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Distinguished Bibliophile
KathyS
Posts: 6,893
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters - my thoughts


rkubie wrote:

 

Did anyone try the recipe?  I'm rather keen to.

 

Interesting that neither Anna nor Teodor join in the prayer.


Haven't tried it yet, but hope to before the end of the month. If you whip it up, please post your results!

 

 

And a question based on that last observation: Does anyone find any family resemblance anywhere between Ann and Teodor?


 

I made the soup, only I altered it slightly.  It was to die for! (sorry, poor choice of words!) I'll post my version of it in the Com Room.

 

Resemblance between Anna and Teodor?  I was noticing the differences more than the likenesses.  Both were reticent in their own way.  They stood back until coaxed into the circumstance. 

 

 

Frequent Contributor
deannafrances
Posts: 77
Registered: ‎07-19-2008
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I too was bothered by the use of present tense.  I wonder if it is an age related issue?

I am 61 and went to Catholic schools where I do not have the fondest of memories, I know we learned much more than the public school in our area (Northern Ohio)--we even had a year of World Literature---but putting that aside--- we were taught sentence construction and parsing of sentences.  I do not think that is even approached in schools any longer so I wonder if the fact I and some others find the use of the present tense to be difficult to deal with has to do with our childhood educations.

 

I spoke rather that I speak---because no matter how near you are to the retelling of a story --it has always passed and is in the past.

 

 

Inspired Contributor
Linda10
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎10-02-2007

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer


rkubie wrote:

biljounc63 wrote:

I found it interesting when Katya thought that the host was actually the Body of Christ and was afraid that it would run out so she spit out it out and saved it as a "dough ball". She did try to save it from the fire and is ended up dissolving in the water as she was escaping the fire. She thought that she had killed Christ. You never know what children pick up on and believe. I remember as a kid in the 60's that any music played on the radio was being preformed on the live at the radio station.


 

Yes! This was both comic (because the ball of spit-welded dough is a bit gross) and heartrending because it's such a truly genuine and brutal disappointment for her-She's so literal, so young!

 

I haven't posted anything thus far on this book.  I was going to wait until next week, I think it is, when Shandi and her editor will be here.  But as long as this topic has been brought up, I might as well say it now.

 

When Katya spits out Christ, this is not comic nor cute.  It is blasphemous.  No, I'm not going to rip out anyone's throat here.  But I would be amiss if I didn't say anything at all.  I'm giving these two posters as well as Shandi the benefit of the doubt, thinking that they don't know any better.  Being Catholic (and I know others of you are too), we are taught that the Host is, indeed, the body and blood of Christ.  We are taught this in our catechism before we make our First Communion so that we will respect God's body.  If Katya is old enough to be receiving Holy Communion, then she's also been taught to respect the Host.  This is why I say that I feel that Shandi doesn't know any better or else she would never have put this into her story.  At the very least, it's historically incorrect information.

 

I will even go so far as to ask, even urge, Shandi and her editor to remove these portions before the final printing of the book.  In doing so, it would not interfere with the main plot of the story whatsoever.  After all, we are the First Lookers.  We get to comment on things we don't like as well as what we do like.  This is our opportunity to have any changes made.  (And I know this has been done in the past.  Vivico had a discussion, along with some others, with Lisa See; and Lisa actually did make some changes.)

 

I know that some (or even a lot) of you are going to scream censorship.  I'm prepared to hear that.  But there's a huge difference between leaving out, for example, the "F" word and blasphemy.  There's a point where people cross the line; and this is one of them.

 

For those of you who may not understand why my fur is flying, let's use this as an example.  Let's say that Katya, instead, drew pictures of the Star of David.  Then after every time she drew one, she would then spit on it OR throw it into the fire while laughing OR took it with her to the outhouse so she could use it to "finish up her business."  I think there would be an outpouring of outrage.

