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Claire-Wachtel
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall


Sheltiemama wrote:

The more I read, the more I was struck by the animal symbolism, too.


Sheltiemama, I also was struck by the animals in Shandi's writing. They almost become characters in their own right - - from Petro and Ivan's barn cat in the opening scenes, to Lesya's little chick, to Anna's coyotes, to Myron's rabbits. The Mykolayenko family members interact with the animals around them in such complex and fascinating ways. Some of the animals provide a means of survival (food, saleable goods); others, though part of the wild frontier, are nonetheless more than simple backdrop and seem to play a more menacing role.

 

How do you feel about Shandi's descriptions of animals? Are other people picking up on any animal symbolism in Shandi's writing?

 

And did you notice the tiny coyote on the book cover?

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jabrkeKB
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

Autumn--They need to get ready for the bitter cold of the winter. Food needs tobe stored and the fire must always be burning.

 

Survival-Theo and his son's bargaining for the wheat price.

             The stained blanket, Maria wants to throw it out but her daughter cleans it and   now it is used to help keep the house warm.

             Maria arguing with Theo about the alcohol, she knows it can be destructive.

             Katya trying to keep the fire going, even tho she uses the receipt.

 

Theo and Maria's house is about togetherness and warmth. The family has good times and works hard. Anna and Stefan's house is very dysfunctional. Both adults are very selfish.

 

I agree with Maria, Theo is dangerously proud but sometimes I feel like he is hanging by a thread.

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DSaff
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

Anna knows that if Stefan has money he will go to town and drink it away. She would once again be alone. I think her lie is just a way to hang on to him.


lmpmn wrote:

Can someone help me with this question?

 

Teodor went over to Anna's to give her the $10.00, right?  Stefan went outside so they could speak privately, and Ivan and Lesya witnessed what happened.  Later, Anna told Stefan that Teodor gave the money directly to the land office.  I'm assuming she lied to him and hid the money, but I don't remember anything mentioned again about what happened to the money for sure.  What do you all think?  Did Anna squirrel it away somewhere or did she tell the truth about Teodor giving it to the land office?


 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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CathyB
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

I thought the $10.00 display was a gesture and that Teo took the money back and brought it to the land office the next day - I don't have my book with me so, I may just be having false memories.

 


DSaff wrote:

Anna knows that if Stefan has money he will go to town and drink it away. She would once again be alone. I think her lie is just a way to hang on to him.


lmpmn wrote:

Can someone help me with this question?

 

Teodor went over to Anna's to give her the $10.00, right?  Stefan went outside so they could speak privately, and Ivan and Lesya witnessed what happened.  Later, Anna told Stefan that Teodor gave the money directly to the land office.  I'm assuming she lied to him and hid the money, but I don't remember anything mentioned again about what happened to the money for sure.  What do you all think?  Did Anna squirrel it away somewhere or did she tell the truth about Teodor giving it to the land office?


 

 


 

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DSaff
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

I have just re-read pgs. 197 - 200, and it does look like Teodore took the money to town. I guess I thought Anna had hidden it in the tin when it was mentioned on pg. 198. Thanks for mentioning it, Cathy!  :smileyhappy:


CathyB wrote:

I thought the $10.00 display was a gesture and that Teo took the money back and brought it to the land office the next day - I don't have my book with me so, I may just be having false memories.

 


DSaff wrote:

Anna knows that if Stefan has money he will go to town and drink it away. She would once again be alone. I think her lie is just a way to hang on to him.


lmpmn wrote:

Can someone help me with this question?

 

Teodor went over to Anna's to give her the $10.00, right?  Stefan went outside so they could speak privately, and Ivan and Lesya witnessed what happened.  Later, Anna told Stefan that Teodor gave the money directly to the land office.  I'm assuming she lied to him and hid the money, but I don't remember anything mentioned again about what happened to the money for sure.  What do you all think?  Did Anna squirrel it away somewhere or did she tell the truth about Teodor giving it to the land office?


 

 


 


 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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retromom
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

I am posting before reading everyone's post. I see I have alot of catching up to do.

 

Can you describe the Autumn season in this rural Canadian climate?

Autumn sure seemed more like early Winter to me. The cold temperatures that early in the year were startling to me. I can't begin to imagine what winter will bring.

 

Now that Stefan has returned, we can see how each of these households operate-Can you compare what it's like to live inside each house?

The two households are as different as night and day. Theo and Maria use their supplies wisely and cautiously while Anna and Stefan think nothing of using a whole chicken at once or eating a jar of jam. Theo and Maria's children are made to feel secure while Anna's and Stefan children live in fear. Theo and Maria's house is well-run while Anna and Stefan's seems to be unorganized chaos.

