Reply
Inspired Wordsmith
Stephanie
Posts: 2,613
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Whole Book Discussion: Roles and Relationships

In this novel, we see Leigh in several different kinds of relationships: she's a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a friend. How do all these different roles compete with each other for Leigh's attention/ loyalty? Does she give too much attention to any one role? Not enough to another? In what ways do these different kinds of relationships influence one another?

This thread pertains to the entire novel. Please be aware there will be spoilers in this thread.
Stephanie
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Whole Book Discussion: Roles and Relationships

Leigh does have a skewed self-perception. Her relations suffer because she does not fully engage in some, and overcompensates in others. She has a hard time relating to others because her self-perception is weighted towards the conviction that she isn't as good as everyone else. She has to try harder and work harder. She doesn't feel as "popular, athletically gifted, confident" as her daughter.

One has to wonder from where this sense of insufficiency stems?

Her skewed self-perception extend to what life is like in a small town like Danby. She claims to love living in a small town, yet she doesn't avail herself of its small-town benefits. She teaches at the middle school, but does not socialize with the other mothers. She alienates her only friend, Eva, who is reaching out to her, as a "gossip" and discourages confidences. She anticipates a negative outcry of blame from the townspeople, and, surprisingly, finds that everyone (except the victim's mother) reacts with compassion and sympathy.

And towards the end, when she kindly extends compassion and empathy towards the victim's mother, does Leigh come into her own. As both mother, wife and neighbor.
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Wordsmith
kiakar
Posts: 3,435
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Whole Book Discussion: Roles and Relationships



IBIS wrote:
Leigh does have a skewed self-perception. Her relations suffer because she does not fully engage in some, and overcompensates in others. She has a hard time relating to others because her self-perception is weighted towards the conviction that she isn't as good as everyone else. She has to try harder and work harder. She doesn't feel as "popular, athletically gifted, confident" as her daughter.

One has to wonder from where this sense of insufficiency stems?

Her skewed self-perception extend to what life is like in a small town like Danby. She claims to love living in a small town, yet she doesn't avail herself of its small-town benefits. She teaches at the middle school, but does not socialize with the other mothers. She alienates her only friend, Eva, who is reaching out to her, as a "gossip" and discourages confidences. She anticipates a negative outcry of blame from the townspeople, and, surprisingly, finds that everyone (except the victim's mother) reacts with compassion and sympathy.

And towards the end, when she kindly extends compassion and empathy towards the victim's mother, does Leigh come into her own. As both mother, wife and neighbor.




You know, Ibis, the self worth thing probably comes from the fact Leigh was abused by her mom. Her mom critized both girls and throwing up to them that she had to work hard for them. She didn't have communication with her mother to talk things out, so the bad feelings about her self continued to grow.

You know sometimes we think we know what will make us happy finally. Leigh had been trying all her life to be happy. She tried living in a small town, this that and the other. She thought education would do it and so forth. But she didn't understand it had to come from her. From inside her. She had to come to peace with her childhood and realize her mother had a past also and she really did do the best she could under her circumstances.
Inspired Wordsmith
Stephanie
Posts: 2,613
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Whole Book Discussion: Roles and Relationships

Linda,

Well-put. I think Leigh's mother really did think she was "doing right" by her daughters. Sad to think that when she was a girl, she would have been happy with the life she gave her girls. What was it Leigh said to her? I guess you didn't want very much?
Stephanie
Author
LauraMoriarty
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎09-11-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Whole Book Discussion: Roles and Relationships

That's exactly how I saw it when I wrote it. Both Leigh and her mother work so hard to give their children a better life than they themselves had, and they both end up resenting how much their children have, though they both have too big of a blind spot to see it. Leigh tries to suppress the resentment, because she wants so much to be a good mom, and so much of her identity is wrapped up in seeing herself that way. But Leigh does struggle to see clearly, and I admire her for that. The women of this family seem to get better 'vision' with every generation. Kara, I think, is very perceptive.


Learn more about
The Rest of Her Life
.
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Whole Book Discussion: Roles and Relationships

[ Edited ]
Kara is the most amazingly lucid and clear-sighted teenager in any novel that I've read.
She read her mother very well when she told her that her mother looked at her like she's annoying and stupid.

