Reply
Moderator
KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
0 Kudos

Kim

Is Kim a ghost in these pages or did you feel like you really came to know her through the eyes of her loved ones? I think the book is full of small details that help us get to know Kim; what are some that stood out to you? Why do you think Kim held J.P. at such as distance?
 
In what ways do the attempts to memorialize Kim actually transform her from the real girl of the first chapter to the Kim of the final chapter?
 
-Karen
Moderator
dhaupt
Posts: 11,832
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Kim

I found Kim real before the disappearance but in the middle and later chapters felt more like she was ghost.

The more I found out about Kim the less I liked her, I think she was spoiled, self centered and in some cases mean. But in saying that I don't think she strays to far from any normal teenage girl dealing with the issues we all faced growing up. I didn't like myself to well at her age and I knew everything too and took too many chances, and my daughter didn't think I knew anything until she was well into her twenties.

She not only kept JP at arms length but every one else as well, she only let her friends see the side of her that she chose to show them same with her family.

I think when we immortalize someone they are always portrayed more than they really were and especially when that someone is lost to us from a tragedy like this one.
Frequent Contributor
bentley
Posts: 2,509
Registered: ‎01-31-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Kim


KxBurns wrote:
Is Kim a ghost in these pages or did you feel like you really came to know her through the eyes of her loved ones? I think the book is full of small details that help us get to know Kim; what are some that stood out to you? Why do you think Kim held J.P. at such as distance?
 
In what ways do the attempts to memorialize Kim actually transform her from the real girl of the first chapter to the Kim of the final chapter?
 
-Karen





For me, Kim was the black cloud over the Larsen house. I do not think we really could ever know Kim in this kind of novel. It really wasn't about her but the fallout from her disappearance; it could have been any one of them.

Kim had goals too and did not think that those goals included JP. She did not hate the town; but wanted more for herself.
Scribe
DSaff
Posts: 2,048
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Kim

Kim seems like a ghost to me because I never really got to know her. The first chapter doesn't do much but introduce her and, while we meet her from the perspectives of friends and loved ones, I think there are still pieces missing. These are pieces we would get to know if we really met Kim. I think we get a picture of her as a somewhat typical teenager stretching her wings and getting ready for college. I was troubled by the drinking and drugs because that doesn't have to be typical. The driving lesson with Lindsay showed me that while she could be rebellious and self-centered, she also had a warm spot for her sister. The puzzle box told me that Kim sensed when someone was in her stuff but sent her messages in ways other than yelling.
 
Kim kept everyone a distance away, so J.P. shouldn't feel alone in that. Her friends thought they knew her, but when it came down to it, I don't think so. Everyone had a piece of Kim, but not all of her. I don't think she was ready to commit herself that way, yet. She was a puzzle box.

I think that two things made me truly believe that Kim's family knew she wasn't coming back. The first was the balloons and the second was Lindsay going off to college. The funeral/memorial service was outward, but these two moments were inward for me.
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
Frequent Contributor
bookhunter
Posts: 322
Registered: ‎06-09-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Kim



KxBurns wrote:
Is Kim a ghost in these pages or did you feel like you really came to know her through the eyes of her loved ones? ...
 
-Karen


Kim as a character was not so real to me, but who she represents is very real. 
 
DonnaS above describes her as a typical teenager stretching her wings before college.  She is just like the millions of kids that age across this country and the world who are on the edge of child/adulthood.  She is still at home and dependent on her parents, but making decisions on her own.  To us adults, (and probably to Kim 10 yrs down the road) they are stupid decisions, but that is part of life.  She is looking ahead to her future and anticipating what her life will be like, so she is holding loosely to the bonds of her parents, her sister, JP, and her friends.  The sarcastic comments and eye-rolling about following home rules and helping out with Lindsey are not really showing her dislike or disrespect of her family, but her way of breaking those bonds so she can be an adult.
 
I think Mr. O'Nan made this book particularly tragic by making Kim a person with so many possibile futures ahead of her and oh-so-close to achieving them.
 