 

How would you describe Anna and Stefan's family life, as opposed to Anna's household without Stefan?

With Stefan's return the household seems to be walking on pins and needles and for very good reason. He is an emotional and physical abuser. The family was much better without him. I was hoping his return would be short and sweet. He is not my favrite character.

 

Maria accuses Theo of being dangerously proud-Do you agree, or not?

I agree that Theo is dangerously proud. Keeping that bottle of moonshine could put his family's welfare at risk. His pride says he should be able to do what he wants in his home.

 

I was not happy when Stefan returned and I really have a bad feeling about him. I'm almost afraid to read on through Winter as I have a feeling he will be up to no good at all.

 

 

Beth

http://bookaholicmom.blogspot.com/
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DSaff
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

I thought that too, Cathy. Anna was so disappointed that the wolf/coyote didn't seem to know who she was. She didn't like the growl she heard or the fear/danger she felt. I think that is the only reason she was willing to take the chance on Stefan's temper. Once she asked hime to go and the beating began however, I think she really saw her opportunity to die. :smileysad:


CathyB wrote:

JoyZ wrote:

A few people commented that they were disappointed that Anna took Stefan back, but did she?  I think he pushed his way back into their lives and I felt she finally had some backbone when she told him to leave.  Of course, she might have asked him to leave because she knew he would beat her again and she hoped he would kill her or at least the baby. 

 


I thought she originally asked him to leave because of the coyotes - she felt his presence was undoing all of her work to get close to them. Once she asked him to leave, I believe that she had the thought that he would now do what she couldn't and kill either her or the child - reason she kept 'pushing' him.


 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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libralady
Posts: 159
Registered: ‎09-23-2008

Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

Teodor took the money to town in the middle of a snow storm.  Maria was very angry with him.  She warned him that he could lose his way in storm.  "He could have waited until next week to pay.  He could have waited until the next spring...They could have used that money this year."  Maria ends up praying for his safe return.  She stays on her knees until she hears him laughing and throwing snowballs with the children.  Yet another example of his dangerous pride!
DSaff wrote:

I have just re-read pgs. 197 - 200, and it does look like Teodore took the money to town. I guess I thought Anna had hidden it in the tin when it was mentioned on pg. 198. Thanks for mentioning it, Cathy!  :smileyhappy:


CathyB wrote:

I thought the $10.00 display was a gesture and that Teo took the money back and brought it to the land office the next day - I don't have my book with me so, I may just be having false memories.

 


DSaff wrote:

Anna knows that if Stefan has money he will go to town and drink it away. She would once again be alone. I think her lie is just a way to hang on to him.


lmpmn wrote:

Can someone help me with this question?

 

Teodor went over to Anna's to give her the $10.00, right?  Stefan went outside so they could speak privately, and Ivan and Lesya witnessed what happened.  Later, Anna told Stefan that Teodor gave the money directly to the land office.  I'm assuming she lied to him and hid the money, but I don't remember anything mentioned again about what happened to the money for sure.  What do you all think?  Did Anna squirrel it away somewhere or did she tell the truth about Teodor giving it to the land office?


 

 


 


 

 


 

"Sow today what you want to reap tomorrow"
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Fozzie
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

[ Edited ]

How do you feel about Shandi's descriptions of animals? Are other people picking up on any animal symbolism in Shandi's writing?

 

I have noticed animal parallelism. Leysa is like her chick --- both have a deformed foot. Anna wants to interact with a coyote, which is dangerous, like Stefan is dangerous and unpredictable.

 

And did you notice the tiny coyote on the book cover?

 

I did! After I noticed the house and family.

Message Edited by Fozzie on 08-12-2009 04:07 PM
Laura

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no4daughter
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

[ Edited ]

Stewies_Mom wrote:

Can you describe the Autumn season in this rural Canadian climate? I imagine what I, in the west, think of as severe winter.  And that is only the Fall for these people.  I can't imagine having snow in October.

 

 

 

 


I got a kick out of your reply.  I live in northwestern WI and remember bringing my kids trick or treating in our neighborhood on Halloween in 1991.  We suddenly got a HUGE blizzard and almost were unable to walk the few blocks home.  I think we got three feet of snow before it was all over.  I am pretty sure I have seen snow here in every month but August.  My furnace was on last week even I think.

Message Edited by no4daughter on 08-12-2009 04:27 PM
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Shapatm
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

Can you describe the Autumn season in this rural Canadian climate?

