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GSB65
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎12-06-2008
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Re: Friendships

The friends at Sag Harbor seem to pick up where they left off.  They have the new handshakes to figure out, new music to listen to, new insults to throw, but they all seem happy to see each other.

 

I think they are both a comfort and a challenge.  A comfort in that they are there summer after summer.  They all expect the other to be there.  They are a challenge in that they really are all different people and they are only brought together because they go to Sag Harbor each year.  None of them seem to be in contact through the rest of the year.

 

Status is determined in whatever you might have to offer up to the group.  Randy had the car and could buy the beer.  Benji and Reggie had the Empty House.  Marcus never seemed to have much to offer other than his friendship and you could tell that by the way he was treated.  He was always at the bottom.

 

I think Benji felt that he fit in with his Sag Harbor friends.  He wasn't the only black kid in the room when he was there.  It always seems easier to fit in when you FEEL you have more in common with your environment.  I'm not through the entire book, so I don't know if his private-school friends are mentioned much.  Just through the early chapters and the glimpses you get into Benji's mind I get the feel that he has more in common with his private-school friends.  He may feel out of place because he looks different, but it seems that his thoughts may be more in common with them.  I could be totally wrong, but in the early reading that is the feeling I get.

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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Friendships

So far, it doesn't feel disjointed to me but I haven't finished the book and I won't say how far I am into it, but I have to admit, I too have that "when is the story going to start" feeling. I feel like I am hearing "about the story to come" and not connecting "to" a story yet. Interesting stuff, but, oh what is the saying, if you can't connect with a book in the first 50 pages.....? Anyway, ok I am beyond the 50 page mark and feel like its been the ads for a movie, know what I mean? You get a lot of info from ads for movies but you don't know if you are going to like the whole thing or if its just not going to go anywhere. This far in, I need to feel in the story with someone, I need to be 'riding shotgun" with someone with a feeling we are going somewhere, a great adventure, not just cruising cause there is nothing else to do. The author does have a really great way of describing things and bringing back memories, but where is the story? hmm We will see tho right? :smileywink:

 

 


kren250 wrote:

lisadiane wrote:

Like his writing, Benji seems to stay a distance from his friends.  He describes them wonderfully and I love the way the author uses words!  So fun and yet it paints a great picture.  However,  I am finding it difficult to feel for the characters.  I keep thinking- "when is the story going to start? "

 

It almost feels like a set of essays.

 

What do you think?  Am I off track?

 

Lisa


 

Lisa, that's how I've felt about this book too. I really enjoyed the writing, but the plot itself just didn't do it for me. I thought it felt disjointed, and skipped around too much. As soon as I really started to get into a certain part, it would end and we'd be on to the next.

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Friendships

It is funny, in response to your question about friendship, I thought, they are like "old shoes", they fit  together. They are really comfortable with each other. I have friends like that. No matter how much time or distance separates us, on the phone or in person, even after months, we just start talking like we last spoke yesterday. Their relationship with their friends is the kind that brings smiles to my face. They have an easy going congeniality and work out their problems with some kind of  "inner" group mentality. They just kind of collected each other and fell in step with each other. I did feel sorry for Marcus. He seemed to be the "nice kid" who would deal with whatever they did just so he could be with them, be included. They bantered with each other but they also seemed to respect and understand each other and knew their place within the hierarchy of the group.
Having a car was then and is now, a right of passage. He who has the car is king. Wheels provide freedom and a whole new dimension to the life of a teen. I was surprised that they were allowed to go riding around with their friends but then again, there was no adult supervision and the rules of behavior were not that well defined. I think they just knew what they could and couldn't do or what was within the realm of acceptable. Probably if they didn't behave well, someone would have reported back to their parents.
In private school, Benji and Reggie are different. Most of their friends are from diverse backgrounds. Many are white and Jewish. They behave more formally, more well mannered, because it is expected. In Sag Harbor they are less formal, more relaxed. Summer is for fun. They hang out. Their friends are mostly black. They dress informally aware that some clothes signal the white world and some the black world. Even their speech patterns change. It must be hard to have a foot in two different worlds, yet they seem comfortable with it. 
So far, I like the style of the book. I feel like I am getting a glimpse or a taste of  their lives rather than being immersed into it and I assume that in the end, all the pieces will come together.  I have only read the first two chapters, so I will have to see if I am right.
twj

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RoxyTheBookSlut
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎01-29-2009

Re: Friendships

When the kids arrive at Sag Horbor it is in many ways as if they never left - the friendships pick right back up where they were, but then so do the competitions.

 

Status is determined by who has what and who does not have what.  Who has a pool, who has a car, who does not have parental supervision.  There is also status determination based on when they get out and how long they are out for, though it does not seem to be as important to the kids as it is to the adults.

 

Each group of friends has its own comforts and challenges.  With the Sag Harbor group Benji has history, he is like them in that they are all from affluent black families, they have been together every summer since they were babies, they have certain things in common.  They are a challenge because he must keep up certain appearances, because he has to worry about where he is on the pecking order, he has to worry if he is black enough (handshakes, slang terms, knowledge of Famous Black People).  With his school friends he also has certain things in common though they are different things.  All of the kids at school are from families with enough money to afford the school, he wears the same clothes as these kids, they share interests, they share favorite ways of spending free time (such as D&D), favorite types of music and movies, etc.  There are also challenges - mainly due to him being the only black student and not Jewish.  There are parts of his world that the other students will never truly understand and vice versa.  I think that he needed both groups for completeness, both were important to his life and to who he is - especially since we are talking about a time in American history when finding a group of friends who met both needs would have been nearly impossible.  In some ways I feel sorry for him.  Fitting into and taking comfort from either group would in itself have been somewhat of a challenge to his ability to fit in with and take comfort for the other group.  I know the feeling of living in 2 worlds and having those worlds be pretty well opposite, it is hard.

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deaver
Posts: 35
Registered: ‎02-04-2009
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Re: Friendships

Something else that determined status was illustrated through Clive.  Ben says he was just 'Cool'.  He was extremely good at sports and he could win at a game of basketball if he played him against all the rest of the gang at once.  Also, he was able to beat the other kids up.  This is always a means of popularity for males it seems.  Athletic supremacy.

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

It is so interesting that the boys are so not alike but yet they are close in most ways. They seek who is available when they come "out."  And then they weigh their options of what will keep them occupied.  I am sure they have had alot of carefree summers when their sister watched over them. Ben seems to indicate he didn't like that but I can't believe he hadn't felt any comfort with her in charge and he was free to be a kid. I know the summers I had to babysit I felt so attached or something holding me back from being a free teen and of course it was. I worried about the stove blowing up, which it was a rinky dinky old thing but it never blew on me and the refrig that would never run right. I guess alot comes to mind when you read about others when they were teenagers.
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Tarri
Posts: 457
Registered: ‎02-26-2007
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Re: Friendships

As I was reading the opening chapters about the coming back together of the group, I wondered what the advent of cell phones would do to summer friendships.  It could really add to the group dynamic. 

 

Would they keep in touch over the winter?

Would the be closer or more estranged if they spoke or texted all year round?  

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mchwest
Posts: 11
Registered: ‎08-15-2008
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Re: Friendships

Being the mother of a teenage daughter, funny, the cellphone thing went through my mind too! Friendships of summer last longer for different reasons, remember Sandy in Grease? She was friends with the hot guy until they discovered they were in high school together...OK, anyway, it seems there are less inhibitions when you think people don't know the real you, and friendships have less drama to uncover over just the summer. Take it from a "summer " child, the white end of the beach was no different. Even though we were only out for a month, the ice cubes in the glass, starting early afternoon and people stopping in for the use of facilities and ice, the author hits it right on the head. Mr. Whitehead, I think, is very well written, and as far as I'm concerned the story is ongoing, just like life, I'm thoroughly enjoying the book!
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Dances_through_Books
Posts: 25
Registered: ‎12-02-2008
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Re: Friendships

The friendships in Sag Harbor allow the children to relax and be their true selves. I see the handshake as the test, to get over the fear that everyone has changed and won't be the same friends they were the year before. The handshakes give them unity, but also serve as an ice-breaker to starting the summer together as friends again. No matter how different these boys act each year or look, they will always have Sag Harbor and they will always have each other.
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lisadiane
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎01-31-2009
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Re: Friendships

Hmm- I agree with so many of the contributors here.  I wish I was thinking. "Oh what is going to happen next?"  I want something to happen to the characters!

 

I almost feel like I'm reading a grown up version of the Ramona series.  Remember how each chapter had Ramona interacting with her friends but it was all benign.

 

Still- I am enjoying the descriptions and can certainly relate to some of the topics.

 

Lisa

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dhaupt
Posts: 11,836
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Friendships

Another thing that was exciting to me about this book was getting into the mindset of a teenage boy/s. I'm female and I only have daughters so that was incredibly interesting to me. It's almost like discovering a new species and it brought to mind the book Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus and how true it is.
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Silvia
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎01-21-2009
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Re: Friendships

How do Benji and his friends interact when they meet up with eachother each summer at Sag Harb

 The friends seem to pick up where they left off the year before.  They have the new handshakes, new music to listen to, and they all seem happy to see each other.

