S4L Book Club – The Girls

S4L Book Club - The Girls: A Novel, by Lori LansensLines We Love
(from Shelly)

Jen was talking about some of the Lines I Love in a recent comment about The Girls. Here they are:

When I groaned about it [having to go to summer school] to Aunt Lovey, she’d said, “Ruby’s going to summer school for the math, but you’ll be learning a valuable lesson too, Rose.”

I’d have stomped, if I were a stomper. “It’s just not fair,” I whined.

“Yep.” She’d nodded. “That’s the lesson.”

I just love Aunt Lovey and her attitude toward life. What struck me as particularly noteworthy in those lines is that fact that probably no one knows more than Ruby and Rose how terribly unfair life can be! I think they had already grasped that concept. But I think Aunt Lovey was pointing out that it’s a lesson that’s worth repeating.

Lori Lansens does an excellent job of character development. Aunt Lovey’s attitude and outlook are clearly evident in these lines:

Aunt Lovey believed people could be separated into three categories. People who love children. People who love their own children. And people who don’t even like children but have pets they call Baby.

Lansens does a particularly good job of helping the reader feel the emotions of both girls. Here’s a good example:

I was thinking of those childhood prayers, Aunt Lovey’s soft cheek, Ruby’s quick road to slumber. In those dark, quiet moments when only I was awake, my prayers private and real, crickets courting in the weeds under our window, the smell of fish coming from the river not awful like it can be but glorious, I’d notice things: how Ruby smelled different because she was on a certain medication, or how smooth her hair felt when it fell between us, or how lovely the weight of her hand resting on my collarbone. It would occur to me how deeply I loved my sister, and how profoundly I was loved by her. I think I found something of God in that. And in the way Aunt Lovey kissed me. And in the sound of Uncle Stash’s voice when he said, “My girls.”

I’ll save some more Lines I Love for another day. Until then…

Categories: Reading

3 replies »

  1. This book was chock-full of Lines We Love, wasn’t it? I agree, too, that Lansens does a great job developing her characters. They are wonderfully real, which I think means well-rounded.

    Here’s a question: What do you make of Stash’s infidelity with Mrs. Merkel? Why do you think the author made that part of his character? Do you think it fits?

    And why do you think Rose wanted to keep that secret from Ruby?

  2. My, what tough questions you ask.

    I found Stash’s infidelity distressing, even though I knew that I was reading about a fictional character. I was saddened by it, and I hurt for Rose, Ruby, and Lovey. Maybe the author felt it made Stash more human, more fallible? I’m not sure. I could have done without the infidelity, and and I would have felt like I’d missed nothing.

    I think that Rose wanted to keep it a secret from Ruby to protect her from the hurt that she herself felt. Purely looking out for her sister. What are your thoughts?

  3. First, I was really disappointed in Stash. Then I was angry with Lori Lansens. I didn’t want that in the book!

    I’m not so bothered now, and I’ll even consider that maybe it adds another layer, albeit one I don’t like.

    However, it feels like an isolated, unexplained incident that really doesn’t fit with the rest of what we know about Stash and Lovey. I mean, the guy dies of a broken heart a week after Lovey dies. He wills his own death, unwilling to go on without her. Is that really the behavior of an unfaithful man?

    We don’t know if the incident was a one-time thing or an extended affair. Lovey was tough as nails. What would she have done if she had known?

    We know very little of Mrs. Merkel, but what we know is she’s all wrapped up in her loss. This incident doesn’t make sense with what we know of her.

    My conclusion is that it doesn’t fit. It’s a slub in an otherwise smooth fabric, and that feels like a flaw. It needs to make sense and be understandable–even if we don’t like it–in some context of the story, and I can’t connect it to anything. I can’t make sense of it in regards to Stash, Lovey, or Mrs. Merkel.

    I agree that Rose is protecting Ruby from the awful knowledge.