(p. 241) "'You sure haven't looked at me like that lately, though...You don't seem to be annoyed with me at all these days....I won't say you're glad that this happened, the accident. But I will say you've been a lot nicer to me lately.'

"She smiled, but her eyes were cold. 'You should have told me this was all it would take for you to like me. I would have just killed someone a long time ago."

And Leigh asks her how it feels. Kara answers: "How does it feel to kill someone?...It feels like nothing is ever going to be the same, and it shouldn't be. I'm never going to be the person I was. I'm never, ever going to as happy as I used to be....Because as long as I live, she'll always be dead'

Leigh gives her the best advice that Kara needs from her mother.
She suggests that Kara be constructive in the penance that she pays.

In the end, Kara does her community service, and goes to Mexico to volunteer. Her accountability is an amazingly positive and constructive one.

Message Edited by IBIS on 10-09-2007 10:03 PM
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Author
LauraMoriarty
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎09-11-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Whole Book Discussion: Roles and Relationships

Yes, Kara is pretty discerning. When I came up with the idea for this book - the accident - I wanted the driver to be someone sensitive and thoughtful, and also intelligent. I know that some people don't associate those words with teens (one reviewer even brought up Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton as yardsticks) But when I was teaching freshman English at KU, I met plenty of young women - even still in their teens - who were very much like Kara, full of insight and compassion and integrity. I think young women like that are far more common than the ones we see in the tabloids, but sadly, the latter are the ones who get the most attention. For this book, I knew I didn't want the driver/teen character to be blatantly irresponsible or shallow or self-centered. I wanted it to happen to someone quite the opposite, because I really do think this could happen to almost anyone, and I thought it would be more interesting to see a senstive person wrestle with the consequences.

I also think Leigh is forunate to have such a perceptive daughter. A different daughter might have just given up on her. A less perceptive friend than Eva probably would have given up on her too. Leigh does try, and I like her for that, but she definitely needs understanding people to help her out.


Learn more about
The Rest of Her Life
.
Scribe
vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Whole Book Discussion: Roles and Relationships


LauraMoriarty wrote:
Yes, Kara is pretty discerning. When I came up with the idea for this book - the accident - I wanted the driver to be someone sensitive and thoughtful, and also intelligent. I know that some people don't associate those words with teens (one reviewer even brought up Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton as yardsticks) But when I was teaching freshman English at KU, I met plenty of young women - even still in their teens - who were very much like Kara, full of insight and compassion and integrity. I think young women like that are far more common than the ones we see in the tabloids, but sadly, the latter are the ones who get the most attention. For this book, I knew I didn't want the driver/teen character to be blatantly irresponsible or shallow or self-centered. I wanted it to happen to someone quite the opposite, because I really do think this could happen to almost anyone, and I thought it would be more interesting to see a senstive person wrestle with the consequences.

I also think Leigh is forunate to have such a perceptive daughter. A different daughter might have just given up on her. A less perceptive friend than Eva probably would have given up on her too. Leigh does try, and I like her for that, but she definitely needs understanding people to help her out.


Kara is an extremely perceptive young woman. Eva is also a very perceptive friend. I think their perceptiveness comes from different places tho. Kara's comes more from inside, Eva's seems to come more from observation. Either way, Leigh is lucky to have people around her that love her and perceive what is really inside her that is worth staying for and fighting with or for, to help bring out her true nature. This includes Gary too. Leigh may have been disconnected in many ways from others in her life and in her community, as much as she was disconnected from understanding her own real feelings, but she had something going for her. She had good people around her as she was learning about herself, who wanted to be there for some reason. She just needed to learn how to tap into it too, so she could in turn, give back to others in a more meaningful way that was ultimately more of a fulfilling of who she had really wanted to be herself too. She has learned a lot about herself and about the "real" things in the other people in her life. She has had quite a breakthrough and one that you feel Kara has been watching and waiting for. From hard pasts comes new beginnings, for them all.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Author
LauraMoriarty
Posts: 18
Registered: ‎09-11-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Whole Book Discussion: Roles and Relationships

I love how you put that, Vivian. I do think one positive outcome of a tragedy like the accident is that it can startle and shock people into changing patterns and really thinking about how they affect other people.


Learn more about
The Rest of Her Life
.
Users Online
Currently online: 52 members 325 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: