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The Kindest Lie


A timely and soul-stirring novel about the lies families tell each other and the...
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Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I learned a long time ago is that you can't live your life looking back." What do you think he means, and do you agree?

Created: 01/27/22

Replies: 12

Posted Jan. 27, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barrye

Join Date: 07/20/14

Posts: 53

Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I learned a long time ago is that you can't live your life looking back." What do you think he means, and do you agree?

Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I learned a long time ago is that you can't live your life looking back." What do you think he means, and do you agree?


Posted Jan. 28, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
charlaw's Gravatar
charlaw

Join Date: 09/06/16

Posts: 30

RE: Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I ...

I think he meant that she needed to let go of the past and focus on the present and the future. Maybe he also meant that you should learn from the past so you don’t continue making the same mistakes. I agree with this view and believe that if you can learn something from a bad experience that something good came from the experience, which in turn makes the experience worthwhile.


Posted Jan. 28, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sweeney

Join Date: 05/24/11

Posts: 203

RE: Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I ...

I agree with charlaw; however, in many ways you need the past in order to learn and move forward in the future.


Posted Jan. 28, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 265

RE: Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I ...

I agree with Eli. We should learn something from the past but the events of the past shouldn’t block our sense of adventure and interfere with our ability to start again.


Posted Jan. 29, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

Posts: 413

RE: Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I ...

There's an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal this morning (1/29) in the power and value of regret -- looking at the past and learning from one's mistakes -- that speaks to this issue. While Eli emphasizes the value of looking forward ( with which I agree) he neglects the power of looking back and learning from what has happened. I think it is best to look both ways, then balance the opportunities and lessons.


Posted Jan. 29, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 564

RE: Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I ...

People can and do need to learn from past mistakes. That is a part of various stories both religious and secular since the beginning of recorded history. The extremely popular book The Midnight Library is all about regrets and the inability to see the possibility for a fresh start.


Posted Jan. 29, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jos

Join Date: 03/14/21

Posts: 161

RE: Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I ...

I agree with most that’s been already said, especially Laurap‘s statement.
Life lessons are powerful ways to learn about ourselves, about history and about how to live your best life forward. It’s how we learn what we believe in and what we value as we continue living in the present and what we want to strive for in the future.


Posted Jan. 29, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janetp

Join Date: 08/16/11

Posts: 31

RE: Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I ...

I agree that looking back and wishing things were different never brings anything but grief for what has already taken place. However, I agree with many that looking back and learning from the "life lessons" from our past and hopefully, the wisdom we have gained from this is important. But, back to the characters in this book, Ruth has been paralyzed by her past. She gave in to her grandma and brother and chose University life over raising her black son, probably in poverty. I went back and forth as to whether or not this choice was correct, so I thank Nancy Johnson for hooking me into Ruth's struggles, but the past is the past, and I think Ruth finally realizes that and will probably move on positively with her life. I hope so. I have a strong belief that parents need to tell a child when he/she is adopted. For some of the problems Ruth caused for the Cunninghams and their mistake in not telling their son this truth, I question their wisdom. But it was hard to read "the reveal" because the past comes back to haunt them and their choice of secrecy from their son. They were ideal parents, however, in every way but this choice and they can't look back and change it either.


Posted Jan. 30, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
carriem

Join Date: 10/19/20

Posts: 264

RE: Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I ...

I also agree with laurap's answer that we must look forward as Eli suggested but we must not forget our past because we can learn from it and often isourfoundation either to expand from or sometimes rebel against.


Posted Jan. 30, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 466

RE: Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I ...

I think one of the reasons that Ruth was so caught up in her past is due to the fact that she had no control over what happened. She learned from her grandmother around New Year's that her grandmother wanted more than anything to study at Juilliard. That didn't happen for her, so Mama did everything in her power to make sure that Ruth would not miss her opportunity at Yale. There was no discussion about Ruth's pregnancy. It was treated as something she should be ashamed of (she was hidden at home, gave birth at home), and Ruth was not given an opportunity to participate in any decisions regarding what would happen after birth. Almost immediately after the birth of her son, she was hustled off the school. I'm sure she was both physically and emotionally in shock. By never returning to Gantan and losing contact with her family, it was easy for Ruth to pretend the past never happened.

It was only when Xavier wanted to start a family that Ruth's carefully constructed walls began to crumble.

I agree with Eli's statement- -but only if the past was dealt with when it was the present! Everything about Ruth's pregnancy and the birth of her child was stuffed down in the bottom of a box and buried. Because of this, Ruth was working through what happened to her 11 years too late. She wasn't so much living her life in the past, as she was finally processing the past. Some of her process made me think that emotionally, Ruth was stuck in her 17 year old self. It was only through coming to terms with her past that Ruth can now be comfortable where she is in the present and begin to plan for her future with Xavier.


Posted Feb. 04, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
windellh

Join Date: 11/05/17

Posts: 72

RE: Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I ...

Eli was saying that you can't fix the past but you learn from it Staying in the now is much less stressful.


Posted Feb. 24, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
taking.mytime's Gravatar
taking.mytime

Join Date: 03/29/16

Posts: 424

RE: Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I ...

Eli thinks you should look to the future since you can't relive the past. He is right partially. You can learn from the past to make better decisions in the future. However you can go back to the past to make amends for things that you feel need correcting. Some things weight so heavy on a person that they need to go back to the past and clean up mistakes, search for answers, or make amends.


Posted Mar. 03, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
djcminor

Join Date: 03/14/19

Posts: 208

RE: Eli tells Ruth, "One thing I ...

Indeed, I agree that we cannot continue to look backward and lament what has happened. It is not going to change, so we should find ways to move forward. We definitely should learn from our past mistakes and even those mistakes we observe in others, but they should not define the future.


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