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timetravel
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

I think the photograph description is the perfect introduction to the book.  It gives you just enough information to create an interest for what is to come.
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mjc_813
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

The introduction to this book by using the description of the family using the photograph to me was ingenious. It brought me right into the story and I wanted to know more about this family and about what was to come, as sad as it may be.

 

Reading the description of the picture brought back memories of some of the old photographs my grandparents had hanging up in their house of their families.

 

 

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BHall
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Photograph and First Impressions

The opening with the description of the family photograph is the most impressionable I can recall (the second most impressionable being the opening of John Irving's A Widow For One Year).  The scene was so powerful & drew me in so that I lingered on the page & studied it just as I would study a photograph. 

 

 

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kiakar
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

I took the first impressions to heart, couldn't stop at a few pages I was so entranced into the story. I loved the description of the picture and it said to me, this family was hard working, proud and a close knit bunch they were. This family went through alot of hardships but never gave up the fight to win against starvation and to continue to hold on to their faith.
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GrammiT
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions


michaelsjlrc wrote:

rkubie wrote:

How is the description of this 1933 photograph an introduction to this story? What does it tell us about who this family is and what may be going to happen? Do you think the description "gives away" too much, or does it entice you to keep reading?

 

 

As you begin reading, please share your first impressions of this family and their difficult lives. Where have they come from, and how have they made it this far?
 


I had mixed feelings about the photograph introduction. I agree with earlier posts that it does give a taste of what the family is like, and a foreshadowing of what is to come.  I'm not in agreement that it made me want to dive right in and read more.  Knowing that one of them would be dead and 2 people murdered gave me pause - I worried that it would be a character that I liked.  For some reason, I haven't formed any strong feelings toward these characters yet as I'm reading this book, and I'm thinking it may be that I'm not letting myself get emotionally involved because I know some of them are going to die.  I'm reading to the schedule, so I don't know who it is going to be.

 

As for first impressions of the family so far, they all seem a little stereotypical to me - the strong silent type father, the stoic wife, the good boy son trying to live up to his fathers footsteps, the princess daughter and the good girl daughter and the all boy son.  They haven't become unique individuals for me yet.  I don't envy them the tough path that they've had, and it doesn't sound like it is going to get any easier for them.


I had mixed feelings also as I read the photograph introduction.  I actually found it slighlty depressing to know ahead of time that characters I may become attached to will die.  I am a little behind on the schedule, so I have not really formed an opinion on the families thus far. Time (and reading) will tell....

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Wisteria-L
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

Shandi, I thought using the photograph was a perfect introduction to the story. Not only that, it captivated my interest immediately. I shared sections of your intro on my blog, and comments were also full of intrigue.

 

The photograph reminded me of my family black and white photographs that I occasionally sift through from the early 20th century. Fortunately, someone had the foresight to label the participants on most of the photos. I have been happy to acquaint myself with my family through visual documentation. 

 

 

Most compelling is the foreshadowing you use in the reflection after yu describe the photo.

It is this clever writing that sucked me into the story....happily. I was not disappointed.

 

I have read the entire book and posted a review already on my blog. However, after reading the summary about the photograph I began reading the book immediately. I wonder why you didn't include a copy of the photograph and used text only? Was it for aninimity and mystery...to allow the reader to form their own opinion? 

 

Wisteria

Wisteria,

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

The Shadow of the Wind,
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
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Fozzie
Posts: 2,404
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Photograph and First Impressions

The simple language and incomplete sentences gives the impression of a simple life, but I think the simple language serves as a contrast to what I expect will be a complex story.

 

The first 22 pages of the book were filled with such tragedy I felt I could scarcely take anymore.  Then, the mood and tone of the story changed and I felt that not only could I go on with the story, but that the characters could go on with their lives.

 

I find myself wondering how the prologue fits in exactly.  I don't think it gives away too much.  If anything, the description on the back cover of the book gives away too much, so I only skimmed it.  I like to get as full of an effect from the story when I read it as possible, so I like to know very little about the plot.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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dclement04
Posts: 99
Registered: ‎09-30-2008

Re: Photograph and First Impressions

Sunltcloud, I did the same exact thing that you did because when I first started reading this book I was a little confused as to who belonged to who...so I made a list of characters as well and then things finally came together. So now I keep that listing inside the book in case new people come along.

 

I agree with your list and dates and ages I think it is brillant and quite correct... 

 

For me when I read the first page describing the picture and future events...I was immediately hooked! This book so far has been fabulous and I love how Shandi writes their story. I was saddened though to know that someone would die because as I read I started to fall for each character and realized that they all make the story. So I am anxious to read on and see what happens.

 

I admire the hard work that Teodor has put into making the farm once again live and how the family has started to slowly gain back their strength and is now able to be filled with the food they pick from their garden. I have enjoyed reading the first 2 parts of this book so far and will know it will keep getting better!