 

I know that I'm going to get slammed here for this post.  So be it.  If one can't stand up for their religious beliefs, then we no longer live in a free society.  Tolerance is a two-way street.  But I can't, in good conscience, just sit back and say or do nothing.  I love God.  Like I said, I'm giving Shandi and the posters the benefit of the doubt.  But I feel people need to understand how important this truly is.  If no one teaches you, then how do you learn?

 

Inspired Correspondent
bookloverjb85
Posts: 168
Registered: ‎10-12-2007
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer


GadgetgirlKS wrote:

I am trying something new...I am going to post first then read everyone else's answers. Does anyone else do this? After I read everyone's posts I often feel I have nothing new to add, so maybe this way I will add something new or slightly different. 

 


I do the same thing.  I post what I think and want to say, then I read everyone else's posts.  I was finding the same thing as you, that I had nothing else to add to other's posts.  Even if you repeat something someone says  it might come from a different point of view and make others see it with a different perspective.

--Jen--

"A house without books is like a room without windows."--Horace Mann
Correspondent
timetravel
Posts: 97
Registered: ‎03-31-2009
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Linda L Wrote:

 

I know that I'm going to get slammed here for this post.  So be it.  If one can't stand up for their religious beliefs, then we no longer live in a free society.  Tolerance is a two-way street.  But I can't, in good conscience, just sit back and say or do nothing.  I love God.  Like I said, I'm giving Shandi and the posters the benefit of the doubt.  But I feel people need to understand how important this truly is.  If no one teaches you, then how do you learn?

 

 

 

 

Linda, I think your views are valid, and I always appreciate others viewpoints.  Not being Catholic, I would not have thought of this.  I once reviewed a book in which the author called traditional people of faith "Bible Thumpers".  The book got a good review from me, but I did mention that I thought this was a strange description.  I got a nice note from the author telling me that they were going to remove it from future printings.

Correspondent
jabrkeKB
Posts: 164
Registered: ‎11-15-2008
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Maria so far seems to be the "glue" that holds the family together.

 

Anna is not living the life she thought she would be and she is coming undone. It is sad that her children have to endure her anguish with her.

 

I wasn't surprised by the family's warmth toward Teodor, they knew he was treated unjustly and they were happy to have him home.

 

It is amazing what these people had to do just to survive.

Contributor
JeniferKAllison
Posts: 15
Registered: ‎07-06-2009

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

My first impression upon opening the book is of joy and love.  The children strike me instantly and Mitchell portrays their childlike nature perfectly in the barn.  The levity quickly changes with the approach of a 'strange' man and although I instinctively knew it was their father, I breathed a sigh of relief when Maria looked into his eyes.  The first glimpse we get of Maria, I believe, shows her nature.  Her hands are raw from the hard work and this is a true image of her.  Always working and sacrificing anything for her family. 

 

We get an idea of how long 2 years really is in this type of life when we see how the children and Maria react to him.  How much space they give him at first, and how much reverence.   We see how important he is to all of them.  His return was not so much hardened as it was hard.  He was broken, or nearly so.  But it is still obvious, I thought, that his family loves, adores, him.  Maria and the children have been waiting for their husband and father to come home and his return is their light at the end of the tunnel.  The reader gets the feeling, once Theo wakes from his days of rest, that the family feels all will be okay now that Father is home.  

 

Our first glimpse at Anna is through her brothers eyes and at first I did not know what to make of her.  How could she, I thought, be ashamed of him when he was only trying to help his family, when he only took what was 'his'?  Later I come to believe she was not ashamed of him, but gravely so of herself.  We also get a sense that she is a care provider, she "took his family in".  This is a fallacy.  The next moment we get a better idea of what Anna really is, or has become at least, when we meet her staring into her own eyes in the window.  We learn that she was once a beauty deserving of verse and we get some idea of why she may be the way she is when her husband is introduced as useless.  

When we finally meet Anna in full we know in the first paragraph that it is her husband that has broken her completely, we don't yet know exactly how, but we know it is true.  We learn just a few lines down of the first time he rapes her.  It is then, in that moment, that we see her true nature - it was too late and so she gave up.  We also learn more of her beauty and her passion, as well as her vainity and ignorance.  We see that she was 'gifted' when it came to men and chose this man because of his stature in the eyes of those around her.  And, we can surmise that this life she is living is far from what she has imagined for herself.  Anna though, instead of stepping up and being strong (as we know Maria has), Anna has allowed herself to be weak, beaten (granted, literally), and finally broken.  Perhaps it is not her fault, perhaps she was born that way.

At first the reader may believe that Anna's longing for the coyotes is her old self hanging on, her 'fearless' self, but it is not.  It is yet one more expression of her weakness, she is not longing for freedom, but for escape, which are not always the same thing.  

 

As the story goes on we learn more and more about the family and can see one theme repeating its self over and over, the family survives, has always survived, because of the love and sacrifice of Theo and Maria.  These parents have always made the hard choices and have done what ever needed to be done to ensure that their family would survive and stay together.  Even without the most basic of necessities at times, the family is strong and survives because the parents lead by example.  They sacrifice and they work hard and their children see this and do the same w/out question, for the most part (which is to be expected from children).

 

It was certain, in my eyes, that the family would again meet tragedy, and quickly.  Because we see so soon Theo growing stronger, the family re-bonded, the children and Maria thriving.  We meet the children and quickly come to love them.  We watch as the family blossoms with the spring, and we know somewhere deep down that their figurative winter will come before too long. 

 

As the reader we are swept up in the story so much that I found myself praying along with Maria for her garden, we know that without it they will be lost.  And, we don't want that to happen, we love this family.  When the fire comes, we feel the heat, we feel the fear, we want to beat the fire down along with Theo and the children and we cry when Theo send them away and stays behind to continue fighting.  The fear that Theo is lost in the fire is palpable, and we wait with baited breath to learn how much grain we have lost. 

 

I say we because by now the Reader is fully vested in this story, so much so that it feels like our own.  

 

When the fire is gone it is through Maria's eyes that we see and know that they will make it, when she steps aside to reveal the undamaged wheat to her husband a sigh of relief escapes.

 

We see next how hard this life really is and what that hardness can do to people, to children even.  We watch as the children work with Theo in the field.  Working until they are delirious with thirst.  Can any of us imagine that?  They know, in the very core of their being, that their life depends on this crop.

 

We see again here as well the type of woman that Maria is when she cares for Anna, knowing her secret and her weakness.  I had to wonder, would I be so good a woman as she is?  

 

When the dust finally settles, literally, we are left wondering; will the family drop from the sky as the sparrows did?  Knowing Maria and Theo as we do now, we know that they will not, somehow they will survive.  But for the life of me, I could not fathom how.  

 

 

 

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bookworm_gp
Posts: 58
Registered: ‎12-04-2008
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I too was bothered by the use of present tense.  I wonder if it is an age related issue?

I spoke rather that I speak---because no matter how near you are to the retelling of a story --it has always passed and is in the past. _________________________________________

 

Could be. I'm your age.

And I just don't see it that often. I review books for a magazine and I can count on one hand those written in present tense.

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GReba
Posts: 33
Registered: ‎07-24-2009
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

As I am still early on in the book, I will refrain from speculating, however even at this beginning stage you can see how hard it would be on the families living in this time and place.  Can you imagine being hunted down because you saved some extra food for your families survival?  In our lands of plenty nowadays, a lot of the availability and sttus get taken for granted.  Unfortunately, many have faced (and some may still) these "horrors" not knowing if they would make it out.

 

Very compelling (to me anyway)...continuing on...

Frequent Contributor
fordmg
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Linda, I am not going to "slam" you for your comments, but I don't think that this section of the story should be deleted.  I respect your thoughts of blasphemy, but this does add to the total story.  Even though a child has been instructed in religious theology, it doesn't mean that the child really understands, and this is what I think Shandi is showing here.  It is poignant that Katya really thinks that she can save her family.  It is an obvious misunderstanding of chuch teaching, but she is not directly defying the church.  It is her misguided understanding of how things work.  Katya's devastation in the lake when she realizes that nothing can same them is real.  It is how children learn and is not meant to be a blasphemous statement toward religion.  When the family moved and Katya was hysterical looking for her saved "goo", no one in the family understood what her problem, and it wasn't addressed.  This also shows how misunderstanding happen and are not corrected.  So I think taking it out would alter the character.  There is not a better way to show where Katya's place in the family lies.

 

MG


Linda10 wrote:

rkubie wrote:

biljounc63 wrote:

I found it interesting when Katya thought that the host was actually the Body of Christ and was afraid that it would run out so she spit out it out and saved it as a "dough ball". She did try to save it from the fire and is ended up dissolving in the water as she was escaping the fire. She thought that she had killed Christ. You never know what children pick up on and believe. I remember as a kid in the 60's that any music played on the radio was being preformed on the live at the radio station.


 

Yes! This was both comic (because the ball of spit-welded dough is a bit gross) and heartrending because it's such a truly genuine and brutal disappointment for her-She's so literal, so young!

 

I haven't posted anything thus far on this book.  I was going to wait until next week, I think it is, when Shandi and her editor will be here.  But as long as this topic has been brought up, I might as well say it now.

 

When Katya spits out Christ, this is not comic nor cute.  It is blasphemous.  No, I'm not going to rip out anyone's throat here.  But I would be amiss if I didn't say anything at all.  I'm giving these two posters as well as Shandi the benefit of the doubt, thinking that they don't know any better.  Being Catholic (and I know others of you are too), we are taught that the Host is, indeed, the body and blood of Christ.  We are taught this in our catechism before we make our First Communion so that we will respect God's body.  If Katya is old enough to be receiving Holy Communion, then she's also been taught to respect the Host.  This is why I say that I feel that Shandi doesn't know any better or else she would never have put this into her story.  At the very least, it's historically incorrect information.

 

I will even go so far as to ask, even urge, Shandi and her editor to remove these portions before the final printing of the book.  In doing so, it would not interfere with the main plot of the story whatsoever.  After all, we are the First Lookers.  We get to comment on things we don't like as well as what we do like.  This is our opportunity to have any changes made.  (And I know this has been done in the past.  Vivico had a discussion, along with some others, with Lisa See; and Lisa actually did make some changes.)

 

I know that some (or even a lot) of you are going to scream censorship.  I'm prepared to hear that.  But there's a huge difference between leaving out, for example, the "F" word and blasphemy.  There's a point where people cross the line; and this is one of them.

 

For those of you who may not understand why my fur is flying, let's use this as an example.  Let's say that Katya, instead, drew pictures of the Star of David.  Then after every time she drew one, she would then spit on it OR throw it into the fire while laughing OR took it with her to the outhouse so she could use it to "finish up her business."  I think there would be an outpouring of outrage.

 

I know that I'm going to get slammed here for this post.  So be it.  If one can't stand up for their religious beliefs, then we no longer live in a free society.  Tolerance is a two-way street.  But I can't, in good conscience, just sit back and say or do nothing.  I love God.  Like I said, I'm giving Shandi and the posters the benefit of the doubt.  But I feel people need to understand how important this truly is.  If no one teaches you, then how do you learn?

 


 

Correspondent
nlsamson
Posts: 104
Registered: ‎03-18-2009

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Linda, Wow!  I have to say that I understand what you are saying, but personally I think there is a huge difference between what has been written regarding Katya and her understanding of the Body of Christ, and a child drawing the star of David and then using it to basically wipe their butt!  (and for the record I too am a catholic)!




For those of you who may not understand why my fur is flying, let's use this as an example.  Let's say that Katya, instead, drew pictures of the Star of David.  Then after every time she drew one, she would then spit on it OR throw it into the fire while laughing OR took it with her to the outhouse so she could use it to "finish up her business."  I think there would be an outpouring of outrage.

 

I know that I'm going to get slammed here for this post.  So be it.  If one can't stand up for their religious beliefs, then we no longer live in a free society.  Tolerance is a two-way street.  But I can't, in good conscience, just sit back and say or do nothing.  I love God.  Like I said, I'm giving Shandi and the posters the benefit of the doubt.  But I feel people need to understand how important this truly is.  If no one teaches you, then how do you learn?

 


 


 

 

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away" - unknown
Distinguished Correspondent
Lil_Irish_Lass
Posts: 163
Registered: ‎11-21-2008
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer


m3girl wrote:
I have to agree with Lil_Irish_Lass about Leysa.  She might be my favorite of all of the characters.  She's a smart girl - she sees what her father is and what her mother has become and doesn't trust any of them.  She works hard and does her chores - I wish she lived in the big house on the hill instead of with her family!

 

Leysa really just seems like she could grow into really being the backbone of the family. Though the cynic in me worries about her life being cut short solely because she is so GOOD and lives a simple life unlike her cousin Sophia wanting to dress to the 9s with all the more well off Canadian teens rather than realizing the limits of the life she was born in to.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"No sensible man ever engages, unprepared, in a fencing match of words with a woman." - The Woman in White
Distinguished Bibliophile
Paul_Hochman
Posts: 2,801
Registered: ‎03-23-2007

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

[ Edited ]

Obviously, religion is a very close and controversial topic with many of us, but I would hate to see this thread, or the discussion in general, derailed by our personal beliefs whatever they may be.

 

At the end of the day we're discussing a really great work of fiction. Thank you. 

 


nlsamson wrote:

Linda, Wow!  I have to say that I understand what you are saying, but personally I think there is a huge difference between what has been written regarding Katya and her understanding of the Body of Christ, and a child drawing the star of David and then using it to basically wipe their butt!  (and for the record I too am a catholic)!




For those of you who may not understand why my fur is flying, let's use this as an example.  Let's say that Katya, instead, drew pictures of the Star of David.  Then after every time she drew one, she would then spit on it OR throw it into the fire while laughing OR took it with her to the outhouse so she could use it to "finish up her business."  I think there would be an outpouring of outrage.

 

I know that I'm going to get slammed here for this post.  So be it.  If one can't stand up for their religious beliefs, then we no longer live in a free society.  Tolerance is a two-way street.  But I can't, in good conscience, just sit back and say or do nothing.  I love God.  Like I said, I'm giving Shandi and the posters the benefit of the doubt.  But I feel people need to understand how important this truly is.  If no one teaches you, then how do you learn?

 


 


 

 


 

Message Edited by PaulH on 08-07-2009 10:53 AM
Contributor
readslots4
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎07-02-2009

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

In reference to the Body of Christ discussion,

 

I, too am a Catholic.  I have to say that on a personal level those scenes did make me a little uncomfortable.  Yet, I agree that Shandi is showing a child's perception of something that she may not understand.  I see every day through my own children how they can look at something so very differently, it helps me to remember how I once looked at things in such a way. 

 

Just a thought....

Distinguished Correspondent
Lil_Irish_Lass
Posts: 163
Registered: ‎11-21-2008

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Another aspect not being considered is potentially the language barrier. Wasn't Katya an infant when they fled the Ukraine? Which would mean that she is potentially going to church at an English speaking congregation. She's young and her parents don't have a strong handle on the English language... a lot could be lost in translation.

 

I'm not religious at all and have my own very strong beliefs on organized faith that have no place in this discussion but I have to say I don't think Mitchell added this to the story in any other way than a tangible example of the futility of life out on the prairies. Children have such a beautiful power of being able to see simple solutions to very complicated "adult" life problems. Katya's story arch in these two sections of the book in regards to the body of Christ show a painfully sad picture of a child trying to save her family in the only way she can think of (she even says she's spiting it out and saving it for her family in case the Church runs out and there is no more "body" left, she has very high regard for the body of Christ, more so than I'd venture to suggest than most of the adults kneeling around her)... she may not see the full religious significance of the body of Christ but after the fire she does believe that God wants to punish her because she lost her "goo" so she's not completely lacking knowledge of or respect for the religious aspects of Holy Communion.

I agree with fordmg - Katya story arch here needs to stay as it's her piece of the puzzle and crucial to getting the larger point across. It's her part to play and she plays it well. She has no malicious or outright disrespectful intentions unlike your example Linda with the Star of David.... there's a huge difference between a childhood misunderstanding of a religious practice and outright hatred/disrespect for said faith.

 


fordmg wrote:

Linda, I am not going to "slam" you for your comments, but I don't think that this section of the story should be deleted.  I respect your thoughts of blasphemy, but this does add to the total story.  Even though a child has been instructed in religious theology, it doesn't mean that the child really understands, and this is what I think Shandi is showing here.  It is poignant that Katya really thinks that she can save her family.  It is an obvious misunderstanding of chuch teaching, but she is not directly defying the church.  It is her misguided understanding of how things work.  Katya's devastation in the lake when she realizes that nothing can same them is real.  It is how children learn and is not meant to be a blasphemous statement toward religion.  When the family moved and Katya was hysterical looking for her saved "goo", no one in the family understood what her problem, and it wasn't addressed.  This also shows how misunderstanding happen and are not corrected.  So I think taking it out would alter the character.  There is not a better way to show where Katya's place in the family lies.

 

MG


Linda10 wrote:

 

 

I haven't posted anything thus far on this book.  I was going to wait until next week, I think it is, when Shandi and her editor will be here.  But as long as this topic has been brought up, I might as well say it now.

 

When Katya spits out Christ, this is not comic nor cute.  It is blasphemous.  No, I'm not going to rip out anyone's throat here.  But I would be amiss if I didn't say anything at all.  I'm giving these two posters as well as Shandi the benefit of the doubt, thinking that they don't know any better.  Being Catholic (and I know others of you are too), we are taught that the Host is, indeed, the body and blood of Christ.  We are taught this in our catechism before we make our First Communion so that we will respect God's body.  If Katya is old enough to be receiving Holy Communion, then she's also been taught to respect the Host.  This is why I say that I feel that Shandi doesn't know any better or else she would never have put this into her story.  At the very least, it's historically incorrect information.

 

I will even go so far as to ask, even urge, Shandi and her editor to remove these portions before the final printing of the book.  In doing so, it would not interfere with the main plot of the story whatsoever.  After all, we are the First Lookers.  We get to comment on things we don't like as well as what we do like.  This is our opportunity to have any changes made.  (And I know this has been done in the past.  Vivico had a discussion, along with some others, with Lisa See; and Lisa actually did make some changes.)

 

I know that some (or even a lot) of you are going to scream censorship.  I'm prepared to hear that.  But there's a huge difference between leaving out, for example, the "F" word and blasphemy.  There's a point where people cross the line; and this is one of them.

 

For those of you who may not understand why my fur is flying, let's use this as an example.  Let's say that Katya, instead, drew pictures of the Star of David.  Then after every time she drew one, she would then spit on it OR throw it into the fire while laughing OR took it with her to the outhouse so she could use it to "finish up her business."  I think there would be an outpouring of outrage.

 

I know that I'm going to get slammed here for this post.  So be it.  If one can't stand up for their religious beliefs, then we no longer live in a free society.  Tolerance is a two-way street.  But I can't, in good conscience, just sit back and say or do nothing.  I love God.  Like I said, I'm giving Shandi and the posters the benefit of the doubt.  But I feel people need to understand how important this truly is.  If no one teaches you, then how do you learn?

 


 


 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"No sensible man ever engages, unprepared, in a fencing match of words with a woman." - The Woman in White
Wordsmith
maude40
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I think it's interesting that Anna is so attached to the coyotes. It seems to be a way for her to get away from her battered past with Stefan. The coyotes take her anguish into the wild with them.

 

"In bed, she tries to imagine being dead. Would it feel any different than being alive? Could she still see? Would she know who she was, would she remember anything, would she be free? She has held a knife to her wrist. But she couldn't. She can't. That's when the coyotes first started to cry for her. They cried all through the night, and they've come back every night since. She tells them everything and they howl her pain. She wants to grow teeth and run wild." page 47.

 

It's a shame Anna's children have to have such a tortured mother. Yvonne

Frequent Contributor
nfmgirl
Posts: 36
Registered: ‎04-20-2009

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

First let me say: Loving this book!

 

Maria reminds somewhat of my own mother. On the surface she is somewhat gruff, even cold at times-- not the warmest person. However she is devoted to her family and self-sacrificing, and will do anything necessary to provide for them and keep them safe. I like Maria. I LOVE Teodor. He's a good man. Thoughtful and hard-working. He's determined to succeed for his family. I find Myron one of the most interesting characters. I'm interested in his taut relationship with his father, and curious to see where this goes and perhaps find out where it stems from.

 

I love all of the intricate personalities and nuances: Katya and her Jesus ball of dough, Lesya with her crippled foot and kinship with a crippled duck she calls Happiness, Ivan (who is just so much the typical little boy), Dania who plays the responsible older sister and shows some of the warmth that their mother Maria often lacks, Sophie who always just seems a little "lost in the shuffle" to me, Petro who seems to look to Teodor as his father and craves the family unit that Teodor and Maria have created for the their family

 

I'm still not sure what to make of Anna. I don't know whether she has lost her mind or what. It's as if something fragile within her shattered when her husband killed that coyote. She seems to identify with the shy and timid coyotes in the same way that Leysa identifies with Happiness. I know that she has been repeatedly raped and abused by her husband, but don't yet know just what this has done to her internally, or whether there is more to the background story on her.


I was concerned after Teodor's return, as he appeared cold and his family initially seemed hesitant and distant from him. Then as he recovered, the family began to soften and reach out to him, and he awoke as if he were reborn back into his life and I was happy to see what a warm father and husband he really is. I love how thoughtful he was in the building of the house-- the window he put in for Maria, the hooks on the wall that were placed at eye level for Ivan. The way he assuaged Ivan's fears that first night he accompanied him to the outhouse.

 

I can identify with the hard times that this family has endured, but for me I only see them now in retrospect. My mother has done such a good job sheltering us kids from the hard times, that it is only now that I realize how bad things were at times. In our existence, kids are just kids. They go to school and play and rely on their parents. In Maria and Teodor's world, the kids are an integral part of the working unit. Their hard work and cooperation is needed for the success of the family. The children don't have the luxury of just "being kids", and the parents don't have the luxury of being parents who can protect and shelter their children from everything that would harm them in the world.

 

You feel for this family and wonder "How much more will they be expected to take?" I can only hope that things will eventually get better, and good, hard-working people will get their just desserts.


Heather
http://cerebralgirl.blogspot.com/
Wordsmith
maude40
Posts: 357
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Anna is the most interesting character to me. On page 91 in the paragraph where she is laying in the field and opens her body to the sun, it seems she is letting her pregnant body be free of the tight corset she wears to deny the baby. Is she accepting the pregnancy? Why does she put fistfuls of dirt into her mouth?  Yvonne
Inspired Contributor
jbnie
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I disagree, these sections should stay in the book. They illustrate how children perceive things and what happens when adults, parents in this case, don't take an interest in their children. I realize that all the adults in the story are focused on survival, but it is only their survival not how their children are internalizing or rationalizing their own survival. I admire Shandi for outing it in, even though it is controversial.

 

Jane


Linda10 wrote:

rkubie wrote:

biljounc63 wrote:

I found it interesting when Katya thought that the host was actually the Body of Christ and was afraid that it would run out so she spit out it out and saved it as a "dough ball". She did try to save it from the fire and is ended up dissolving in the water as she was escaping the fire. She thought that she had killed Christ. You never know what children pick up on and believe. I remember as a kid in the 60's that any music played on the radio was being preformed on the live at the radio station.


 

Yes! This was both comic (because the ball of spit-welded dough is a bit gross) and heartrending because it's such a truly genuine and brutal disappointment for her-She's so literal, so young!

 

I haven't posted anything thus far on this book.  I was going to wait until next week, I think it is, when Shandi and her editor will be here.  But as long as this topic has been brought up, I might as well say it now.

 

When Katya spits out Christ, this is not comic nor cute.  It is blasphemous.  No, I'm not going to rip out anyone's throat here.  But I would be amiss if I didn't say anything at all.  I'm giving these two posters as well as Shandi the benefit of the doubt, thinking that they don't know any better.  Being Catholic (and I know others of you are too), we are taught that the Host is, indeed, the body and blood of Christ.  We are taught this in our catechism before we make our First Communion so that we will respect God's body.  If Katya is old enough to be receiving Holy Communion, then she's also been taught to respect the Host.  This is why I say that I feel that Shandi doesn't know any better or else she would never have put this into her story.  At the very least, it's historically incorrect information.

 

I will even go so far as to ask, even urge, Shandi and her editor to remove these portions before the final printing of the book.  In doing so, it would not interfere with the main plot of the story whatsoever.  After all, we are the First Lookers.  We get to comment on things we don't like as well as what we do like.  This is our opportunity to have any changes made.  (And I know this has been done in the past.  Vivico had a discussion, along with some others, with Lisa See; and Lisa actually did make some changes.)

 

I know that some (or even a lot) of you are going to scream censorship.  I'm prepared to hear that.  But there's a huge difference between leaving out, for example, the "F" word and blasphemy.  There's a point where people cross the line; and this is one of them.

 

For those of you who may not understand why my fur is flying, let's use this as an example.  Let's say that Katya, instead, drew pictures of the Star of David.  Then after every time she drew one, she would then spit on it OR throw it into the fire while laughing OR took it with her to the outhouse so she could use it to "finish up her business."  I think there would be an outpouring of outrage.

 

I know that I'm going to get slammed here for this post.  So be it.  If one can't stand up for their religious beliefs, then we no longer live in a free society.  Tolerance is a two-way street.  But I can't, in good conscience, just sit back and say or do nothing.  I love God.  Like I said, I'm giving Shandi and the posters the benefit of the doubt.  But I feel people need to understand how important this truly is.  If no one teaches you, then how do you learn?

 


 

New User
Claire-Wachtel
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎07-08-2009

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Hello, everyone,

 

 

I'd like to introduce myself as Shandi Mitchell's U.S. editor. Over the past year, I have collabroated with Shandi's Canadian and British editors to bring this marvelous book into your hands and to make this international publication as successful as possible.

 

 

Though I have worked in publishing for 28 years, seldom have I come across a debut novel so beautiful and haunting. A little back story. I first read this novel just over a year ago. It came to me as a double-spaced Word document, looking nothing like the book pages you are now holding. I remember reading Shandi's early manuscript on my lap, on the train (with nothing but a rubber band to hold it all together!), when I first came to the harrowing fire scene. I distinctly recall this moment in the book because I missed my train stop entirely. And that's when I realized how enthralled I was with Shandi's writing - - how completely immersed I had become in the world that she had so powerfully created. Of course, I then caught the next train headed in the opposite direction and rushed home to read onward. When I later showed the manuscript to Harper's publisher, Jonathan Burnham, he agreed that it was one of the best novels he had read all year. And the rest is history.

 

 

I couldn't agree more with JeniferKAllison when she writes:


When the fire comes, we feel the heat, we feel the fear, we want to beat the fire down along with Theo and the children and we cry when Theo send them away and stays behind to continue fighting.  The fear that Theo is lost in the fire is palpable, and we wait with baited breath to learn how much grain we have lost. 

 

I say we because by now the Reader is fully vested in this story, so much so that it feels like our own.  


That was the exact moment, too, that I felt fully vested in this story. Lucky for me, I was in a position to share this moment with thousands upon thousands of other readers who might see the same beauty, feel the same heat, and ultimately make the same investment in Shandi's story that I did.

 

 

I've been reading your thoughtful comments for several days, and, having gotten a better feel for your interests and concerns, I'm happy to join the discussion. Let me begin by asking a couple of questions that are always on my mind as an editor: Are the characters believable to you? Do they transport you to a time and place?

 

 

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!