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Stephanie
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Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy

On the first page of The Rest of Her Life, Leigh learns that her teenage daughter has accidentally run over and killed a pedestrian. Leigh’s entire family is stunned, unsure of how to act or what to say, though Leigh seems a little less sure than her husband.

It is hard to predict how different people will react to a similar crisis – after an accident like this, responses from drivers and the victims of families are incredibly varied. Do you know anyone who has been affected by this kind of accident? How did he or she respond? Did this response make sense to you?

This section is appropriate for discussion through Chapter 4. Please be mindful of spoilers regarding material in later chapters.
Stephanie
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kiakar
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy



Stephanie wrote:
On the first page of The Rest of Her Life, Leigh learns that her teenage daughter has accidentally run over and killed a pedestrian. Leigh’s entire family is stunned, unsure of how to act or what to say, though Leigh seems a little less sure than her husband.

It is hard to predict how different people will react to a similar crisis – after an accident like this, responses from drivers and the victims of families are incredibly varied. Do you know anyone who has been affected by this kind of accident? How did he or she respond? Did this response make sense to you?

This section is appropriate for discussion through Chapter 4. Please be mindful of spoilers regarding material in later chapters.




When Leigh entered the house and found her daughter, her son and husband sitting around hugging, did anyone feel the awkwardness she felt? Her daughter was stunned, in shock, no one knowing what would happen and what Leigh thinks of is the distant that is between her and her daughter at this minute. Isn't the human mind definitely a ccomplicated puzzle. I have to admit I have let this happen to me at pressing times when my concern should have been centered mainly on the victim and then I make myself a victim. Can anyone else relate?
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IBIS
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy

[ Edited ]
I immediately related with Leigh's reaction as the mother. She's the last person to hear what happened. She walks into the livingroom, and sees a complete family tableaux of Gary, Kara and Justin. They look like a complete family. And it didn't include her. She felt left out.

And she wondered why Kara had called Gary, and not her. She must have thought something like: I must be a terrible mother if my only daughter calls her father when she's been in a serious accident. And not me.

And when she asks them for details, she gets the feeling that she's asking stuff that should be obvious. But nothing is obvious to her. She has to ask, and it's like pulling teeth.

(p 5) "What heppened? What happened to the girl?"
He (Gary) closed his eyes briefly. When he opened them, he looked away, as if he had answered her question.
"Gary. What?"

I agree that in situations like this, we're all stunned and don't know what to do. Or what to think. Leigh felt so helpless, so she started thinking that somehow she failed somewhere. As if it might have been her fault.

Message Edited by IBIS on 09-30-2007 03:26 PM
IBIS

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Stephanie
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy

I felt Leigh's awkwardness. I think Laura captured this feeling very well- Gary did answer her with his averted eyes, and I don't know why she pressed the issue there, but I like what Linda said- Leigh made herself the victim (even if only in her own mind) in that situation. Why do you suppose she did that?
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vivico1
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy


Stephanie wrote:
On the first page of The Rest of Her Life, Leigh learns that her teenage daughter has accidentally run over and killed a pedestrian. Leigh’s entire family is stunned, unsure of how to act or what to say, though Leigh seems a little less sure than her husband.

It is hard to predict how different people will react to a similar crisis – after an accident like this, responses from drivers and the victims of families are incredibly varied. Do you know anyone who has been affected by this kind of accident? How did he or she respond? Did this response make sense to you?

This section is appropriate for discussion through Chapter 4. Please be mindful of spoilers regarding material in later chapters.


I may have mentioned this in a club some time ago, but the granddaughter of a couple in our church and her hubby and little three year old were moving into a new home, had lots of family members around helping,including the grandparents but still, the three year old got out the open front door, seeing some other little kids across the street and wanted to go over there. she went around the back of a pickup that was parked in the neighbors yard, the driver didnt see her and back right over her and killed her. The news men were on the scene right after the baby had been taken and trying to get to the family to talk to them, you could see them all huddled in the yard crying (except the parents, a young couple). It seemed such an intrusion on them by the news so soon.