 

It's cold and not like the falls I'm used to.  It starts snowing in the middle of October.  Autumn in these families world is a time for is a time for preparations before the cruel coldness of Winter really get here.  Autumn seems like the quiet before the storm.

 

Theo and Maria's family are determined to survive.  In what ways do you see this in each of the characters?

 

Everyone is Theo and Maria's family sacrifice what they want to make sure everyone has what they need to survive.  Maria is always watching how much everyone, including Anna and Stefan's family, is eating and calculating how much they will need to make it through the winter.  She tries to make meals that are filling but use as little of her precious stores of food as possible to keep something on the table until they can somehow buy more.  She patches and re-patches the clothes and passes down out grown clothes to the younger children so they only have to buy new when the old things are absolutely worn out.  Myron sets snares to catch rabbits and small game to help supplement the family meals - so they don't' always need to buy as much meat. The girls try and help their mother as much as possible and are picking up on her economical ways. Ivan is so happy with the beauty of nature and the simple things that having money means less to him that his lucky rock or a picture of a leaf.  

 

Now that Stefan has returned, we can see how each of these households operate - Can you compare what it's like to live inside each house?

 

The two household are so very different.  They both eat, sleep, and carry out their daily activities but that's where the similarities end.  Stefan and Anna's house is a house of fear.  Stefan rules like the king of the castle and expects to be treated like a lord even though the family doesn't have the means to live like that.  He's given up on his wife treating him like a king so he expects he daughter to pick up that role and run the household.  Anna is just out of it.  Lesya is trying her best to disappear.  Petro idolizes his father so much that he wants to be a mni-Stefan. It's sick and scary.

 

Maria and Teodor's house is full of love and sacrifice.  They work together to get though things.  Each member pulls their own weight.  The sacrifices they make aren't always voluntary - it does seem like the parents expect things to be a certain way and that's what will happen, no questions.  Even with all the horrible things that have happened so far, they seem like they can make it and keep going for another season.  

 

How would you describe Anna and Stefan's family life, as opposed to Anna's household without Stefan?

 

Anna's household is somewhat calm without Stefan there.  The children aren't afraid of screwing up and making their father mad.  Lesya is more outgoing and interacts more with Maria and her girls.  She's happy to help and be seen as more that just a cripple like she his by her mother.  Petro is a typical little boy.  He gets into mischief with Ivan but nothing super serious and he isn't mean.  When Stefan comes home he reinforces the idea that Petro should be a strong man who is focused on power, money and what he can get with those two things.  

 

Maria accuses Theo of being dangerously proud - Do you agree, or not?

 

I wholeheartedly agree with Maria - Teodor is so proud.  It's a stiff necked kind of pride that will destroy you.  He refuses to admit to his own son that he is weaker that he was because of his imprisonment.  Reading the scene where he and Myron are planting the wheat is maddening because he refuses to slowly build up his strength - he going full bore and could seriously hurt himself if he pushes too hard.  He pays his sister for the homestead as soon as he has the money even though his family could have used the money because they didn't make as much off the grain as he expected.

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scnole
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall


Claire-Wachtel wrote:

JoyZ wrote: I haven't finished the book yet, trying to stay on schedule, but am anxious to finish to find out what happens with Dania and Petro and if the paper Katya burned is the deedI love suspense.

JoyZ, I think you make several astute points in your post - - and I agree with your comment at the end. One of the things I loved so much when I first read Shandi's manuscript was the suspense. Based on the little clues she has left for the reader, we know something climactic will happen. At the time, I simply had to read onward to find out.

 

Are others enjoying the suspense? Or does it feel like something else to you?

 


 

It feels like suspense to me.   Although I enjoy suspense, I am very worried about what is going to happen next to both familiesI'm not worried about what is going to happen to Stefan - I'm just so involved with these families that I know that he is going to cause "big trouble" for everyone.     I'm staying on schedule - but it is tough.   

 

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scnole
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall


CathyB wrote:

I thought the $10.00 display was a gesture and that Teo took the money back and brought it to the land office the next day - I don't have my book with me so, I may just be having false memories.

 


DSaff wrote:

Anna knows that if Stefan has money he will go to town and drink it away. She would once again be alone. I think her lie is just a way to hang on to him.


lmpmn wrote:

Can someone help me with this question?

 

Teodor went over to Anna's to give her the $10.00, right?  Stefan went outside so they could speak privately, and Ivan and Lesya witnessed what happened.  Later, Anna told Stefan that Teodor gave the money directly to the land office.  I'm assuming she lied to him and hid the money, but I don't remember anything mentioned again about what happened to the money for sure.  What do you all think?  Did Anna squirrel it away somewhere or did she tell the truth about Teodor giving it to the land office?


