11-10-2008 10:30 PM
Before our discussion draws to its close this Friday, I'd like us all to take some time to highlight any favorite moments or passages from the book.
One moment I find particularly touching is just after the family finds out Joel has died:
"Karla stayed behind to wake up Lenny and Rosa. When they arrived in Joel's room a few minutes later, they found Audrey lying on the bed, rocking Joel in her arms. No one spoke. It was inconceivable that Audrey would accept their efforts to console her, and there was no room here for their own grief. They stood for a few moments, watching their mother cry, and then, silently, they crept away."
It's sad that they cannot all come together and be unified by their loss but at least Karla, Rosa, and Lenny band together as siblings. And it's the first time, to my recollection, that we see real, demonstrable tenderness from Audrey toward Joel .
11-11-2008 10:14 PM
I have a soft spot in my heart for this line expressed by Khaled to Karla. As she refuses to accept the flowers he's offering to her Khaled says "I know you don't need them," he said. "I just want you to have some." He held the bouquet in his outstretched fist, like the Statue of Liberty with her torch. I think this is especially meaningful because he is the foreigner and he is basically offering her freedom from the life she leads with Mike. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..........
"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader
"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
The Time Traveler's Wife
It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
11-12-2008 03:10 PM
the passage you mentioned is the one I also found the most memorable to me, however I looked at it just a little differently than you did.
I felt like the children were giving their parents one last moment of private intimacy before bringing in the reality of death and permanent loss. I thought it was touching and I found it to be a show of respect from children to their parents.
11-14-2008 02:46 PM
Chapter 20...As Rosa and Karla are leaving their meeting with Berenice:
"He was a liar. He betrayed us, he stole from us. Every time he saw that woman, he was giving her attention and time that was rightfully ours."...Rosa
This passage made me sit up straight. Any adult child of divorce could probably relate to the feeling of betrayal expressed here. As I often tell my friends, a divorce to the couple involved is a blip on the radar of their lives. But to the children of that union, it is forever a part of your life and your relationship decision-making in the future.
No expectations..No disappointments
11-14-2008 05:27 PM
Sylvia, I also like Karla's thoughts in response to that statement by Rosa. She says, "Try as she might, she could not think of herself as a victim of her father's sin. Whatever energy her father had expended on Berenice, it had surely not been embezzled from a finite family supply. To the extent that Berenice had made Joel happy, it was perfectly possible that Karla and her sister -- even her mother -- had actually benefitted from the affair."
This is a completely different take on it, but very thought-provoking!
11-14-2008 07:33 PM
My favorite passage was also in Chapter 20 when Rosa and Karla were leaving Bernice's apartment and Rosa was saying that Joel was a liar and that he betrayed them and stole from them...taking time that was rightfully theirs. After saying all this, Rosa said that she was sorry and that Karla, of all people did not need a lecture on being good. I really felt that Karla had come into her own when she said, "I'm not that good." I saw this as a defining moment for Karla. She was having a hard time seeing the bad in Joel's affair because she felt like her affair had made her a better person.
11-19-2008 06:29 PM
I have several favorite parts, but chapter 17 was particularly funny to me. I loved the way Zoe Heller described how Karla had always "dreaded summer"...and the "floaty fabrics, bare flesh, and open toes" then by comparison she goes on to describe how Karla goes about choosing her outfit for her trist with Khaled and described the "rubbery girdle" and then opted for a "tent-size, calf length black dress that her mother had once told her made her look like the prow of a ship. She was, she thought, a coically implausible adulteress". (p. 252)
I laughed out loud...
Then on p. 253, "She approached ....slowly, as if the secret of her assignation were held in a bowl on her head, and it was only by maintaining the most serupulously even gait that she could keep it from sloshing on the carpet"
That was so well-written!
I have to say that the book is chock-full of such jewels!
"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
12-01-2008 11:33 AM
One of my favorite passages occurs on page 42. Audrey has just left the hospital building so that she can use her cell phone to tell her children that all is not well with Joel.
"She put the phone away and sat quietly on the bench for a moment, taking in the insulting normalcy of the scene around her."
This rang so true for me. During the time I was reading this novel, my 92-year-old mother was hospitalized with a very serious heart condition, and, when I left her bedside each evening and walked to where my car was parked, I recall feeling very vividly the "insulting normalcy" of the world around me.