Anyway, as it turns out, the guy in the pickup was an illegal alien visiting family here and working off and on where he could get work. He was scared and devastated, a fairly young man himself from Mexico. Although the family was (and still is to some extent) having a tremendously hard time dealing with the death of their baby girl,the week after the accident, they went over to the neighbors to check on the man who hit her. He wasnt charged with anything, it really was an accident but he was going to be sent back to Mexico as soon as everything about it was wrapped up here for sure. He was frightened when the father and grandfather showed up at their door, but this whole family was amazing. The grandfather works with some division of naturalization and immigration and both men wanted to know if this young man was alright and told him they knew it was an accident and that he must be hurting too. I am told the man broke down crying at their compassion. The grandfather told him, he would help him fill out all the papers to get him a legal work visa so he could stay here with HIS family and he did. This was a while back and I am told that a year later, though they are not best of friends and there are some language barriers, that every member of both families say hi to each other out in their yards now and help each other out with just little things around their houses that they need or want to do. They have become neighors in that true sense and the man is getting on his feet and the family of course still grieves but they have faith in family ties being forever. Their faith made a big difference for them I think. I would like to think I could be that way too, I don't know that I would be tho, who does until something like that happens to you.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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vivico1
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy


Stephanie wrote:
I felt Leigh's awkwardness. I think Laura captured this feeling very well- Gary did answer her with his averted eyes, and I don't know why she pressed the issue there, but I like what Linda said- Leigh made herself the victim (even if only in her own mind) in that situation. Why do you suppose she did that?


I think this part of the story is setting us up to find out Leigh may have trouble relating to others in some ways anyway, even before this, by the way she is reacting but also by the way Kara is reacting (or not reacting) to her.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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Wrighty
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy


vivico1 wrote:
They have become neighors in that true sense and the man is getting on his feet and the family of course still grieves but they have faith in family ties being forever. Their faith made a big difference for them I think. I would like to think I could be that way too, I don't know that I would be tho, who does until something like that happens to you.



I do remember you telling the story Viv and it's amazing that those people could reach out to the other man when they are suffering so much. At least they are trying to pick up the pieces of a tragic situation. There was a terrible accident last week in a town near us. A two year old boy was outside with his father and brother and he got away from them for just a moment and wandered into the road. He was hit and killed by a car that couldn't stop in time. It was such a horrible accident that affects so many lives. How do you recover from that? The driver and this family will forever be connected because od one moment in time. I can't imagine the "what ifs" that must be going through their minds. I hope they will be able to find peace.
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy


Wrighty wrote:

vivico1 wrote:
They have become neighors in that true sense and the man is getting on his feet and the family of course still grieves but they have faith in family ties being forever. Their faith made a big difference for them I think. I would like to think I could be that way too, I don't know that I would be tho, who does until something like that happens to you.



I do remember you telling the story Viv and it's amazing that those people could reach out to the other man when they are suffering so much. At least they are trying to pick up the pieces of a tragic situation. There was a terrible accident last week in a town near us. A two year old boy was outside with his father and brother and he got away from them for just a moment and wandered into the road. He was hit and killed by a car that couldn't stop in time. It was such a horrible accident that affects so many lives. How do you recover from that? The driver and this family will forever be connected because od one moment in time. I can't imagine the "what ifs" that must be going through their minds. I hope they will be able to find peace.


I remember back in high school,eons ago lol, we saw a man who had been hit by a car and killed. The cops hadnt even gotten there yet. I wont describe what we saw but we talked about it then, how would we feel if we hit someone. I have wondered since that day if I could ever drive again, if i ever hit and killed someone. I pray God I never have to find out!

I was rear ended at a stoplight by a guy doing 50 mph and I remember that for at least a full year after that, it was almost impossible for me to look in the rear view mirror while stopped. I could to change lanes but I just couldnt when I was stopped. I have heard since then that this is a very common response. But if that affected me that much, how could I drive anywhere there might be pedestrians, if I had hit and killed someone. K, dont want to even think about that lol.
Vivian
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kiakar
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy

I do not know how I would respond either if I ever hit and especially killed someone especially if it was clearly my fault. I hit a dog once going over a narrow bridge and no way could I stop for the dog because a large truck was ramming my back end and I still felt terrible for days and days. I couldn't find out who the dog belonged to and my boyfriend at the time buried it for me. Does anybody else have this problem at pedastrian walks? If I am ina strange place, sometime I will go up on one without thinking or stopping? And when I do think about it, I slam on breaks. It is so much to think of out there when you are driving, you need all your smarts in one place. And I probably could use some extra!
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twinkbb42
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy

When I read the editor's description of this book, in part it said,".....why Would Kara call her father and not also call her mother". That is very telling. It set me up to believe that there was more going on with Kara in regards to her mother than Leigh ever knew or Leigh didn't want to own up that she and Kara were not as close as Leigh wanted them to be.

While reading the scene that Leigh walked in on at home I felt like Leigh was having an out-of-body experience, surreal. I could feel her saying, "I'm an outsider within my own family". It must have really cut her to the quick that she wasn't called and had to walk in and find out this way.

Who's to say if the way people react after a tragedy like this is normal or not-depending on what your definition of "normal" is. How a person is brought up has something to do with how they react to situations in their lives.

I understood how Kara felt when she said she didn't care if she went to jail or not. She feels that she needs to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Kara is trying to take responsibility for her actions. She knows for every decision there is a consequence.
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LauraMoriarty
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy

Hi Vivian,
That story is really something. I'm so moved by the way the family reacted - helping the man from Mexico instead of trying to hurt him. As a writer, I always try not to listen when someone says, 'a person would never react like that,' or 'that just seems too saintly,' or 'a mother would never . . .' People vary. Reading reminds me that other people think and feel differently than I do. And you never know how someone will react to tragedy. When I was researching this book, I was struck by the vast range of responses from the victims' families. There was unrelenting rage, and there was the kind of compassion that your story illustrates, and everything in between.


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IBIS
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy

[ Edited ]


vivico wrote:
I think this part of the story is setting us up to find out Leigh may have trouble relating to others in some ways anyway, even before this, by the way she is reacting but also by the way Kara is reacting (or not reacting) to her.



Vivico, I agree totally with your comment about the writer setting the stage.

In the very first scene, Laura Moriarty let's us experience Leigh's awkwardness; it's very revealing that Leigh has trouble relating to her daughter; her own self-perception is out of synch in relation to her daughter's.

And vice versa, her daughter non-reaction to Leigh, is very telling as well.

There's a great quote from Flannery O'Connor: "...the extreme situation that reveals who we are esssentially."

It's in this extreme situation that we get to witness who Leigh, and everyone else in this town, is essentially.

Message edited by admin for formatting only.

Message Edited by Kevin on 10-02-2007 09:13 AM
IBIS

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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy



twinkbb42 wrote:
When I read the editor's description of this book, in part it said,".....why Would Kara call her father and not also call her mother". That is very telling. It set me up to believe that there was more going on with Kara in regards to her mother than Leigh ever knew or Leigh didn't want to own up that she and Kara were not as close as Leigh wanted them to be.

While reading the scene that Leigh walked in on at home I felt like Leigh was having an out-of-body experience, surreal. I could feel her saying, "I'm an outsider within my own family". It must have really cut her to the quick that she wasn't called and had to walk in and find out this way.

Who's to say if the way people react after a tragedy like this is normal or not-depending on what your definition of "normal" is. How a person is brought up has something to do with how they react to situations in their lives.

I understood how Kara felt when she said she didn't care if she went to jail or not. She feels that she needs to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Kara is trying to take responsibility for her actions. She knows for every decision there is a consequence.




This is all so true, Twink, I like what you said about Leigh having a out of body experience and that describes it well. This had to be strange for her to come home to.
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Stephanie
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy



twinkbb42 wrote:

I understood how Kara felt when she said she didn't care if she went to jail or not. She feels that she needs to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Kara is trying to take responsibility for her actions. She knows for every decision there is a consequence.


Twink,

I also understood Kara's feelings- she was impressive in her maturity - she made me proud for Leigh, because you're so right when you say you can tell how a person is raised by their reactions to such situations. I know this subject will come up again in later chapters discussion areas.
Stephanie
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Wrighty
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy

[ Edited ]

IBIS wrote:


vivico wrote:
I think this part of the story is setting us up to find out Leigh may have trouble relating to others in some ways anyway, even before this, by the way she is reacting but also by the way Kara is reacting (or not reacting) to her.


Vivico, I agree totally with your comment about the writer setting the stage.

In the very first scene, Laura Moriarty let's us experience Leigh's awkwardness; it's very revealing that Leigh has trouble relating to her daughter; her own self-perception is out of synch in relation to her daughter's.

And vice versa, her daughter non-reaction to Leigh, is very telling as well.

There's a great quote from Flannery O'Connor: "...the extreme situation that reveals who we are esssentially."

It's in this extreme situation that we get to witness who Leigh, and everyone else in this town, is essentially.



You're right, you can feel the awkwardness from the beginning. Leigh doesn't relate well to Kara already and Kara has used it to her advantage. When the accident happens Leigh has no idea what to do or how to help. Kara instinctively turns to her father for help. A tragedy can bring you together or pull you apart. Leigh knows already that Kara isn't looking for her comfort. In fact, her family seems to be circling the wagons to protect themselves but they've left her out. She seems desperate to help, as she demonstrates in her attempt at a condolescence note to the victim's mother, but even that doesn't go well. She doesn't know what to do or how to help.
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Message Edited by Kevin on 10-02-2007 09:13 AM
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Wrighty
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy


kiakar wrote:


twinkbb42 wrote:
When I read the editor's description of this book, in part it said,".....why Would Kara call her father and not also call her mother". That is very telling. It set me up to believe that there was more going on with Kara in regards to her mother than Leigh ever knew or Leigh didn't want to own up that she and Kara were not as close as Leigh wanted them to be.

While reading the scene that Leigh walked in on at home I felt like Leigh was having an out-of-body experience, surreal. I could feel her saying, "I'm an outsider within my own family". It must have really cut her to the quick that she wasn't called and had to walk in and find out this way.

Who's to say if the way people react after a tragedy like this is normal or not-depending on what your definition of "normal" is. How a person is brought up has something to do with how they react to situations in their lives.

I understood how Kara felt when she said she didn't care if she went to jail or not. She feels that she needs to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Kara is trying to take responsibility for her actions. She knows for every decision there is a consequence.




This is all so true, Twink, I like what you said about Leigh having a out of body experience and that describes it well. This had to be strange for her to come home to.



There are different stages in a child's life when they are closer to one person than others. When my kids were little they clung to me like monkeys and almost all of the time I loved it. We shared a special bond. Now that they are teenagers we still have a special bond but it has changed. They are more independent now and often I feel that my role to them is servant. Since all of them are boys, they have a close connection with their father at this age. They have more in common now and much more to talk about. There have been times where I have felt a little bit left out. My oldest son is a freshman in college and came home last weekend for the first time since school started. What a difference a month makes away from home! He didn't expect me to do his laundry or anything (I did it anyway) and he had matured so much already. He's had a taste of living on his own and I think he may actually be appreciating his parents now. He let me hug and kiss him hello and goodbye and said he didn't need any money! He even shops at the Dollar Store to save. My friends have told me that teenage boys always come back to their moms and I've been hopeful but haven't expected much yet. I've been pleasantly surprised.

Kara and Leigh don't seem to have that kind of relationship. They don't seem to have the ups and downs, just the downs. They've been drifting further apart and Kara doesn't seem to care. Justin senses problems and is sensitive enough to try to make his mom feel better. Leigh is trying but she didn't have very good role models to learn from. She has no idea how to fix it.
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kiakar
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy

[ Edited ]

Wrighty wrote:

IBIS wrote:


vivico wrote:
I think this part of the story is setting us up to find out Leigh may have trouble relating to others in some ways anyway, even before this, by the way she is reacting but also by the way Kara is reacting (or not reacting) to her.


Vivico, I agree totally with your comment about the writer setting the stage.

In the very first scene, Laura Moriarty let's us experience Leigh's awkwardness; it's very revealing that Leigh has trouble relating to her daughter; her own self-perception is out of synch in relation to her daughter's.

And vice versa, her daughter non-reaction to Leigh, is very telling as well.

There's a great quote from Flannery O'Connor: "...the extreme situation that reveals who we are esssentially."

It's in this extreme situation that we get to witness who Leigh, and everyone else in this town, is essentially.



You're right, you can feel the awkwardness from the beginning. Leigh doesn't relate well to Kara already and Kara has used it to her advantage. When the accident happens Leigh has no idea what to do or how to help. Kara instinctively turns to her father for help. A tragedy can bring you together or pull you apart. Leigh knows already that Kara isn't looking for her comfort. In fact, her family seems to be circling the wagons to protect themselves but they've left her out. She seems desperate to help, as she demonstrates in her attempt at a condolescence note to the victim's mother, but even that

doesn't go well. She doesn't know what to do or how to help.





Yes, Wrighty, I guess Leigh needed to do something, but didn't know what. She knew the girl that was killed and felt somewhat sad and also she wanted so desparately to feel she was doing something. She couldn't comfort her daughter, because Kara didn't want that. She just needed to do something positive.

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Message Edited by Kevin on 10-02-2007 09:14 AM
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vivico1
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy


kiakar wrote:

Wrighty wrote:


You're right, you can feel the awkwardness from the beginning. Leigh doesn't relate well to Kara already and Kara has used it to her advantage. When the accident happens Leigh has no idea what to do or how to help. Kara instinctively turns to her father for help. A tragedy can bring you together or pull you apart. Leigh knows already that Kara isn't looking for her comfort. In fact, her family seems to be circling the wagons to protect themselves but they've left her out. She seems desperate to help, as she demonstrates in her attempt at a condolescence note to the victim's mother, but even that

doesn't go well. She doesn't know what to do or how to help.





Yes, Wrighty, I guess Leigh needed to do something, but didn't know what. She knew the girl that was killed and felt somewhat sad and also she wanted so desparately to feel she was doing something. She couldn't comfort her daughter, because Kara didn't want that. She just needed to do something positive.

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Message Edited by Kevin on 10-02-2007 09:14 AM


You know tho, and we will see, but I am getting from Leigh, that feeling as she talks about it, how will this affect me, or what will people think or what should we be doing for them that will look right and thats why the letter isnt coming any more than comforting her daughter. I feel that from her because thats my mother, always has been. Comforting or even talking to me about me, not her, wasnt her first priority so when something big happened, I didnt go to her anyway. Or she would look at me dumbfounded. I dont know that this is the case here yet but how she describes everything and seems to be a bit disconnected from everyone and is just now wondering why, makes me feel that way. Should be good to see whats up there. But I suspect its more than just a thing about this part of my life I am a daddy's girl, and this part I go more to mom thing.
Vivian
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kiakar
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy

[ Edited ]

vivico1 wrote:

kiakar wrote:

Wrighty wrote:


You're right, you can feel the awkwardness from the beginning. Leigh doesn't relate well to Kara already and Kara has used it to her advantage. When the accident happens Leigh has no idea what to do or how to help. Kara instinctively turns to her father for help. A tragedy can bring you together or pull you apart. Leigh knows already that Kara isn't looking for her comfort. In fact, her family seems to be circling the wagons to protect themselves but they've left her out. She seems desperate to help, as she demonstrates in her attempt at a condolescence note to the victim's mother, but even that

doesn't go well. She doesn't know what to do or how to help.





Yes, Wrighty, I guess Leigh needed to do something, but didn't know what. She knew the girl that was killed and felt somewhat sad and also she wanted so desparately to feel she was doing something. She couldn't comfort her daughter, because Kara didn't want that. She just needed to do something positive.

Message edited by admin for formatting only.

Message Edited by Kevin on 10-02-2007 09:14 AM


You know tho, and we will see, but I am getting from Leigh, that feeling as she talks about it, how will this affect me, or what will people think or what should we be doing for them that will look right and thats why the letter isnt coming any more than comforting her daughter. I feel that from her because thats my mother, always has been. Comforting or even talking to me
about me, not her, wasnt her first priority so when something big happened, I didnt go to
her anyway. Or she would look at me dumbfounded. I dont know that this is the case here
yet but how she describes everything and seems to be a bit disconnected from everyone and

is just now wondering why, makes me feel that way. Should be good to see whats up there.
But I suspect its more than just a thing about this part of my life I am a daddy's girl,
and this part I go more to mom thing.







It could be alittle of both, Viv. She was trying to be the victom here also, but also, I feel she loved her daughter and wanted to fix things for her. Or she just wanted to feel better and also wanted Kara to feel better. I know when my kids hurt, if their heart is breaking or they have broken a limb, I just want to make the pain go away anyway I can accomplish that.

Message Edited by kiakar on 10-02-2007 11:54 PM
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MissMandy
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Responding to tragedy

I feel alot of times as women, we are looked to as the person that will "fix" things - that will make it better - especially as a mother to her child. I think Leigh desperately wants to "fix" the situation as she felt compelled to do with the young man that she wrote to in jail. I think she is lost because she doesn't know what to do to make the situation right - not just with what Kara has done, but their whole overall relationship as mother/teenage daughter. I found it interesting that I could really relate to how Leigh was feeling, from wanting to be included, to being a little jealous that Kara was turning to her father, to even wondering to herself if she has somehow ruined her relationship with Kara as early as age 7 when she laughed at her in the mirror. I know if I had read this book as a young teenage girl in angst I would have related with Kara - annoyed almost by her mother trying to help, as she was annoyed when her mother tried to talk to her about sex. Now, as a mom, I feel I relate better with Leigh (at this point in the story) and I do seem to see her as a victim too and I find myself worrying about her more than Kara.
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