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Frequent Contributor
Sassy398
Posts: 56
Registered: ‎11-03-2008
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

I am sorry to say the book seemed very jumpy and hard to follow. It made it very

difficult to have the desire to read on.  At times it felt that some chapters dragged on.

As far as charcters, it sometimes really left me bewildred.

 

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blkeyesuzi
Posts: 730
Registered: ‎01-26-2008
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen


KxBurns wrote:

Discuss the developments of the final three chapters. What did you make of Lil's decline and death? How does Chapter Fifteen parallel Chapter One?

 

Are any of the other main characters headed in directions that surprised you? What do you think will be the fate of "the group," as a unit, in the future?

 


The parallel between chapters 1 and 15 was a good idea for a beginning and ending, however I had so many questions from the chapters in between, I was left a little bewildered.  Lil's decline and death was no surprise to me, only its cause, as I expected a death by suicide.  Unfortunately, I didn't feel close enough to Lil's character to feel sadness upon hearing of her death and I really didn't have a connection with any of these characters.  I'm not sure what was missing, but perhaps my "visits" with them throughout the book were always cut short and moved on to something else before I was allowed to get to really get to know them.

 

When Tal showed up from Israel I think it was the last straw for me...one more story line that offered only a glimpse of what was going on.  It was frustrating to me to learn just little bits of information that go nowhere. (This happened throughout the book. e.g., the protest and arrest) I'm left wondering exactly what was the point? Why did the author even supply this little glimpse if it's not going to add anything to the story? In this particular instance regarding Tal, I can't help but wonder if perhaps the author was trying to illustrate how people can change so drastically, but it was a device used too late for me and she used a character that was absent for most of the novel.

 

The beauty of the parallel of the 1st and 15 chapters DOES tell us that this group will be there for each other regardless of who they become or where they go. I could see them continuing to come together for the big moments (future weddings and funerals).  It's just too bad I didn't get to know and like the characters more.

 

  

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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mapleann
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen


aprilh wrote:

I agree with many of the readers who were not surprised so much by Lil's death but the way she died. I too, thought it was a suicide, not the flu. This was very shocking.

After much thought, I realized I could relate to the nature of this groups' friendships. I have friends I was friends with in high school, but over the years everyone moved on going to college, getting married, having kids. We went from talking all the time, to every few weeks, to once a month. It's been twelve years now, and though we still love each other and want the best for each other, everyone has their own lives and busy schedules. We, like the characters in this book, keep each other up to date on the big picture of our lives not so much on the minutiae of every day life. We see each other on holidays, weddings, babies being born, etc. We know we're there for each other if we're needed, but don't necessarily feel the need to communicate on the small things.


I agree with April, the book rang true to me. I look at my friends, always will be friends, but we hardly get together anymore. We hear tidbits here and there, so and so is pregnant, somebody got married, somebody else is getting a divorce or the marriage is doomed, and then another person....The longer the time passes since we have all been close, the more scattered communication is and then it is only "newsworthy" information that is shared, sadly enough it is the negative that travels the fastest.

 

What if this Oberlin group was using a online networking site? It is only since my group has joined facebook that we understand a little better about the minute details of each other's life. We get to know what TV shows they like, what they are doing for entertainment on the weekends, when they have exciting news or a bummer of a day. When a new, but old, friend joins facebook, their present position in life can be startling. When did they move? I didn't know he was married now!.. Fore example, I learned a month ago that my college roommate had lost a child. I should have known that. I should have kept in better contact.

 

With this perspective, I have gained a great appreciation for the book. I did have a difficult time reading the first chapter, but I did sense the closure with the ending chapter. I felt it was a satifying read, and I will be passing the book on. I can find many of my friends in the characters portrayed. I would prefer the first chapters to have not been so dense, especially in creating the setting, but I otherwise thought Rakoff did a great job.

Contributor
LibraryGirlReads
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎12-04-2008
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

Well, I managed to finally finish the book.  I still have no clue what the actual plot was - themes I'm sure I could pull out - but I'm not sure I could outline any actual action in the book.  I feel like we missed such major events like other weddings and babies.  Each time we caught up with a character, I had to remember what that person was doing the last time we encountered them and then to try to fill in the missing time.

 

I found Sadie to be incredibly self-centered when hearing about Lil's death.  I think many people wonder if there is something that they could have done to help in that type of situation but Sadie seemed so positive that if she had stayed in better contact with Lil that she would still be alive.  I think she imagined herself to have a great deal more power than she actually had.

 

I know there were 6 years between Lil's wedding and Lil's funeral but the timeline of the book often confused me.  I had a hard time keeping track of how much time had passed between different events.

