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This book club provided an opportunity to discuss books with authors from 2009 - 2013. I like to think we were a group of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, well... women finding time to meet while juggling daily life.

I hope you enjoy exploring The Manic Mommies Book Club Archives. We read 46 books over the years, with audio or written author discussions for each book read documented on this blog.

~ with kindness & gratitude, Mari

The Local New - Discussion begins today!


Originally posted in the Big Tent.... view comments for full conversation.

Today we start discussing ‘The Local News’. I encourage everyone to visit the MMBC Blog to read the Q&A with Miriam Gershow. Her answers may spark a discussion topic for you, or maybe another question to ask everyone. This dialog is meant to be a discussion between friends – Let’s keep the discussion casual and hopefully we learning something new about each other along the way.

A few of the questions below were sent to me from other readers, thank you for your questions! Feel free to answer any all of the questions below:

1. What was your overall view of the book? Did you enjoy it?
2. Did you have a favorite character (include why you liked the character)?
3. Did you have a favorite part in the book?
4. What did you think about Lydia and the inspector? Was the inspector letting her ‘tag along’ or did he see value in her involvement.
5. Lydia’s mom… what did you see to be her strengths/weaknesses?
6. Current events – many of us read this book when Sandra was missing and found days later only to learn that someone close to the family killed her. How did this weigh on your mind as you read the book? Were you emotions more ‘present’ with this tragic event in the news as you read the book?

20 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this book. I was drawn in from the first line. It was interesting to see Lydia's conflicting emotions about her brother's disappearance. I would have been interested to see how her life would have changed if Danny was found alive and came back home. Would her "new friends" still rally around her or would Danny and his friends go back to their old mistreatment of her?

    I'm glad that Lydia found someone to love her. I'm rooting for her to love herself enough to let him.

    BJDMOM

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  2. This book pulled me in right off the bat when Gershow talked about the two different kinds of parents of missing children: clingers and drifters. I always assumed that if one of my children went missing, I would cling to the others but I have read books where the parents became drifters (The Deep End of The Ocean) and I couldn't imagine that. I was pulled in to find out how being the child of "drifters" would effect a sibling.

    Lisa

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  3. I enjoyed this book, as others have mentioned it grabbed me from the start and I couldn’t wait to read the ending. I was rooting for Lydia and wanted to hug her throughout the book. I may have read into the story but I felt she was waiting for her parents to look at her and realize she’s grieving too.

    I didn’t have a favorite character like I do in many books. This story was a sad reality and I did feel sorry for Lydia and her family. The ending gave me closure and I felt the characters found some way to lead a peaceful existence.

    I wrestled with the idea of an investigator involving a child. That said, I understand its fiction and it was a fun part in the story. At one point I was waiting for Lydia to solve the case.

    Lydia’s mom was weak for most of the book, as written from a young girl’s perspective. As mentioned before, I kept waiting for the mom to step in and take control (use the nervous, frightened feelings in a different way than she did). As Lisa mentioned above, I wonder how I would react in this situation (what a horrible sentence to write). I was relieved to see the mom find a meaningful way to channel her ‘energy’ and help others. I imagine she is extremely helpful and resourceful to others while finding a way to console her own loss.

    In the news and Sandra… I did read this book the week that Sandra was missing and when they found her. Reading this book at the same time made the story more real and memories of other missing children came to the forefront of my memory.

    Overall I really enjoyed this book and thought it could be a very natural/real experience for a family. There is no ‘right’ way to react to tragedy (and the waiting period). It was important include the last section of the book, this brought closure and you realize that it is possible to life with grief.

    I thank Miriam for letting us read her first novel, providing the book donation and her involvement in the MMBC.

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  4. I also enjoyed this book. I definitely felt bad for Lydia and felt like she was really going through this alone, when her family should have given her more support. I think that's why she became attracted to the detective, I think she was really feeling invisible and needed attention.

    I could totally understand where her mom was coming from, too. I can't imagine something like that happening to my child, and I can imagine the search consuming me. I was glad to see at the end that she was able to make something productive out if it. I was disappointed that their marriage had to end, but I saw it coming. You would have to have a really strong marriage to come through something like that.