 

Thanks! :smileyhappy: 


Sunltcloud wrote:

 

It took me a while to get the dates straight between the description of the 1933 photograph and "Spring 1938." Not until I had made a list of characters and had reread a couple of paragraphs did I understand the connection.

If there is anybody else as dense as I am, here is what I came up with.

 

Teodor - father

Maria - mother

Dania - oldest daughter

Myron, second oldest child, oldest son

Sofia - not yet 5 when they leave Ukraine. In 1938 she is almost 11 years old.

Katya - 5 months old when they leave Ukraine. In 1938 she is 6 years old.

Ivan, conceived in Canada, 5 years old in 1938.

 

Anna - Teodor's sister

Stefan - Anna's husband

Lesya- their daughter. She is 10 in 1938

Petro - born when Lesya was 3. That makes him 7 in 1938.

 

The 1933 Alberta photograph: Man, woman, 5 children. (Eldest boy, three girls, baby.)

 

Now to page 15.

"That was at their old home. Their first home in Canada. It's where they built their house, broke the land. Where Ivan was conveived on a still, warm April night....... that was the last place her family had called home.

 

 If Ivan is 5 years old in the spring of 1938 that made him the baby sitting on the  woman's lap in the winter of 1933. The boy at the far end is Myron, the three girls are Dania, Sofia, and Katya. By the end of 1936 the farm is foreclosed. One of the people in the photograph will die in 1938 (during the year we are reading about) and the two that will be murdered must be in the extended family (Anna, Stefan, Lesya, Petro), since they are not in the picture.

 

The back of the book says that there will be "violence and tragedy" I am glad I figured out the connection. I don't think the introduction gives away too much, but I had to work a bit on my understanding of the sequence of events.

 

On page 76, on the day of their escape from the village, Maria's mother gives her the jeweled crucifix. In the same paragraph "Maria traded the crucifix for the wagonload of grain that the police had confiscated."

We are transported from the Ukraine to Canada in this sentence; I guess I overlooked that the first time I read it. Maria now takes the children on a fifty-mile trek north to Anna's house. Teodor is in jail. The farm is gone, the house is gone. Maria saves the grain. And it will be two years before Teodor comes home.

 

Even though people tended to look stiff and official in the portraits of those days (because they had to stand still for so long) the photograph is their symbol of "togetherness." The fact that they smiled after the shutter had clicked shut is proof of this. And so begins the long road ahead.......... 

 

 

 

 

 

rkubie wrote:

How is the description of this 1933 photograph an introduction to this story? What does it tell us about who this family is and what may be going to happen? Do you think the description "gives away" too much, or does it entice you to keep reading?

 

 

As you begin reading, please share your first impressions of this family and their difficult lives. Where have they come from, and how have they made it this far?
 


 

Message Edited by Sunltcloud on 08-03-2009 08:11 PM

 

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TriciaLynn77
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

I think the photograph gives a great first impression about how the book is going to be. I don't think it gives too much away, I think it is just the right about of information to get you reading into the book.
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fwa
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

As I read the description of the photo and began reading throught the first chapter of the book, I immediately had a picture in my head as to how i expected the family to look and how their expressions might read.  As I read the book I kept these images in my head and felt that I was better able to understand the family, their existence and struggles throughout my reading.
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bookworm_gp
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

I thought the introduction was perfect. It introduced the characters, revealing just enough to whet my appetite for more. Such a clever way to begin!
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ponie
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

The photograph was/is definitely enticing; hard not to read ahead of the schedule.  While I'm reading tho I'm asking "will it be him who dies?" "will she be murdered?" "how?" "who is the murderer?" "when will it happen?" "where will it happen?" ....

Here is a family (actually 2 families), starting out in a desolate, bleak, harsh land, with incredible determination to survive; to live free overcoming astounding odds.  Amazing!

ponie
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Rachel-K
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions


Zeal wrote:

Wow!  Very strongly stated!  Thank you for this! 

 

KathyS wrote:


As I looked at this family photo, and read the words by this author, I felt a forboding, not just from what was said [about the loss of three people] in the first 30 pages, but from how these words were formed.  The short, almost staccato sentence structure gave me a feeling of the harsh reality of what this family was going to have to witness in their lives.  It was as if this author wanted to punch me in the stomach, to make me feel what this family was going to have to endure.  I honestly felt a deep connection to these solemn faces, the clothes they wore, the atmosphere of nature which surrounded them, the harshness of it all.  Each of these people were one, together, but separate.

 

Kathy S.


 


 

I agree! Nicely stated, Kathy.

 

The writing style fits these hardscrabble families and this harsh landscape perfectly, doesn't it?

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Wisteria-L
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎07-06-2009

Re: Photograph and First Impressions

The third sentence of the first paragraph of this first page about the photograph really says so much.

 

"This will be their only photograph together."

 

Did anyone stop after reading the first three sentences and begin to imagine why?  Then I thought, is someone looking at the photograph? What was the occasion? 

 

I love how Shandi opens with three sentences that says so much before she even begins the story. Who is in the picture, when and where it takes place and, most especially, it is the last time the family will be together in a photo. How strange.

 

The photograph is the setting, but also a moment in time before things change.

 

"But this day, in the moment right after the shutter clicks shut, this family takes a deep breath and smiles."

 

When she  says "the shutter clicks shut" it reminds me of a door closing and that the fate of the family is sealed. The reader is pulled into that moment in time before the door is finally closed. 

 

I think the author spent a lot of time choosing just the exact words. I keep reading th passage over, even though I have read through the book, and I see more in it every time.

Wisteria,

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

The Shadow of the Wind,
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
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Coral50
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

Hi Sapphickris

I am so glad you said you forgot about the photo at the beginning as you began to read.

I also didn't think of it again until this subject came up. I do like the idea of the photo; it did give a real historical perspective of when this story took place but that was all for me.

I just dug into the meat of the story and left the photo behind.

Cora

 


SapphicKris wrote:
I liked the description of the photograph at the beginning of the book, but didn't let it influence my opinion of the story to come at all. In fact, once I started reading the story and getting connected to the characters I forgot about the photograph description. The storytelling is so good, I find myself immersed in the characters as they are in the moment. I do find myself constantly wanting to read just one more section to see what happens to these folks I have come to know.

 

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Coral50
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

>I was intrigued from the start as the photo description left me with questions:

  • why were they in their summer clothes in winter?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Hi CathyB

I can tell you when I first read "they all wear summer clothes, they are standing in four inches of snow." My first and lasting inpression was of a poor, proud family; and I immediately looked forward to reading their story.

Cora 

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Coral50
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

 Hi SunItcloud

Dense, no, I have found it necessary many times to make lists, when there are many characters; it distracts from the story until I get everyone straight.

I am happy to share this trait. 'smile'

Cora

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

If there is anybody else as dense as I am, here is what I came up with.

 

Teodor - father

Maria - mother

Dania - oldest daughter

Myron, second oldest child, oldest son

Sofia - not yet 5 when they leave Ukraine. In 1938 she is almost 11 years old.

Katya - 5 months old when they leave Ukraine. In 1938 she is 6 years old.

Ivan, conceived in Canada, 5 years old in 1938.

 

Anna - Teodor's sister

Stefan - Anna's husband

Lesya- their daughter. She is 10 in 1938

Petro - born when Lesya was 3. That makes him 7 in 1938.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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bookloverjb85
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Registered: ‎10-12-2007
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

Has anyone thought of the fact that Maria's baby could be one of the one's murdered?  It would be heart wrenching and a tragedy that I couldn't not bare to witness, but the baby is not in the picture...Just a passing thought I had earlier.  I hope it's not true though!
--Jen--

"A house without books is like a room without windows."--Horace Mann
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Fozzie
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

I also thought it could reference the harsh climate in which they lived --- winter weather can rear it's head unexpectedly in late pring and early fall.

 


Coral50 wrote:

>I was intrigued from the start as the photo description left me with questions:

  • why were they in their summer clothes in winter?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Hi CathyB

I can tell you when I first read "they all wear summer clothes, they are standing in four inches of snow." My first and lasting inpression was of a poor, proud family; and I immediately looked forward to reading their story.

Cora 


 

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Zeal
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Registered: ‎03-18-2009
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Re: Photograph and First Impressions

Wisteria,

 

Well stated thoughts...I agree completely!  Thank you for this post.

 

Aimee

 


Wisteria-L wrote:

The third sentence of the first paragraph of this first page about the photograph really says so much.

 

"This will be their only photograph together."

 

Did anyone stop after reading the first three sentences and begin to imagine why?  Then I thought, is someone looking at the photograph? What was the occasion? 

 

I love how Shandi opens with three sentences that says so much before she even begins the story. Who is in the picture, when and where it takes place and, most especially, it is the last time the family will be together in a photo. How strange.

 

The photograph is the setting, but also a moment in time before things change.

 

"But this day, in the moment right after the shutter clicks shut, this family takes a deep breath and smiles."

 

When she  says "the shutter clicks shut" it reminds me of a door closing and that the fate of the family is sealed. The reader is pulled into that moment in time before the door is finally closed. 

 

I think the author spent a lot of time choosing just the exact words. I keep reading th passage over, even though I have read through the book, and I see more in it every time.


 

"I learned to dream through reading, learned to create dreams through writing, and learned to develop dreamers through teaching. I shall always be a dreamer."
Sharon Draper