, I just wanted to say that I tend to fall in line with your way of thinking about Fran. Having finished a while ago raising my own two kids and four steps, I agree that they need to be allowed to start finding their own way before that fateful fall day when you install them in their first dormitory room at college. They have to be allowed to MAKE some mistakes before they can learn from them. There’s a term that’s applied to many of today’s parents - ‘helicopter moms’ - always hovering. I saw a news show awhile back with some extreme examples, like the mom who calls her daughter at college every morning to wake her up, and keeps calling back time after time until she’s sure the ‘girl’ is up. And here I thought the idea was to raise responsible adults…

If Fran or Ed weren’t waiting up for 15 year-old Lindsey, that’s a problem. But for her to wait up every night, sacrificing her own sleep and job performance, for a young adult daughter, is equally a problem. Who’s going to be waiting up for her in three more months? Do you think colleges still act in loco parentis? Of course, Fran and Ed could set more boundaries since Kim is still in ‘their‘ house; hopefully they did when she was younger. But O’Nan sets the stage so that there’s no indication that Kim has disappeared because of anything her parents did or didn’t do. She made it home OK, she was on her way to work despite feeling like a day off. Acting responsibly. The idea that we as parents are responsible for everything that can happen to a young adult child is just wishful thinking. “If we just pay enough attention, do everything right, stay connected (despite the fact that kids should be learning how to DISCONNECT at that age), keep our marriages sound, etc. etc., then everything will be all right” We will be in control of the bad things that could affect an adult child’s life, as we were in her early childhood. That’s wrong. We won’t, we can’t, we shouldn’t be.

Fran does what needs to be done about Kim’s disappearance: tries to keep it in the public view. Everyone today is aware that media attention can be the key to locating a missing person. Ed wants to find her himself, that too is understandable, if a somewhat naïve and emotional reaction. But if Fran can inspire hundreds of people to look, to watch for Kim’s car, to keep her face in mind, who is more likely to be ultimately successful? I don’t like the way either of them overlooks Lindsey and her pain. I’ve never been in that situation for a prolonged period myself, so I can only hope that I never would have done that. But it happens when one child is emotionally disturbed, or chronically ill, or drug-addicted, or whatever. You give where you see the most dire need, and you almost can’t bring yourself to devote significant time to what seem to be the lesser needs of other kids, or a spouse.

As readers, we so much want to find Kim, to learn what happened to her, what went wrong, who might have been involved. We share, in a very minor way, what her parents and friends are going through. Unless we have been there, we dare not judge too harshly.

 

Yes,  UNLESS WE HAVE BEEN THERE  that is a powerful statement, that is so very true! If you have never had teenagers, you do not know the human strain, it is on parents to quizzibly wonder if they are making the right moves.  No one knows for sure, they are doing the right or wrong thing when it comes to teenagers. I don't think just being a teenager upt teen yrs ago does not make you knowledgeable on what or how to raise teens. Its a one day at a time scenio that takes all the patience in the world and then some more. And alot of times, people fail, but hey, we are all human.







Regarding humanness, I think that Fran was so wrapped up in her schedule and her clipboard life that living in the present would have been too much reality for her to handle. Relating to teenagers sometimes takes more attention than relating to infants and their care and feeding. I for one never thought that Fran was worried one iota about her own right or wrong moves because she wrapped herself so much in her schedule that she did not have time to even think about it. Where was the patience that Fran had; even in chapter one O'Nan did not say that was her calling card; it was Ed that O'Nan said had the calmer approach and the patience in helping the girls learn to drive. Fran's mind was on autopilot much like her marriage was and the raising of her two daughters. I do not think she was the type of woman who wanted to be bothered with the details of life or what her daughters were experiencing or not. Where would she have gotten the time?

The event is bound to change anyone including Fran and everyone in the family had to deal with it in one fashion or another and it definately is one of the most feared or dreaded experiences that anyone could ever go through. But how all of us would have handled this horrendous situation or would have handled our girls or husband doesn't relate (IMHO) to how Fran has disconnected herself from her family life. She has barriers built around her a mile high and I do not think she even knows it.

I see Fran as being as dead inside as her emotionless relationships. She went through the motions; but never jumped in feet first. Maybe my feelings about her will grow or change but what she is or is not right now is very clear.

All of us would have handled things different from each other and I think the majority of us probably would have connected more with our families before the incident in ways that Fran could never muster.

Bentley
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bookhunter
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Re: Fran (Chapter One - Description of the Person, When Last Seen)

Bently,  I know you say you haven't read the book all the way through, so I definitely want you to come back and revisit your thoughts on Fran when you finish.  I want to know if you change your perception.  Maybe my view is different because I have finished to book and "traveled" a little further with her
 
I don't want you to perceive this as a spoiler, because any book should show further charachter development and journey.  I won't reveal where Fran's journey takes her. :smileywink:
 
Ann,bookhunter
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kLorene
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Re: Fran

i totally agree with your perception of fran, and how she had an epiphany while shopping.  and didn't she say a few times in the book how she'd lived vicariously through kim?
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Kourt
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Re: Fran

I really do not know what to make of Fran. I also see her as living through her eldest daughter. I want her to scram and yell but she kinda of sucks her self in to a shell and goes on her cursade.
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thewanderingjew
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Re: Fran

ELee wrote:
Is it a human tendency to personalize an experience like this by interjecting our own emotions and opinions into the equation?
 
i think so, especially in conversation and discussion. in the end, however, i think that straight, clear-headed thinking should overrule emotion when we need to solve a problem. my reasoning, however, may be flawed because it is too idealistic and polyanna! the courts seem to have a problem with this too!
twj

ELee wrote:
Do we pass judgment based on what their reactions are, or what we think they should be?
 
i think most of us, initially, pass judgment on what we expect or think the reactions should be and then make supporting statements to give credence to our own viewpoints. therefore, at first, sometimes we make the wrong judgment.  if it is a human tendency than we are fated to often waste precious time before we get to thoughtful analysis!
twj

:
 
 
 

 



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mwinasu
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Re: Fran

Frans'  drinking problem seems to be tacked on to her character in order to flesh her out a little.  She does not respond to stress the way a highly functioning alcoholic would.  Most drunks would have used the situation to pickle themselves.  The father acts more like a drunk than the mother.
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CylonReader
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Re: Fran

I have to admit that I was fairly irritated with Fran in the beginning. I mean, really, will you shut UP about the dogs?!? I have never been a Mother, so it was difficult for me to get inside her head and try to identify with how she was reacting. But then I remembered that none of us will ever know how we will react to an unexpected tragedy until we are faced with it. Even if we consider ourselves to be pretty self-aware and emotionally healthy - we won't really know until we are there. I suspect that many times the ways that we find to cope are misunderstood (and labeled as weakness), even by family and close friends.
 
Lisa (aka, CylonReader)
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bookhunter
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Re: Fran



mwinasu wrote:
Frans'  drinking problem seems to be tacked on to her character in order to flesh her out a little.  She does not respond to stress the way a highly functioning alcoholic would.  Most drunks would have used the situation to pickle themselves.  The father acts more like a drunk than the mother.


Mwinsasu, how do you mean that the father acts more like a drunk?  Not having too much experience with alcohlism up close, I was curious as to what you meant by that.  I guess you are suggesting that Fran would have just retreated and drunk herself into oblivion?
 
Not a challenge, just curious...
 
Ann, bookhunter
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KxBurns
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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


Message Edited by Librarian on 06-02-2008 08:07 PM

Excellent -- I was waiting for someone to highlight that passage!
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bentley
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Re: Fran (Chapter One - Description of the Person, When Last Seen)


bookhunter wrote:
Bently,  I know you say you haven't read the book all the way through, so I definitely want you to come back and revisit your thoughts on Fran when you finish.  I want to know if you change your perception.  Maybe my view is different because I have finished to book and "traveled" a little further with her
 
I don't want you to perceive this as a spoiler, because any book should show further charachter development and journey.  I won't reveal where Fran's journey takes her. :smileywink:
 
Ann,bookhunter





Bookhunter, of course that is why I prefaced my remarks that I am open to changing my mind about Fran; but in terms of where I think she was in terms of emotional IQ pre Kim's devastating event; I think I know how I feel about her. As far as how she develops or changes post Kim's disappearance I am digesting that and will update if I change my mind. But I do agree with you on one point regarding Fran..she and the entire family are on a journey because Kim's missing status changes everybody profoundly even more than her presence had. I am honestly not reading other folks comments in these sections unless one of my postings is cited or addresses one of my comments in any way. I so do not want to have my reading experience compromised. And I do understand that your perspective could and may be different about Fran; but I am wondering if our views on her weren't different even at the beginning during the pre-Kim missing stage. I will of course come back and let you know as I read further. But I see her as not being in touch with her feelings and emotional connections pre Kim's tragic departure. We will see and I think that is the beauty of reading a book...we all have our own reading experiences and connections.
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Jeanie0522
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Re: Fran

[ Edited ]
I haven't quite worked out how to respond to a specific post, but I wanted to address the post by mwinasu and bookhunter regarding the father acting more like an alcoholic than the mother.
 
Fran was a frequent and sometimes heavy drinker, but I don't see her as alcoholic.  People with an addiction would surely use a major upset to submerce themselves further into their method of escape.  Ed, on the other hand, goes back to smoking.  He revives a past vice to "help" him during crisis mode.  Fran does quite the opposite.  She puts her drinking in check and each time she has a glass of wine, she considers it cheating. 


Message Edited by Jeanie0522 on 06-03-2008 02:19 PM
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sbrinkley
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Re: Fran

Poor fran works at the hospital and sees all kinds of stuff that makes her worry about her family, but she like to be by the book, this is how its done or suppose be done and thats it.
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KxBurns
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Re: Fran

Wow, so interesting that we have two opposing takes on Fran. Some of you find her too needy and a little weak, relying on sleeping pills and alcohol. Others find her not emotional enough, too disconnected from her family, because she doesn't fall apart when Kim goes missing.
 
I think both perspectives are valid. Fran contains multitudes :smileyhappy:  To me, this is what makes her interesting as a character. Like many mothers, she has the competing impulses to smother her daughters and give them space to grow. After Kim's disappearance (and yes, even before) she self-medicates to dull her grief but at the same time, she's tireless when it comes to the search effort. And even though her marriage isn't perfect, she does keep reaching out to Ed. I thought the passage where Fran prepares for Ed's return was one of the more touching passages in the book.
 
Above all, I liked that Fran changed. Toward the end of the book, when the news is breaking about Wade, Fran tries to get in touch with Lindsay at work. Although Ed is ready to lobby Fran to allow Lindsay to stay at work, he doesn't need to: Fran simply tells Lindsay to be careful and to maybe park at the neighbor's house when she gets home. She also says, "They can call me a crappy mother. I'm going to work tomorrow." I thought this whole exchange -- on page 260 -- was indicative of alot of growth on Fran's part.
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KxBurns
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Re: Fran



tt4now87 wrote:
I think Fran seemed a little nutty from the get go, but I liked her. She was self-absorbed, annoying at times, but also a champion for the cause. Eventually she showed strength and confidence that she probably hadn't had before Kim's disappearance. Her personality, character, marriage and even personal appearance evolved. At one point, I believe it was Nina, internally, noticed the dramatic changes in Fran. While Ed was pulling away, Fran was trying to pull him back in. In the beginning of this story I don't think she would have tried so hard to get close to Ed again. Like, the fishing trip.


nhawkinsII wrote:
Fran became the family spokesperson...Imagine that! How tough it must have been to become the "media darling"...She stepped outside her normal life in Kingville and took the search for her daugher beyond the bounds of her town...It was the only way she could keep her daughter "alive"...


 
I agree -- the media side of the search for Kim is the impetus that spurs a lot of Fran's personal growth. Ironically, Kim's disappearance provided a transformative experience for Fran, in a good way. (Of course that's just one side of it and I don't mean to underestimate the painful side of the ordeal.)
 
On p. 268, O'Nan writes "She used the second anniversary as an opportunity to do good, staging a walkathon for autism. She went on radio and asked for everyone's help bringing Kim home, but with no expectations." I think that signifies an amazing evolution for this character.
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ELee
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Re: Fran



KxBurns wrote:
Wow, so interesting that we have two opposing takes on Fran. Some of you find her too needy and a little weak, relying on sleeping pills and alcohol. Others find her not emotional enough, too disconnected from her family, because she doesn't fall apart when Kim goes missing.

I think it might be useful to bear in mind that she was already dealing with a major change before the story opens - her eldest daughter was going away to college.  She was probably already in turmoil emotionally over what that change would mean in her life. 
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dkmayle
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Re: Fran

I think the problem with Fran may have been more a problem with the author. There was very little introspection on any of the character's parts. I desperately wanted to care about someone in the book (even if only to dislike them) but the characters never developed past one dimensional. It even seemed like the book itself couldn't decide what it wanted to be. The section on the initial official search had the most truth in it, as if it had been thouroughly researched. That's the part that hooked me. We never really think about how that would be, yet there are definate procedures in place. This was a chance for us to see how that plays out and the author did it well. But what about the emotional aspects? It just did not share. I really didn't care that much about any of the characters because the author didn't give me the opportunity to know them very well. I don't expect every author to be Jodi Piccoult but in a book such as this one, I expect at least an attempt to show more than obligatory emotions. The switching around (POV) was clumsy, but the characters were so one dimensional it was more of an irritation than anything. I just couldn't believe the characters had such flat emotions and were so uninvolved in their own lives.
It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.
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vivico1
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Re: Fran


dkmayle wrote:
I think the problem with Fran may have been more a problem with the author. There was very little introspection on any of the character's parts. I desperately wanted to care about someone in the book (even if only to dislike them) but the characters never developed past one dimensional. It even seemed like the book itself couldn't decide what it wanted to be. The section on the initial official search had the most truth in it, as if it had been thouroughly researched. That's the part that hooked me. We never really think about how that would be, yet there are definate procedures in place. This was a chance for us to see how that plays out and the author did it well. But what about the emotional aspects? It just did not share. I really didn't care that much about any of the characters because the author didn't give me the opportunity to know them very well. I don't expect every author to be Jodi Piccoult but in a book such as this one, I expect at least an attempt to show more than obligatory emotions. The switching around (POV) was clumsy, but the characters were so one dimensional it was more of an irritation than anything. I just couldn't believe the characters had such flat emotions and were so uninvolved in their own lives.



Amen! This is the problem with the book. There are some good chapters, mostly the first few, cause its the details of the people and things we need to know, then it goes flat. This could just as well be a daily news update by a third person saying, "Ed was said to be and feel this way today, Fran was said to be this way today, each is handling things in their own way, more later". There are a few well written things later, I was actually more interested in Ed back at work when he goes to check out the house he has taken on to sell, than about the abduction by this point! This isn't solely about Fran so might be better on some other thread about it, but several of us have said this, and it could be said on any thread about any of these characters so might as well be here. I feel O'Nan wrote a good book but cheated us out of any real feelings about the people involved and thats the whole point of this book, not what is happening to Kim, but these people who are left to deal with her missing and they are all so flat!
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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hannah7299
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Re: Fran

I found it difficult to read Fran throughout the story.  I think she favored and catered to Kim when she was still alive and therefore, she was lost and trying to find herself after Kim's disappearance.  It seemed that Fran tried to re-live her relationship with Kim through Lindsay, to no avail.  I almost saw a similar connection between the behavior of Fran and Cooper after Kim disappeared.  They were both bewildered and needy.
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ELee
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Re: Fran



hannah7299 wrote:
I almost saw a similar connection between the behavior of Fran and Cooper after Kim disappeared.  They were both bewildered and needy.


Nice point.  But Cooper did eventually realize that Kim was gone and stopped trying to head butt her door open, instead opting to sleep with Lindsay. 
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Jeanie0522
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Re: Fran

[ Edited ]
I would have to disagree here.  I think these characters were developed perfectly.  This act has happened to a random family.  Not someone next door or someone famous.  Just regular, every day people.  I don't believe we were suppose to necessarily fall in love with one or any of them.  As far as the story falling flat, I disagree there as well.  One of the thing Stewart O'Nan does in his novels that sets him apart from his peers is he has the ability to make you feel time pass.  When it takes years for closure, there is going to be a lot of waiting.  I'm very glad that I had read a few of his other novels before I read this one.  I think it helped me to appreciate it more. 
 
Fran was a bit of a selfish woman, but there are a few of those living on my block...in fact, I'm probably one of them.  When you lose someone, it is common to think about how it is effecting "you" and forget how it may be effecting other people in the family.  I have first hand experience on this one, and looking back, I see that I may not have been as helpful as I could have been when other family members were hurting.  We all do our best in tragic situations, but we are not perfect and sometimes our bad traits win out.  Fran loved her daughter, and she did the best she knew how.  The more I think about her, the more normal she seems.  When the police first asked her what she thought happened to Kim, she said that she thought someone had taken her.  She knew her daughter well enough to know she didn't run away.  She became obsessed with adding dogs to the search as a way to try to get some action to take place on the part of the police.  I also believe she loved Lindsey every bit as much as she loved Kim.  But Kim is the one missing, so that is the daughter she has turned her focus to.  She certainly has not forgotten about Lindsey.  She won't allow her to be in the house alone as they don't know if Kim was abducted from there and she keeps very close tabs on her. 
 
Sorry, still cannot figure out how to comment to a specific post.  This post is in response to Viv's last one.  I've tried, but it appears that brain surgery would be easier for me to learn than copying a post!  I'm off to see if B&N has any medical books I can purchase.


Message Edited by Jeanie0522 on 06-03-2008 07:01 PM
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