    I too felt a sense of closure at the end of the book. It was neat to see Lydia coming back to her reunion. I felt that it was a realistic ending.

    Holly

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  5. I really enjoyed the book. It moved along well and was a realistic story. I liked the characters and was drawn in from the first chapter.

    I liked Lydia. I felt that she was doing the best she could given the circumstances. I wished that her parents had supported her more, but I got the feeling that they didn't understand her.

    I think the PI was taking advantage of Lydia. I think he believed all along that she had something to do with her brother's disappearance and wanted to gain her trust to get a confession.

    I was happy to see that Lydia's mom grew from her experience and used it to help others with the same problem.

    mdpasq

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  6. I'm in the minority here, but I didn't like the book. I put it down several times, and then went back to finish it in spurts. I didn't feel like I knew enough about Lydia's inner thoughts or those of the other characters, just like I was seeing a sliver and I wanted more. I was curious to see how it turned out however, and to me, the last part of the book was the strongest, as I felt it was more contemplative, and I got a better sense of how the disappearance impacted Lydia's psyche and life as an adult.

    Joan

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  7. I did enjoy this book. Lydia was such a smarta** teenager. You could see that Lydia really was suffering and wanted to be noticed by her parents. I am glad the book ended the way it did, although Lydia's future seems so sad. I have no idea what kind of parent I would be if that happened to me.

    Paula

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  8. I very much enjoyed the book. I liked that all of the characters were multi- dimensional. At times I liked each of them and at other times I found them infuriating or pathetic or just plain unlikable.

    Although I saw Lydia's parents through her eyes and therefore found them lacking, I also found myself thinking that I might react just the same as her mom. What a horrifying prospect, that your child could just disappear.

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  9. Reading this book brought back memories of Jacob Wetterling (MN, early 90's). This was a horrible story and in the media for close to a year, Jacob's favotite song was on the radio often.. no one has forgotten Jacob.

    I congratulate the author and making me feel a rush of emotions (albiet sometimes not happy but this isn't a happy story).

    One never knows how they will grieve, I didn't like Lydia's mom much but do understand that somepeople detach.

    Peggy

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  10. I'm totally missing out on the discussion! I couldn't find the book in my library - they do not have it and I wasn't able to purchase it. I will definitely keep it on my list of books to read, though - it sounds really great!

    Jennifer

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  11. I don't have time tonight [sicko kids] to answer the questions but did want to say to Miriam I liked the book. I was not expecting to like this book.

    After the last book, a book about a kidnapping seemed like it was going to be too much of a downer. But I am so glad that Mari picked this book. I really got into the characters and the story.

    Thanks and hopefully tomorrow I'll get a real post on here.

    Sarah

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  12. Well, I have to say I am about in the midpoint in regards to like/dislike for this book. I do agree with what Joan12 stated above. I kept reading because I wanted to see how it al turned out, but I also felt that the latter part of the book was the best. I also lent it to a friend of mine to read and she echoed my thoughts, as well.

    Lola was my favorite character. I really felt that her interactions with Lydia really "made" the book.

    I do think that the author did a really great job with illustrating the inner workings of Lydia. As a teacher for children in this age bracket, I was really struck with how well she captured the self-talk and mindset of Lydia.

    Elizabeth

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  13. I didn't read this with your book club, hoping its ok to contribute.

    I also liked Lola - she was a fun twist to the book and kept me thinkging.

    As others have mentioned, the topic is horrible but important to think about.

    If the author happens to read these comments I would like to know how she came up with the idea for the story. Has this idea been with her for a while (based on news events)? Sometimes I hear an author has had the idea in their head for 10 years!

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  14. I really enjoyed the book. The interactions between the characters, how tragedy brought them together & tore them apart was interesting and tragic at the same time.

    I really liked David - Lydia's friend. I know he had a smaller part in the book but I enjoyed their awkward interactions. They really pushed each other's creativity and it was fun to watch until they drifted apart.

    I don't know that I had a favorite part. I really enjoyed the whole book. The story line and characters developed at a good pace and kept my interest.