Ann, bookhunter
Contributor
CountessCat
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎01-10-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Kim

As the book progressed, I found myself liking Kim less and less...  Out of curiosity I wanted to know what happened to her, yet on a certain level I realized that I really didn't care that much!
Inspired Correspondent
Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Kim

I, like many on here, did not care for Kim much. Maybe we all bring our own issues into reading books, and I know I never cared for the "stars" in high school. I found it kind of surprising actually that a much loved college bound middle class student was being allowed/encouraged to work long late hours in a convenience store.
 
What is really sad, like someone mentioned above, is that "real Kim" was not evolved yet. She might have become less self-centered, more honest, fell deeply in love, been a good mother one day. The potential for someone who would bring good things to the world was there.
Frequent Contributor
Bedelia
Posts: 31
Registered: ‎10-20-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Kim

I agree with you. I felt very sorry for Lindsey, always living in her shadow and I think the parents were worse at that situation than any others.
Contributor
jawilt26
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎10-30-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Kim

I felt that Kim was very spoiled and mean at times the only thing that she did that was nice was spending that last day with Lindsey. I felt like she was like every teenager and felt that she was invincible. But I guess we will never know the real Kim.
Jodie A Wilt
Wordsmith
Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Kim



dhaupt wrote:
*snip*
The more I found out about Kim the less I liked her, I think she was spoiled, self centered and in some cases mean. But in saying that I don't think she strays to far from any normal teenage girl dealing with the issues we all faced growing up. *snip*
 
I think when we immortalize someone they are always portrayed more than they really were and especially when that someone is lost to us from a tragedy like this one.

This is exactly how I felt about Kim.  I think she was a typical teenager who probably would have matured into a much nicer person when she got away from her small town. 
Wordsmith
BookWoman718
Posts: 220
Registered: ‎01-28-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Kim



Bonnie824 wrote:
I, like many on here, did not care for Kim much. Maybe we all bring our own issues into reading books, and I know I never cared for the "stars" in high school. I found it kind of  surprising actually that a much loved college bound middle class student was being allowed/encouraged to work long late hours in a convenience store.
 

Bonnie,
I think reading the posts about the various characters in the book demonstrates exactly what you say.   I felt I saw so little of Kim that I didn't have an opinion on 'liking' her - but nothing I learned about her gave me much reason to dislike her either.   She couldn't wait to get out of town and start her own life - check that.  Got impatient with parental requests - been there.   Experimented with sex and drugs - yeah, that's dicey, but puts her squarely in the mid range of teen behavior-by-age-18 stats.   But she was working hard - probably had to, the family was experiencing some financial stress, but also probably liked having her own money.  She was going off to college, not settling for the dead-end life with the hometown boy.  She had good friends but also kept her own counsel;  respected her family (fond of Dad, hung up her towel, took her sister driving.)   So in total I didn't really have 'issues' with Kim that amount to much.  As her parent, I would have been pretty happy - and that comes from someone who is blessed with great kids, now-adult, accomplished 'kids',  who nonetheless gave me a few gray hairs along the way.   Frankly, I've been surprised by the harshness of some of the criticisms of these characters;  I think the author's intent was not to depict any bad guys here, but just normal people caught up in a horrible tragedy.  Normal, meaning they aren't perfect.   I found it pretty easy to empathize with them, and interested to see how their strengths and frailities would play out.
Contributor
shesha35
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎03-31-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Kim



KxBurns wrote:
Is Kim a ghost in these pages or did you feel like you really came to know her through the eyes of her loved ones? I think the book is full of small details that help us get to know Kim; what are some that stood out to you? Why do you think Kim held J.P. at such as distance?
 
In what ways do the attempts to memorialize Kim actually transform her from the real girl of the first chapter to the Kim of the final chapter?
 
-Karen


She is a ghost of a person,but i think all teenagers are.I know I struggle with really knowing mine.We get to know a typical teenager who wants her own life and the secrets they keep.The not so great choices they make as they struggle to figure out who anad what they are.I think Lindsay is also a ghost of a person in the book.Not only is she struggling with who she is naturally now she has to struggle with a missing sister and feeling like she was loved less.
New User
MommaSue
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎04-26-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Kim

I agree with Bookwoman, I work at a high school and see all sides of teens, we don't get to know either Kim or Lindsey in depth but I can see where they would fit in at my school. My teims graduated last week from a class of 128 kids and looking at both charactors. Kim is like students I know whereas Linsey reminds me of my kids and reading the book I put my self in the parents place and could only imagine the feelings....It was interesting seeing how each person handles the stresses in the book.
Moderator
KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Kim



BookWoman718 wrote:


Bonnie824 wrote:
I, like many on here, did not care for Kim much. Maybe we all bring our own issues into reading books, and I know I never cared for the "stars" in high school. I found it kind of  surprising actually that a much loved college bound middle class student was being allowed/encouraged to work long late hours in a convenience store.
 

Bonnie,
I think reading the posts about the various characters in the book demonstrates exactly what you say.   I felt I saw so little of Kim that I didn't have an opinion on 'liking' her - but nothing I learned about her gave me much reason to dislike her either.   She couldn't wait to get out of town and start her own life - check that.  Got impatient with parental requests - been there.   Experimented with sex and drugs - yeah, that's dicey, but puts her squarely in the mid range of teen behavior-by-age-18 stats.   But she was working hard - probably had to, the family was experiencing some financial stress, but also probably liked having her own money.  She was going off to college, not settling for the dead-end life with the hometown boy.  She had good friends but also kept her own counsel;  respected her family (fond of Dad, hung up her towel, took her sister driving.)   So in total I didn't really have 'issues' with Kim that amount to much.  As her parent, I would have been pretty happy - and that comes from someone who is blessed with great kids, now-adult, accomplished 'kids',  who nonetheless gave me a few gray hairs along the way.   Frankly, I've been surprised by the harshness of some of the criticisms of these characters;  I think the author's intent was not to depict any bad guys here, but just normal people caught up in a horrible tragedy.  Normal, meaning they aren't perfect.   I found it pretty easy to empathize with them, and interested to see how their strengths and frailities would play out.


I agree completely, Bookwoman.
 
You know, aside from her relationship with J.P., I didn't get the impression that Kim kept her true self hidden from friends and family any more than your average person/teen. To me, the fact that her loved ones find out these revelations demonstrates not a secretiveness unique to Kim, but rather just how imperfectly any of us can really know another. Just as Bonnie points out that we bring our own perogative to bear on how we interpret characters in a book, we are also limited in our personal relationships by the context in which we relate to a person. Ed and Fran did not know every facet of Kim -- they knew Kim, their daughter. She, in turn, presented to them those things about herself that fulfill that role. I think we all do this!
Frequent Contributor
nhawkinsII
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Kim

Kim was introduced to us as a typical teenager...perched on the chasm of leaving her small hometown for college and stepping into adulthood. There was a part of her who wanted to the safety and protection of childhood ("reading Madeline L'Engle and otherworldly fantasies she'd loved as a girl as if trying to call back that lost time." , pg 5) as well as the girl who realized she was closing an important summer in her life. ("Her parents' door was closed. So was Lindsay's. Closing hers just completed the set." , pg 5).

I think the author also did not create a "media" Kim as is so common today's news stories...the one who is missing is often built into a "larger than life" person. We always keep our images of Kim from her short "life" introduction and from the memories of her family and her friends...

Even with Kim's disappearance, life goes on...her family works through loss, frustration, denial, guilt and somewhere along the way they wrestle with the notions of "what might have happened, what could have been and I can't change any of it...Kim's never coming back". Rather than sending a daughter to college and on to adulthood Kim's family had to attend a funeral...two years or so after that fateful summer. The Kim they knew...eighteen and bursting to join the "real world"...her life was done and the funeral actually represented a ''return home'' to Ed, Fran and Lindsay...Kim was "safe" again. Her physical remains were close in proximity...it was as if she had lived with them...not disappeared and vanished from the face of the earth.
Frequent Contributor
hpthatbme
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎02-17-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Kim

I felt at the very beginning when we got a glimpse of Kim, that she was a typical teenager. But as the story developed you didn't see that typical teenager. Everyone that we got to know throughout the story has twisted the memories to make her seem better, they loved her more due to the feeling of what might have been. These people actually lost a loved one, and even though she wasn't there physically, I think as Lindsay's chapters mentioned ~ Kim haunted them. So for me Kim became more of a ghost and less of a person.