 

 


 


 

Cathy _ I thought the same thing as you.   Did he really give Anna the money?   Or, did he keep it and take it to the Land Office.   I need to go back and read this section again.
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Wisteria-L
Posts: 45
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

[ Edited ]
I was thinking about the animal symbolism and it struck me that Teodor and Stefan are playing a cat and mouse game. Stefan is trying to get the cheese/grain in this case the land. Teodor, like a cat is trying to protect his grain, his house.  Like a cat he can’t quite decide to kill Stefan, he gets into altercations with him. He forbids his wife and children from playing with him. When the mice get in the grainary, just like Stefan trying to spoil his homestead, his farm, Theodor’s claws come out and he has everything he can do to restrain himself from killing him. He thinks back to when he was in prison and he recalls how easy it would be. The cats are always around Teodor and when he puts the cat in the house to take care of the grain, to protect the grain from the mice he trusts the cat to do his job. He has confidence in the cat as a partner.

Also, In the very beginning of the story, Ivan and Petro have captures mice and offers them to a “motley clan of barn cats” who take off after them, they take bets on which cat will get the mice.  Petro at one point announces he won. Ivan announces he won. This is a game between Stefans son and Teodors son.

Then who should appear but Teodor...”a grizzle of gray whiskers shadow his face. His hair is long and oily. Filth clothes hang off the skeletal frame.  Couldn’t his description be considered “motley” like the barn cats?

The man’s heavy black leather boot crashes into the earth in front of them. (Ivan and Petro), “The boys hear the mouse’s bones crush, see blood trickle out from under a cracked sole.” Page 7.

On page 170 when Teodor visits Anna, he notices the wood hasn’t been split and the cow has not been milked. Various other signs indicate a home in lack of attention.
He sees three cats come from under the house. As he surveys the situation, the cats rub up against his legs. He kicks them aside as he opens the granary door.  He sees mice. The cats spring into action, and Theodor crushes one mouse with one stomp.

This begins the war of the grain. Who owns the grain and who will win the grain. Stefan who did no work for it or Teodor. Will the mouse get the cheese? Or will the cat protect it? Will the temptation be too great for the cat to kill the mouse?

Just a few thoughts....as we talk about the animal symbols. 
Message Edited by Wisteria-L on 08-12-2009 08:03 PM
Wisteria,

"Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds a way into his heart."

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michaelsjlrc
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

Autumn seems very short since the first snow came in mid October. This will make for a long cold winter.

 

Teodor shows his determination by his insistance on doing whatever needs to be done at the very moment it needs to be done - taking the grain to the store even though it is late in the day, going to pay for the land in a snow storm. Maria shows her determination by doing everthing she can to see that her family (and extended family) have what they need to get through the winter, and praying for them when there is nothing else she can do. She is constantly planning ahead about what will be needed and rationing to make sure that it will be there.

 

I think Maria & Teodor's house is strict, but full of love. The kids know that they are loved and while they don't always get what they want, the will be sure to get what they need if it is humanly possible.  Their kids are secure and gaining confidence in what they do because of it.  Stefan and Anna's house is the opposite. The kids never seem to be shown any love, and while they are doing whatever they can to try to get love, the responses from their parents are unpredictable, which makes for very insecure kids. I feel horrible for Anna and Stefan's kids because they are basically having to take care of themselves and their parents, with very little to work with.

 

Anna's house without Stefan has essentially parentless kids, but because Maria and Teodor are looking out for them, the kids are loved and taken care of.  When Stefan returns, he doesn't allow Maria and Teodor in, so the kids are much worse off, they are isolated and abused and forced to do work they aren't ready for. They are also kept home from school, denying them even more opportunity for growth and contact with responsible adults.  Anna by herself is bad, but not too damaging to the kids. Anna and Stefan together is devastating to them.

 

I definitely agree that Teodor is dangerously proud, but I can't blame him.  Life is conspiring to bring him down, and if he doesn't stand up for himself through his pride, then it will  flatten him.  I feel like his pride puts his family at risk, but if he didn't have it, they would be at a greater risk.

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aprilh
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

I was shocked to find out the niche in the wall was for Teodor's alcohol stash.  I actually assumed it was for important documentation (that's were the paper that shows Anna signed the land over to Teodor should be) or anything else the family thought of as valuable. From what we saw up to this point, Teodor didn't strike me as the kind of man who needed alcohol stashed in the house to make himself comfortable. He also didn't strike me as someone who would risk his freedom by hoarding alcohol. I guess there's a lot we don't know about him yet.
Sheltiemama wrote:

I had no idea what the niche in the wall was for when he was building the house. I can't believe he was so determined to have that little jug of alcohol that he carved a space out for it in the house. Though I have to admit that hiding it behind a painting of the Virgin Mary was clever.

 


Zephyr_Marie wrote:

 

 

As for Theo being dangerously proud - I can somewhat agree with Maria on this, but not entirely.  I can understand her irritation with his secret in the wall, though. He already spent time in prison, and he would so easily risk it again? He has a family to care for, and that should be at the forefront of his mind, especially with Stefan's return and his untrustworthiness.


 


 

April
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Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Middle Chapters: Fall


BDonnelly wrote:

I'm having a really hard time with this book.  It seems like it is a train wreck I can see coming and I'm constantly filled with anxiety while reading it.  That being said, I'm also trying to stay open to the experience of reading the book and whatever redeeming end Ms. Mitchell has for us.

 

The two families are polar opposites of struggling families.  Clearly, both families have very difficult, physically and emotionally stressful lives.  Maria's family seems to stick together  while Anna's family does not.  Per haps it is because the parents set the tone for the family and in one they are a couple capable of working together and in the other family, Stephan is cruel and abusive and Anna hates him.  (I can't blame her.)  I do not want to imagine living in that household because I would hate the stress, the waiting for him to be mean and/or physically abusive.  And, I personally would rather die than live with him as a husband.  (Easy for me to say in our creature comfort filled world. Quality of life is a big thing for us today in our easy world.)  I think back then it was an actual choice - stay with a man or die from lack of food, shelter, protection. 

 

I don't agree with Maria saying Theo is dangerously proud but I have not known him for twenty years like she has.  What I have seen shows me that he may be proud but not to a fault so far.  He was willing to take less money for the wheat.  I don't remember when she said that what wasgoing on.


 

ITA with you. I actually saw some hope and goals being met in the Spring/Summer, but now it seems there is no way anything good will ever happen for this family. Stefan is a pig, yet things seem to go his way and even his wife seems to think might makes right and he's all her man again. I don't see Theo as having too much pride, but trying to have just a little and not being allowed even that.
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aprilh
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall


Claire-Wachtel wrote:

JoyZ wrote: I haven't finished the book yet, trying to stay on schedule, but am anxious to finish to find out what happens with Dania and Petro and if the paper Katya burned is the deed.  I love suspense.

JoyZ, I think you make several astute points in your post - - and I agree with your comment at the end. One of the things I loved so much when I first read Shandi's manuscript was the suspense. Based on the little clues she has left for the reader, we know something climactic will happen. At the time, I simply had to read onward to find out.

 

Are others enjoying the suspense? Or does it feel like something else to you?

 


 

I'm loving the suspense! This novel is definitely keeping me on my toes with all its twists and turns! Every time I think I know what's coming, I'm surprised by something completely different. Shandi is a wonderful writer and really knows how to hook  the reader in and keep their attention riveted to every page!
April
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aprilh
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall


Claire-Wachtel wrote:

 

And did you notice the tiny coyote on the book cover?


I carried this book around for an entire week before I even saw the house on the cover. My eye was immediately drawn to the sky with its different shades of blue and I had a hard time focusing on anything else. Even now, when I look at the book I see only the sky and have to tear my eyes away to see the whole cover at once. I didn't see the coyote until this week. I was so excited when I finally found it. What a nice surprise!

April
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lhays
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Re: Middle Chapters: Fall

This book is very stressful to read. I am hoping that sometime in it something good and just will happen. That being said...

 

The Autumn season in this rural Canadian climate is something that I wouldn't want to experience. Snow and and freezing cold. I am afraid of what winter is going to be like

 

Stefan returning is just a horrible thing for both families. He is abusive and untrustworthy. He wants people to look up to him because of how much authority he has with his cruelty. He doesn't care about anyone but himself and I truly hate him while reading about him. I can't believe that Anna took him back and wanted him back. The only thing that made her want to get rid of him is because the coyotes wouldn't come near her because of the stench. Now he is teaching his child how to act just like him and of course Petro thinks that his dad is the coolest and could do no wrong even after watching him beat his mom up. Everyone in this family is afraid that Stefan is going to leave again and they think that would be a bad thing...why? The only one that has some sense is Lesya

 

Anna and the children were doing so much better without Stefan there. She was taking care of herself and starting to enjoy the children again. Now all of that is gone again. She is back to being depressed and not being able to cope with life

 

Is Theo being dangerously proud? Yes. He is doing something that he knows is against the law. He isn't thinking about his family, he is just thinking that he should have the right to do these things. He should think more of his family instead of his pride