    I'm not clear why the PI allowed Lydia to get involved. I can't see that he thought she would actually be helpful. I am leaning more toward him believing she may have had something to do with the disappearance or that she knew more than she was saying.

    I imagine Lydia's mom was an involved mom before the disappearance and then was so distraught that she couldn't deal with day to day life. Her strength was that she was able to eventually pull herself out of the funk and find a deeper purpose for her life.

    I suffered a loss as I was trying to finish the book. I almost didn't finish because it was hard to read about other people's suffering while I was dealing with my loss. I was able to finish and I'm glad I did.

    Kim

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  15. Manic Mommies Book Clubbers -

    Thanks for all of your thoughts and candor about The Local News! It's been fascinating to read the responses, since I'm just starting out on the book group circuit. It's particularly interesting to read people's responses to Lydia's mom and to Denis.

    Part of me wants to jump in and tell you exactly what my intent was behind the actions and motivations of both of those characters. But a larger part of me respects all the various reader interpretations and wants to leave it at that, at least in this forum. If you have a burning question you want to ask about a particular character or part of the book, feel free to email me at miriam (at) miriamgershow.com.

    As for the question of how I came up with the book -- I wasn't inspired by one particular news story. My ideas tend to come in tiny snippets and this time was no exception. I envisioned the scene of Lydia getting into the fight with Kito, the convenience store clerk, about hanging the missing person poster. I also thought of the line, "Going missing was the only interesting thing my brother had ever done." Those two ideas were enough to get me started, and the rest of Lydia's world quickly coalesced from there.

    The only thing I knew at the start of the writing process was the general outcome of Danny's disappearance. Everything else, I discovered along the way.

    Again, thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts here. And special thanks to Mari for all of her behind the scenes work.

    Best,
    Miriam

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  16. (Ear infections, houseguests, and other manic details conspired against me this week--sorry I missed the original post date, here are my quick thoughts!)

    I enjoyed this book. I thought that Lydia's voice was very honest, it was refreshing perspective. I could relate to her bouncing on the edges of different social groups. And simply wanting someone to pay attention to her, something everyone goes through regardless of the tragic events of the story. I think the author really nailed the teenage girl spirit and angst.

    I went back and forth on my opinions about the investigator. Sometimes I thought he was a little creepy, sometimes he seemed to have really compassion for Lydia. And I was pulling for the Mom to get it together. When I hear about kidnappings I can imagine the pain for the parents, but I had never considered how you would have to continue to parent other children while going through that.

    So all in all I liked this book and would look for another title by the author. As a gauge, the book is in my pile to lend to friends, not to sell to the used book store!

    Gretta

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  17. I really enjoyed the book. I thought it was a page turner - I read it faster than anything we've read so far. I thought Lydia's parents being drifters was tragic. I have no idea how I would react if I lost a child, but Lydia painted a picture that she was almost the 'missing child' before her brother actually disappeared. I think it's sad her parents didn't pay much attention to her, didn't understand her because she was smart and into books vs. boys.

    All of the characters in the book were interesting - her parents, Lola, Denis, Melissa Anne, Bayard, David Nelson. I liked the play between Lydia and Denis best, he was described so perfectly - cocoa skin, pockmarks, spotty mustache, yellow fingernails - he echoed slimy detective. I think Lydia gravitated towards Denis because from the first meeting he showed an interest/appreciation in her honesty when her parents were bumbling. She took charge, someone needed too in order to be helpful to Denis, and he gave her a different kind of "attention" when Lydia had been getting no attention from anyone she really cared for. He had read enough books to have something to reach Lydia with and brought her along maybe because he saw her need to play a role in the investigation. When Denis turned on her, trying to implicate her in the disappearance of Danny, he showed true desperation and it was one of my favorite parts of the book (for the drama - the other part was when Lydia confronted Melissa Anne).

    The only thing that bothered me about the entire book was the description given in the book jacket. It describes a "shocking outcome" in Danny's case. I'm not sure what the statistics are, but I bet most kidnapping cases these days end with the discovery of a brutal death. Or there has been enough kidnapping stories inundated by Nancy Grace and the rest of the media that it seems like they all end in death. Shocking would have been Danny returning, or found trying to live a new life.