I feel that Kim kept J.P. at a distance because of the secrets she had from him. She had some feelings for him, but they were supposed to go to different colleges and possibly didn't see how things could work out.
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Kim


hpthatbme wrote:
I felt at the very beginning when we got a glimpse of Kim, that she was a typical teenager. But as the story developed you didn't see that typical teenager. Everyone that we got to know throughout the story has twisted the memories to make her seem better, they loved her more due to the feeling of what might have been. These people actually lost a loved one, and even though she wasn't there physically, I think as Lindsay's chapters mentioned ~ Kim haunted them. So for me Kim became more of a ghost and less of a person.

I feel that Kim kept J.P. at a distance because of the secrets she had from him. She had some feelings for him, but they were supposed to go to different colleges and possibly didn't see how things could work out.


Kim's relationship with J.P. might have had an element of "let's prove Mom wrong" while at the same time staying away from commitment because somewhere, somehow she also heard and heeded her mother's concerns. Ah, adolescence -- and too much of life?
"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
Inspired Contributor
Jo6353
Posts: 683
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Kim

In the beginning of the book it seemed as though Kim was the main character and very much apart of the book. However, it soon became apparent that the main focus was not Kim but the family dynamics surrounding her disappearance. This focus sort of kept Kim at a distance and didn't let you feel a lot for her but rather to look at the situation from a more analytical point of view. For me, this kept the terrifying emotions away and allowed me to finish the book.
Frequent Contributor
va-BBoomer
Posts: 84
Registered: ‎01-21-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Kim

When someone dies prematurely, the survivors - friends, family - often idealize the deceased.  I think her parents definitely did this with Kim, especially after she was declared officially missing, and as time progressed, and everyone had to admit that she was probably dead.  I think the reason Ed and Fran became hostile toward Nina and JP was their revelation that Kim was a normal teen-ager who had done some drugs, and had sex.  This broke into this emotionally-protective idealization of her that her parents had developed.
I don't see this from Lindsay at all aside from her always remembering their final day together.  As her parents said at the time they gave her permission to get a job and move along with life, she was easier and more mature than Kim had been at a similar age.
Her friends were the ones who continued to know and accept and not forget the real Kim that they knew.
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Kim

VA-BBoomer -- neat post and perspective, although not the one I would have articulated before reading yours. In particular, I would have speculated that Ed and Fran became hostile towards Nina and JP: a) because they felt, rationally or not, that knowing sooner the information Nina and JP withheld might have led to a successful recovery of Kim, b) given the bond of trust that had been violated, what other things might Nina and JP still be concealing, and c) what roles had Nina and JP played in "corrupting" their daughter.

I also saw Lindsay as hurting inside a lot more than her outside persona revealed. One of the evidences of that to me was her attempt to get close to JP, the one human being she must have perceived was probably closest to her sister. And, I think O'Nan provided other indirect hints here and there.

But I particularly resonated to your comment about it was her friends who grieved, healed, and remembered the "real" Kim, with all her idiosyncrasies. I also appreciated your qualifier, "that they knew," implying that there was probably also a Kim that they didn't know.



va-BBoomer wrote:
When someone dies prematurely, the survivors - friends, family - often idealize the deceased. I think her parents definitely did this with Kim, especially after she was declared officially missing, and as time progressed, and everyone had to admit that she was probably dead. I think the reason Ed and Fran became hostile toward Nina and JP was their revelation that Kim was a normal teen-ager who had done some drugs, and had sex. This broke into this emotionally-protective idealization of her that her parents had developed.

I don't see this from Lindsay at all aside from her always remembering their final day together. As her parents said at the time they gave her permission to get a job and move along with life, she was easier and more mature than Kim had been at a similar age.

Her friends were the ones who continued to know and accept and not forget the real Kim that they knew.


"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
Top Kudoed Authors
User Kudos Count
1
Users Online
Currently online:102 members 554 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: