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The Things We Keep
A poignant story of one of today's nightmares: early-onset Alzheimer's.
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What value did the negativity have in the novel?

Created: 03/03/16

Replies: 16

Posted Mar. 03, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Frances

Join Date: 08/01/15

Posts: 32

What value did the negativity have in the novel?

I didn't view the father's suicide as so hateful until the other vicious behaviors came into play. Then I felt the author added these very negative events in an effort to make this facile book have gravitas. The behavior of the mothers toward Eve was blatantly vicious and unbelievable. That they would tell their small children such ugly things was unbelievable, too. Even though there was no concern for Clem's feelings, a parent would protect her own child from such horrible thoughts. And to make little Miranda be a vessel of evil and venom went way too far for me. It seemed that the author had an outline of a story - and sketched in all the parts - and saw that she had a beach read. Wanting it to feel more serious, she added hate and venom to weigh it down. Did anyone else react this way?


Posted Mar. 04, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susanr

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 114

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RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

I disagree with Frances about the behavior of the mothers and the bullying of Clem. Unfortunately, I think that these are very real behaviors in today's world and would happen in a lot of cities in American today. I have a grandchild in the school system today and some of the bullying is so nasty that I could see at a small private school like Clem's, it would be even worse. So I didn't take any of that as the author being overly negative but as a reflection of what is going on in society today.


Posted Mar. 04, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Frances

Join Date: 08/01/15

Posts: 32

RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

Clem was in a public school, not private. That is why Eve had to live within district. I'm sorry to hear you live in a place where this goes on. Remember, Clem was 7 not a preteen or teenager (the age when bullying generally gets bad.) And not one of Eve's friends remained friendly. Not one. If that is what is going on in many places today, how awful. I guess the author must live in an area where it is all superficial and thus she is reflecting society as she sees it. And as you see it. I have never seen it. I see friends remain friendly and supportive. I'm at sea about what kind of social life creates such venom. I know they built big houses on small lots. That's a sign of the McMansion phenomenon - where the house has to show who we are and how much money we have. That is shallow. Also, I didn't think the author was overly negative but rather overly Pollyanna-ish. You could tell from the start it was all going to work out with happy endings. Seemed to me the author put in the negative bits in an attempt to make the book seem less lightweight.


Posted Mar. 04, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
maryjaneb

Join Date: 01/09/16

Posts: 6

RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

I felt the same as Frances regarding the hateful behavior of the mothers and their children. Her whole world fell apart and no one stood by her. Her "friends" disappeared. This didn't seem realistic to me.


Posted Mar. 04, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
iread49

Join Date: 04/10/13

Posts: 47

RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

Eve was a pariah in the community because her husband 's actions hurt so many people including friends. I use friends as a loose term. In many communities "friends" are parents of the the children your children meet in school or activities. They are friendships of convenience and transient at best. Unfortunately there are Miranda's in this world .


Posted Mar. 04, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Frances

Join Date: 08/01/15

Posts: 32

RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

So Eve had no real friendships. It was all superficial and transient. That is really sad. Many of my good friends are women I met when our kids were in school together and we are still good friends decades later. The author did make a point of mentioning that the moms standing around usually gossiped about things like who had Botox. Her way of letting us know those relationships were superficial. It's true that there are vicious girls in the world but 7 seems young to start. I guess you learn hatred at home and Miranda did.


Posted Mar. 06, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
darylb

Join Date: 06/23/13

Posts: 90

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RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

I see the cruelty displayed by Miranda and her mother as a sad but unfortunately real issue. The children are influenced by hateful parents. It is heart breaking that Clementine found out the truth of how her father died from some little brat like that. Eve must not have had any close friendships with the other mothers at their school. I find it hard to believe that a good friend would abandon her in those circumstances.


Posted Mar. 06, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
louisee

Join Date: 06/29/15

Posts: 72

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RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

There is a ripple effect of negativity from Eve's husband's bad business decisions and suicide. Eve needs to work to support her and Clem and she wants to keep Clem in her same school. People think Eve was a part of her husband's business and take out their anger on her.

You find out who your real friends are when something bad happens and that is what happened to Eve and Clem. Eve knew Clem's situation at school was tenuous. When Miranda started being mean to Clem and her mom wanted Clem kicked out of the school, life got more complicated for Eve. She found out she didn't have too many friends left.


Posted Mar. 06, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Frances

Join Date: 08/01/15

Posts: 32

RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

The parents were hateful all around, even to their own children. why would they discuss the father's suicide with their small children? It's the kind of thing we protect our children from, discussing it out of their hearing. These shallow and venomous people spread hatred even though it damaged their own kids. Icky people.


Posted Mar. 07, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susanr

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 114

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RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

After reading through the comments, I have gone back and re-read parts of the book and agree that the negativity of the children was over done. When I first wrote my comment, I had forgotten that Clem was only seven - probably because she acted much older than that in many ways. I could see that kind of behavior from pre-teens but seven is a bit young.


Posted Mar. 07, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeanettel

Join Date: 01/05/12

Posts: 53

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RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

Life is in itself positive and negative, how people cope with the negative is what will help them handle the day to day reality. People are very cruel sometimes and this also reflects on their children. Eve had the choice of moving to another district and another school to protect Clementine and herself or the choice she took which was to stay in the same district and the same school for Clementine and face whatever came, in this way teach Clementine how to handle life even though she was only seven..


Posted Mar. 10, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jww

Join Date: 05/31/11

Posts: 138

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RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

Anna's friends seemed very realistic to me. And if Frances thinks bullying only starts in pre-teen years, she obviously went to an exceptional grade school. I remember mine and the bullying was rampant. Children can be extremely cruel. They pickup on what their parents are talking about and project it in their own vicious way. This is not unusual. And it doesn't matter if it's a public or private school. Children are children wherever they are.
Anna should have realized what would happen. After all, she was being shunned. What did she think would happen to Clem? She wanted Clem to stay in the 'good' school but I don't think she thought out the consequences of her decision. She was still hoping life would be as before.


Posted Mar. 10, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Frances

Join Date: 08/01/15

Posts: 32

RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

Sorry to hear you went to such a school. My schools, my kids' schools, nieces, nephews, friends, etc. Very little bullying until junior high. Rampant bullying means the teachers and staff are paying no attention. And the parents I know do not talk about these things in front of their kids or with their kids. It may not be unusual for adults to be hateful and thoughtless and indifferent to their kids' well-being. So much the worse. I have never seen it. Kids are kids but they are often happy and fun-seeking and friendly and nice. Not sure if extreme poverty or racial tension or class tension would make the atmosphere so toxic. Or maybe expectation? Studies show kids do better if teachers think the kids are smart. Perhaps in communities where people think hate and nastiness are the norm, that behavior is elicited. This was in New Jersey, right? Maybe the author is making a statement about New Jersey.


Posted Mar. 10, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Frances

Join Date: 08/01/15

Posts: 32

RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

Kept thinking about jww's post and feeling deeply sad that there are elementary schools where bullying is rampant. I met some children in a playground once (Elmira, NY) who probably were that kind of children. I remembered it because their behavior was so unusual. I remember wondering what kind of parents they had.
Looking back from adulthood, I suspect the parents were authoritarian and told the children what to think rather than encouraging original thinking. But for an entire school to allow rampant bullying is mind-boggling. Then I began to wonder if my comment about New Jersey was valid. Perhaps the author visited from Australia, stayed in NJ, hated it, and decided to set a story about dreadful people there. A personal dig at the state. I wonder. I am still feeling the distress of thinking of a child going through elementary school in a place where bullying is rampant. How did you get through each day? Are you still affected by it? Very sad.


Posted Mar. 14, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susanr

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 114

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RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

I don't think that the bullying is a comment at the people of any particular state -- I think that bullying happens at schools at every state and YES i does happen in elementary schools. Not at all schools and I think that it does depend on how the school administration handles it but kids can be very mean and they often reflect their parents views on other people but don't have a filter not to say things that shouldn't be said. I think that Clem's school was full of very pretentious mothers of their daughters reflected their mothers' opinions of Clem and Anna (and some of them may have lost money to her dad, which would have made it even worse).


Posted Mar. 17, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susank

Join Date: 06/28/11

Posts: 13

RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

So much negativity in this book - from the bullying and ostracism of Clem, the shunning of Eve by all of her friends (I just couldn't believe that ALL of her friends would forsake her!), to the negativity around the relationship between Anna and Luke. It certainly did make one root for the good guys, but I think the author laid it on a little too thickly, for me, at least. I guess the author was trying to show that 'right' will prevail over 'might'.


Posted Mar. 17, 2016 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Frances

Join Date: 08/01/15

Posts: 32

RE: What value did the negativity have in the novel?

I agree with you that the author laid it on too thick. My take on it was that the book was light and fluffy, not particularly serious or deep, even though it was about a serious topic. I felt she wanted the book to seem more serious and less fluffy so she added all those negatives, many unbelievable, in an effort to make the book seem to be deep.


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