    Samantha

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  18. I did enjoy reading this book, though I kept wanting to slap the parents for making Lydia go through this on her own. I found myself taking notes and putting stars by places where one again she was "forgotten" by her parents.

    I didn't like the Shrink... He didn't seem at all helpful to her. I think David was the one place she could have talked through some of her feelings, but he let his teenage hormones get the better of him!!

    I too liked David the best and their interactions. I wish he had more supporting role.

    She seemed to have found a place she could call home. A place that was "normal" when she was accepted into the McAllister family. That was a real bright spot, but then the manic episode with Melissa Anne just tipped her over again. I was hoping that that would be the upswing and her parents would come around.

    I thought her use of alcohol was interesting. She had been a "good" girl up until now and her brother the partier... but I think she found the alcohol not only dulled the pain but it made her more like her brother, not only to others (His friends in particular) but to herself as well. While it drove her away from her old friends (David) I think she felt sub-consciously she had to do something to get to her parents... She needed their love and attention. While she didn't get drunk around them or for them, she felt more like David.

    I think she knew that she could have a real problem on her hands with alcohol and usually fought this problem. Her relationship with Gene at the end of the book is very fragile. She seems to me to be going through the movements of a relationship not living in it. I was struck by her admission to the fact that she was coming back to her reunion was really only for Gene. He was the one that kept bringing it up that kept pushing for them to go, and she says on pg 326 that it is because of him and the fact that he is a good man that it "...was the easiest -- the only -- yes of which I was capable."

    And then she uses alcohol again at the reunion to drive him away from the party and back to her home so she can face these things and people by herself, the way she was taught to.

    I was very sad that her immediate family didn't step in and help her and her mom and Dad when they found David. I didn't realize they were Jewish until the funeral and they seemed to have a big family. And yet no one seemed to step up and take care of any of them. All the large Jewish families I know are always in each other's business so I was not sure if really rang true for me.

    I thought it was a well written story of a teenager who feels totally invisible and has for most of her life. I also felt her constant struggle with the fact that she was not the favored one and the fact that she had brains meant that she knew it. She doesn't seem angry with them; it just is what it is. When her mom starts telling her all about the bargains she made with god to bring David back she talks about all the things she loves that are so special to her ( and some that are not -- her husband) that she is willing to give up just to get him back. Not one of them was her. So she is constantly reminded of how little she means to her parents.

    Kim

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  19. I sort of felt like taking a shower after every time I read about Denis. How alone do you have to feel before you gravitate to him?! I think he knew Lydia was the only person that was going to give him a truer understanding of her brother. I thought Lydia was a brilliant character--I thought she was so real. At that age they are struggling to find their place as it is; Lydia's experience was magnified times 100 because so many people were willing to give her access to their group.

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  20. I did enjoy the book, although frustrated at times during the searching because I wanted them to find something, anything to help Lydia's parents snap out of and be there for her. All of them, for each other. The divide in the family was heart-breaking for me to read and I just wanted to reach through the pages and give that girl a hug. I think the author did an amazing job of making the reader (perhaps especially the moms) feel like we were right there wanting to help.

    I'm not sure I had a favorite character, but I did enjoy Lola. It made me think back to how cruel kids can be at that age and Lola seemed to take it all in stride, being so passionate about what she did and who she was. Even though she originally came to Lydia's side as a nurturer because of her love for Danny, I felt like there really was a deep level of compassion and love for Lydia (for a while). I loved that Lydia saw her for who she was and had somewhat of a sense of humor about the relationship.
    As someone else mentioned, I also was curious about what would have happened had Danny come back alive. Lydia was already so ignored as it was I am sure that would have just added to it, but I was curious about how her and Danny's relationship would have evolved after an experience like that.

    I was so happy there was closure at the end of the book. I think I would have been really irritated if we never learned what happened to Danny. It must be heart-wrenching for parents and families to live with the what-ifs and never knowing what happened.

    Sharon

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