 

Although the group comes together for the wedding at the beginning and the funeral at the end, it seems that they miss so many important events in the meantime.  We don't know if they were at the other weddings, if there were baby showers, how often they called each other or got together for dinners.  They didn't discuss the troubles they were having in their lives but seemed to stay firmly on the surface in conversations.  I got the impression that I was supposed to understand that the group was very close in college but I didn't really see that closeness even in their memories of that time and they certainly didn't seem to have close friendships during the six years covered by the book.

 

Overall, I found this book a bit of a struggle since I never really became invested in the characters.

Distinguished Correspondent
Shadowwolf36
Posts: 76
Registered: ‎09-16-2008
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

Just as I was getting into the book and starting to care about the characters, it ends on this very strange note....the whole breast milk incident and the drive to the burial turning into this weird experience with Tuck. I hated it. Hated the Bam, the book is done on this note. I felt that we never got any real closure for any character except Lil. I liked that it started with a wedding and ended with a funeral but other than that, I hated the ending.....

Correspondent
detailmuse
Posts: 180
Registered: ‎01-24-2008
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

Interesting, I suspected that Lil was going to die when (p361) Caitlin said, “…She wanted kids more than anything.” The past tense (“wanted”) and Lil’s psychiatric hospitalization made me suspect suicide. Then when she did die, I found it unbelievable that the flu got her; it felt contrived so that the book could be parallel to The Group (which this novel does make me want to read, btw!). I felt completely unemotional about her death and was surprised her funeral was so well-attended -- even old college profs traveled to NYC for it??
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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen


Tarri wrote:

[edited]

I was surprised that Tal chose the path he did, although I think the path was really chosen for him (fate).  Other than that, the characters seemed to just be living life.  

 


Interesting observation! To me it seems like the path Tal has chosen is a fairly deliberate break from the path that has been preordained for him, since he defies his parents expectations of him, and even the expectations of his friends in the end. I think of Tal as being the most self-efficacious in this way. Did you see him more as just floating along? 

Correspondent
m3girl
Posts: 194
Registered: ‎03-02-2007
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

I have to agree with the overall consensus on this particular novel.  I learned a whole lot reading it - like why my writing instructors insist on getting the reader into the scene rather than using too much narrative summary.  When you are in the scene - you relate much more to the characters.  Since there was just so much narrative summary in this story it was difficult to get attached to the characters - and therefore many people just didn't care what happened to them.

As I read the book - I really didn't like the characters - not because they didn't have anything like-able but rather because I really didn't get to know them very well.  For example those early chapters with Beth - just made me dislike her - and perhaps that wasn't right.  But that's the way it was.

I don't expect to like all of the characters but I do have to care about the outcome of their story - and in this case I just didn't.

Susan

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detailmuse
Posts: 180
Registered: ‎01-24-2008
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

On another thread, someone said (I'm paraphrasing) that while the characters in Mary McCarthy's "The Group" blazed important trails, the characters here did not. I completely agree. They lived ordinary lives (boring, even) and although the writing captured me, I did keep hoping that it would all coalesce into something bigger ... progressive, meaningful. Actually, this group leaves me feeling discouraged.
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m3girl
Posts: 194
Registered: ‎03-02-2007
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

Chapter 14 - After a long chapter or more on Lil and her miscarriage/mental illness - the story just jumps months later.  Not much is said (if anything) about what happened to Lil - did she get better?  Is she still messed up?  Instead it jumps to Sadie - who is still breast feeding her 2 year old son - yuk.  Is she doing that to have a connection to a male?  Since her husband is gone so much.....or is she doing it because it is the easy way out and she's too lazy to do what it takes to wean him?

Still don't like Caitlin - and I think that is the intention...but then if Sadie doesn't like her much then why does she follow her home? 

I liked Sadie more than the others but she still seems spineless and easily manipulated - not admirable traits.

 

Chapter 15 - Lil is dead.  BFD.  (Sorry - but that was my response).  And it's just mentioned in the first page of the chapter like it isn't that big of a deal.  Then the chapter moves on to the funeral service.  Her friends seem to be upset - are they upset because Lil is dead or because they are becoming more and more aware of how short life is?  Who knows.....I don't.  Also - she died of the flu?  Are you kidding me.  I felt sort of robbed by that lame story line.  Sorry.

I was happy when I finished the book.  Like I said in an earlier post - I learned a whole lot about what doesn't work and do appreciate everyone's comments reinforcing my own thoughts.

 

Susan

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KxBurns
Posts: 1,006
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

[ Edited ]

biljounc63 wrote:

My first reaction when reading chapter 15 and finding out that Lil is dead in the first paragraph was: "here we go again". Where did this come from? I was not expecting a death but I jumped to the conclusion that she committed suicide. I did not expect death from the flu it happens but not often somebody of Lil's age which makes it a bit unbelievable in my book. At least we got a explanation this time. There still were many gaps that were not resolved.

 

Over all I found the book choppy and the story line not connected. I agree with others with there being to many charactors and none developed into a main one leaving me with detached feeling towards any of them. The group was more group of self centered individuals that happend to know each other but were not really there for each other when it was needed the most.


 

Valid comments, definitely. I know many of you are having trouble with the choppiness of the plot developments. To my reading, Lil's poor psychological health somewhat explains how she could so unexpectedly die of the flu -- the two not being entirely unconnected in terms of immune functioning, but also as a measure of how well this individual was able to protect herself, take care of herself, etc. In that respect, I rather appreciated the less expected -- perhaps less cliched? -- nature of her death.

 

Similarly, Tal is presented throughout the novel as somewhat mysterious but more centered than the others, which didn't make it entirely out of context for him to have some spiritual evolution that would utterly surprise his friends. I think his turn toward faith surprises Sadie because theirs is a very secular group. But really, it's not all that different from her own choice to become a stay-at-home mother. Both, in my opinion, represent a search for meaning outside of oneself. Now, we can compare/contrast that with Lil I suppose...

 

But I like that you've brought up the word detachment. Let's look at detachment -- the character's detachment from each other, our detachment from them. Is this a comment on modern life? Or on the universal process of growing up? I know some of you have had trouble connecting with the characters and seeing anything of yourselves in them, but is there anything in the detachment of the group that speaks to you, but that maybe you've managed to navigate more successfully in your own life?...

Message Edited by KxBurns on 01-28-2009 01:32 PM
Message Edited by KxBurns on 01-28-2009 01:34 PM
Contributor
canders
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎11-18-2008
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

I have to agree that I really didn't like the characters because most of them we never really got to know. It felt like maybe there were just too many characters for me to become attached to anyone. I agree with others that it didn't really matter to me about Lil. Usually when someone dies in a book I get at least a little upset about it but in this particular book I just felt like I didn't know her enough to care.

 

I did enjoy the beginning with Lil's wedding and the ending with her funeral. I just feel like maybe we should have been able to know the character's better. All in all a good read but a little dificult to get into.

Contributor
olivialove
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎12-03-2008
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

Like many others stated, there is the obvious beginning and end parallels, of the group getting together because of an event surounding Lil.

 

But I didn't really like the last chapter.  The last sentence to be exact.  When I finally finished the book, it was like "huh?  This is how it ends?"

 

I mean I can appreciate that it is a realisitc look at life and friendships.  Once you get married and have kids you kind of disconnect with many friends, and only hear about them from time to time, or catch up every now and again.  So in that way, it made sense why the book was so choppy and jumped in time so much when trying to follow the lives of these people.

 

I hated Caitlin I hated Tuck, and was dissapointed they didn't have more of an unpleasant ending, but then again, that doesn't happen in real life to the people it should right?  The "villians" in story books get what is coming to them, but in real life they go on with their lives perfectly fine.  

 

The whole ending with Tal, Sadie and Tuck in the car was a huge dissapointment.  I thought it was going to lead to something significant, but all I got were fragmented conversations that made little to no sense.   And Tuck.  Tuck!  Sadie hugs him and he stares at her like some lost soul, right, and we are thinking, what in the heck is he thinking?  Is he going to do something crazy?  Then there is the weird car conversation, the weird bar scene and in the end he just gets out of the car and walks off, Sadie for a moment wishing she could join him... fade to black.. I was just... completely taken aback by the last few pages after the memorial service.  I really don't know what to make of any of it.

 

I also think to call these people "friends" is laughable.  I know life happens to people, but they really drifted so far apart, and in the end knew nothing about each other.. and even when they were closer earlier in the book they still weren't honest and held so much back.  They are never just out right open and honest and raw with each other.   Is that how people really are??  I am not or have ever been that way.  My friends have picked me up off the floor in some of the absolute worst times in my life.  There through the good and bad.  So the whole "group" thing, the idea that they all consider themselves to be friends throughout the course of the entire book... it was hard to relate to or understand.

 

 

The lack of detail surrounding Lil made it difficult to sympathize with her death. 

As to the fate of the "group" I think they will continue to detach, as they have throughout the course of the book, and eventually just become nothing but memories.

 

 

 

Contributor
brezi
Posts: 23
Registered: ‎04-11-2008
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

I agree with quinncx. The ending of the book was very rushed. The author spent a lot of time developing the characters in the beginning, but in the end, everything happened so fast that I felt cheated. Also, there were so many characters that I don't feel like I really connected with any of them as much as I could have had there been fewer characters to keep track of. I don't feel like the characters in this book had a true connection with each other. They seemed to be more superficial friends than "true" friends.
Wordsmith
Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen


KxBurns wrote:

Tarri wrote:

[edited]

I was surprised that Tal chose the path he did, although I think the path was really chosen for him (fate).  Other than that, the characters seemed to just be living life.  

 


Interesting observation! To me it seems like the path Tal has chosen is a fairly deliberate break from the path that has been preordained for him, since he defies his parents expectations of him, and even the expectations of his friends in the end. I think of Tal as being the most self-efficacious in this way. Did you see him more as just floating along? 


That's what I meant by fate.  You get a part in a movie (chosen field) and end up going in a totally different direction.   I'm sure that Tal never expected to end up where he did. 

Wordsmith
maude40
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

Chapter thirteen--The first paragraph was a shock. Emily giving up her aspirations of being a working actor and going to med-school. Sounds like a good plan and she seems very happy with Josh. Her life has become better despite Clara's problems.

 

Lil, however, has some major problems with Tuck. If she doesn't leave him I'll be very surprised and sad. She is so dependent on him, "Each time he walked into the room, she greeted him like a drowning woman clutching a life raft. And each time he walked out the door, her heart seized with panic that he was never, ever coming back." It's no wonder she is in a mental clinic and needs help with her self esteem. Emily is her "life raft" right now not Tuck. I thought this was a powerful chapter. The group of friends is coming into their own, starting with Emily. It will be interesting to see how the others turn out. Yvonne

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dhaupt
Posts: 11,865
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

I was terribly saddened by Lil's decline, but it mirrors what is going on in this country for those who cannot afford health insurance.  I know she didn't like where she was in her life, no children, no husband floundering in her life as a whole. I don't think it was suicide like another reader thought, I still think she would have gotten medical attention if it had been more available to her.

The mirror from chapter one is as I can see it the fact that the book started with a wedding and ended with a funeral and that both occasions brought the group of friends together.

I think most of the group ended up as I thought from following them through the book and even understood Sadie's paranoia after 9/11.

I think the group as a whole will only get together for major events like funerals and weddings, they obviously have grown away from each other and now especially that Lil is gone I think the reunions they do have would be painful reminders of all they've gone through. 

Wordsmith
Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen


dhaupt wrote:

I was terribly saddened by Lil's decline, but it mirrors what is going on in this country for those who cannot afford health insurance.  I know she didn't like where she was in her life, no children, no husband floundering in her life as a whole. I don't think it was suicide like another reader thought, I still think she would have gotten medical attention if it had been more available to her.*snip*


Excellent point.

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Darbys_Closet
Posts: 29
Registered: ‎11-30-2008
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen

Lil's death also saddened me, yet I see it as a lesson to be reminded of or learned. For now adays everyone just sweeps thru life only concerned/focus on themselves and the weak are swept into the sidelines or "gutters" and if the weak cannot get out of their "rut" on their own then a "friend" should or hopefully would come along and help them onto their feet.  With today's world so focused on money, I'm afraid without a conscience effort we may find alot more "Lil's" struggleing in the "gutters".
Distinguished Wordsmith
aprilh
Posts: 424
Registered: ‎09-25-2008
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Re: Chapters Thirteen through Fifteen


dhaupt wrote:

I was terribly saddened by Lil's decline, but it mirrors what is going on in this country for those who cannot afford health insurance.  I know she didn't like where she was in her life, no children, no husband floundering in her life as a whole. I don't think it was suicide like another reader thought, I still think she would have gotten medical attention if it had been more available to her.

The mirror from chapter one is as I can see it the fact that the book started with a wedding and ended with a funeral and that both occasions brought the group of friends together.

I think most of the group ended up as I thought from following them through the book and even understood Sadie's paranoia after 9/11.

I think the group as a whole will only get together for major events like funerals and weddings, they obviously have grown away from each other and now especially that Lil is gone I think the reunions they do have would be painful reminders of all they've gone through. 


 

I agree with dhaupt. I think if Lil had health insurance she would have gone in to the doctor. When Emily was explaining to the girls what happened to Lil, she makes a point of saying "She called me and asked if we knew a clinic she could go to-you know, she didn't have health insurance." It shows what's happening in our country to those who are sick, but afraid to go a doctor because they have no health insurance and are not sure how they will pay for the bill. Finding out Lil had pneumonia and had she gone in earlier she might have lived was just so sad to me.

April