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Black River
Four starred reviews for this debut that will turn readers' hearts inside out.
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Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

Created: 01/08/16

Replies: 12

Posted Jan. 08, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1318

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Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them? Or is one of them more at fault for the tensions between them?


Posted Jan. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mal

Join Date: 09/09/13

Posts: 155

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RE: Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

Tough question. From the outside looking in I would say both were responsible but.... I feel Wes should have tried more given his role as adult and parent. The role of step-parent is tough enough let alone the circumstances of Dennis not to mention his teen years. Lack of communication was a huge contributor both males were rather closed off. There were glimpses when I felt responsibility was shared, the history between the two creates merky water.


Posted Jan. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
poornimaa

Join Date: 05/16/12

Posts: 52

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RE: Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

Wesley is much more frail than Dennis, he's a difficult character to parse, petty in some ways and even self-centered in others. One could say that the wounds he suffered are still raw and his taciturn nature surely doesn't buy him any allies most especially with Dennis. But both men grow in very real ways over the course of the novel, something I enjoyed watching.


Posted Jan. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Linda Shaw

Join Date: 06/14/11

Posts: 3

RE: Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

Normally, one would assign the major responsibility to the adult - to Wesley, in this case as he is the one that is the adult throughout the book, but I don't think you can say that here. It seems Dennis is angry because his birth is the result of a rape, and he takes it out on Wesley, who though he has his own demons to deal with, does not turn his back on Dennis until he is forced to do so. Other than Wesley's private, remote nature and Dennis' explosive temper, Hulse does not sufficiently explore, at least to my mind, the source of the enmity between the two men, certainly not enough to explain the gun scene, and to me, it is the big fault in the book.


Posted Jan. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeannewny

Join Date: 01/10/16

Posts: 20

RE: Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

Both men had issues. Neither were too forthcoming with their thoughts or feelings. I, too, feel that the gun incident was never really explained. I would think it would have to be something huge for a mother to leave her child.


Posted Jan. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ritah

Join Date: 05/26/11

Posts: 34

RE: Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

I tend to agree with Linda that gun scene was way too dramatic for the situation. I realize that Dennis was a teenager and felt unwanted as a result of his conception, but to draw a loaded gun is an extreme action that would indicate a significantly disturbed individual in my mind and I don't think Dennis was portrayed as that disturbed. I then found it difficult to believe that the adults would just up and leave and give him the house. Why would the adults run away? That did not ring true with me.


Posted Jan. 11, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Linda Shaw

Join Date: 06/14/11

Posts: 3

RE: Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

Yes, ritah, good point: why reward bad (terrible, actually) behavior - with a house?


Posted Jan. 14, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
tracyd

Join Date: 05/31/15

Posts: 30

RE: Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

Wes does initially because the problems started when Dennis was a child. However, Dennis as an adult has the ability not to engage or to make the problems continue, which he sometimes does, knowing that Wes is battling some pretty heavy burdens at this time.


Posted Jan. 14, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
peggya

Join Date: 06/03/15

Posts: 11

RE: Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

Working as a family therapist for many years, I feel it is always up to the parents to initiate the conversation first. Nonetheless, if resolution and forgiveness is ever to come to a resolution, both the adults and grown children have to authentically be present and take a meaningful part in the process.


Posted Jan. 14, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynnw

Join Date: 09/01/11

Posts: 124

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RE: Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

Wes seems to realize that he could have handled situations in a more empathetic manner, but after the riot it was just too difficult. Dennis remembers what happened with the memories of a teenager. They both are aware of their difficulties, but neither one can totally overcome them. Perhaps with time they can heal.


Posted Jan. 17, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Mary J

Join Date: 04/26/15

Posts: 37

RE: Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

Neither of Dennis' parents who raised him (Claire or Wesley, the stepfather) were able to communicate very well with Dennis about his parentage. Dennis had grown up with many unanswered questions about his father, and the answers were not dealt with very well. There seemed to be such a deficit of communication and especially expressions of love in that family. It is no wonder their relationship became more and more difficult. However, it is never too late for reconciliation and as an adult, Dennis became equally responsible.


Posted Feb. 01, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scottishrose

Join Date: 07/24/11

Posts: 38

RE: Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

It is a hard question to answer because we are never really told what created the incident with the gun and why Wes and Claire leave Black River. We are also not told how Dennis lives in the couple of years until he becomes an adult. It is mentioned that Wes sends him money, but nothing else about how he survives. I do find it interesting that Claire had asked Dennis to try with Wes if he came to him. And Dennis did seem to make a certain amount of effort, but it was not until Wes was willing to let go of the past that there seemed to be some hope for a real relationship between the two of them.


Posted Feb. 05, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 130

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RE: Both Dennis and Wesley bear responsibility for the difficult nature of their relationship—but is it shared equally between them?

When we meet them, they are both adults, so they both share the responsibility. Obviously, that was different when Dennis was younger, and so Wes brings to their new, adult relationship a greater sense of guilt for not being a 'good enough parent,' which is pretty hard to be anyway, let alone as a step-parent... especially where the child has unresolved anger toward the actual, missing parent. (I know this from my own direct experience.)

To his credit, Dennis realizes this, I think. He does seem to make an effort, even though it is misplaced at times (such as trying to joke about the night he threatened Wes with the gun, an indirect way of trying to test the waters and see if they can get past that, which shows us that Dennis too feels guilt).

It seemed to me they each needed to get past their own self-blame, and they each needed to mentor Scott as a way of proving they were good men, so Scott's suicide was a blow. We end with a sense that this additional shared loss, and Wes's choice to live in hope, will bring them closer in the future.

Scottishrose, I thought that during those years after Wes and Claire left Dennis, it was indicated that Farmer and his (late) wife Madeleine, Claire's sister -- Dennis's aunt and uncle -- were "in loco parentis" even though Dennis had the house to himself. Unusual, but they lived next door to one another (Wes could see the house through Farmer's window when he stayed there). And Dennis certainly seemed to be a capable, hands-on kind of guy. Taking charge of himself in this way was perhaps exactly what he needed to do to learn responsibility for his actions towards others.


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