 

Are the friends more of a comfort or a challenge to each other?

I think the friends are both a comfort and a challenge.

 

 How is status determined in these friendships?

 Status is determined by a variety of things. Perception, looks, ownership of a car, empty-house status, etc....

 

 Can you compare Benji's Sag Harbor friends with his private-school friends at home?

In private school, Benji and Reggie are different. They behave more formally, more well mannered, because it is expected of them. In Sag Harbor they are less formal, more relaxed.

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Jennd1
Posts: 75
Registered: ‎01-28-2008
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Re: Friendships

Whie the friends have their own social network Benji always feels somewhat left out at first because the culture at his private school is very different and very white or rich.  The friends also have the same shared history.The first thing you do when yoiu arive is find out who's 'out" and where that puts you in the current social setup which will change as people arrive and leave.
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Tasses
Posts: 117
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Friendships

I'm jumping in here because I've been looking over the threads and couldn't find a point to jump....

 

I agree 100% that the author has a wonderful way of painting a vivid scene with his words, but I'm also very disconnected from the characters. Each section does seem a separate essay and this is probably another contributing factor for my lack of interest in any particular character. 

See all my reviews at: Reading Rumpus and Many A Quaint & Curious Volume
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jabrkeKB
Posts: 164
Registered: ‎11-15-2008
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Re: Friendships

Benji and his friends seem to pick up where they left off last summer.

 

I think Benji feels very comfortable with his friends at Sag Harbor. They grew up sharing their summers together.

 

Benji doesn't say too much about his private school friends other than the fact that he feels like he is out of place in the neighborhood.

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lareinaMK
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎02-05-2009
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Re: Friendships

The typical summer resort friendships: play together for three months, don't see each other for nine months.  I think that because the friendships are based on that partial knowledge, it's hard to draw them multidimensionally. 

Parts of the book I was able to connect with, other parts not at all, perhaps because I'm a white woman Colson's mother's age!  But summer resort towns, I think, are the same all over, so on that level, having spent every summer of my life in a summer resort, I could connect with several generations. 

I did find it hard to get into the book, but once I was there I loved it. 

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Darbys_Closet
Posts: 29
Registered: ‎11-30-2008
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Re: Friendships

I like the summer friendships for they are just that "summer friends" and their relationships are defined by the current summer along with the ones they have shared previously.  To an extent it reminds me of the summers my family used to go to the beach and we'd run into families we had met there previously, yet my parents were always around and so was my kid brother.

 

A note to others in this book club that were also in the previous one, if we thought AFA was disjointed, this one to me seems even more so.  For I feel as thou I could end one chapter and then skip ahead several chapters, start reading and still not really grasp where this book is going.  In AFA, the chapters were like a brief visit to each characters diary the chapters in this book feels like an on-going paragraph you'd find on the back of the books cover.  You know the one that tells you to read the book to figure out what the book is about.

 

Thoughts?

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jabrkeKB
Posts: 164
Registered: ‎11-15-2008
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Re: Friendships


Darbys_Closet wrote:

A note to others in this book club that were also in the previous one, if we thought AFA was disjointed, this one to me seems even more so.  For I feel as thou I could end one chapter and then skip ahead several chapters, start reading and still not really grasp where this book is going.  In AFA, the chapters were like a brief visit to each characters diary the chapters in this book feels like an on-going paragraph you'd find on the back of the books cover.  You know the one that tells you to read the book to figure out what the book is about.

 

Thoughts?


I completely agree with you.  This book is not exactly what I thought it would be.

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JAmber
Posts: 15
Registered: ‎02-07-2009
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Re: Friendships

I feel that Benji enjoys both sets of friends. He seems a little more relaxed with his Sag Harbor friends, he isn't good at the handshakes but no one points it out. They pick on eachother, but that is different than expressing yourself and being made fun of at school. And I don't think he feels that he fits in with their crowd. At home, with the white kids, he has a lot of friends and people like him but can't express his true feelings without unwanted consequences.
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PinkBaby
Posts: 83
Registered: ‎09-03-2008
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Re: Friendships

i think  benjis friends are very interesting. i will have to admit it is a change to see the life of  african-american teenagers  portrayed in a book. i havent read that before. the slang is interesting to kinda of funny. as i said at first i didnt think i would like this book but so far it has proved to be a very good book.:smileyvery-happy: