A couple seconds into reading this second half I realized that the point of view changed – just as I had hoped it would! I was eager to get a different point of view, and although I am still so curious about the dad and his point of view on his relationship with his wife, having the story be told by the son is equally as intriguing. Although I have to admit, I was quite confused because he kept using “you”, for example: “while you and I were at school, Pa and Ma …” (195). Of course, I quickly realized the brother is referring to his sister. Here again we see the importance of storytelling; the bother is looking into the past and remembering this road trip, and all the things that his sister is unable to remember, he pulls from his own memory. In the first half the mother was so concerned and preoccupied with the topic of storytelling, but now, while I thought the majority of this ‘overthinking’ (as I previously referred to it as) would vanish, it hasn’t. There seems to be a little bit of the same tone present in the narration. One thing that really caught my attention was when the boy was describing the time when they all first moved into the apartment together and he says: ”even though we didn’t know one another well, we all laughed a lot together.” (195). It’s interesting that relationships like this one, between 4 people, starts from nothing, and progresses into a bond strong enough to move in together, and then to be stuck in the same car together. This novel has actually made me reflect a lot on my own personal relationships with each of my family members. I think back to the countless road trips we have taken together as a family of 5; the drives always started off super fun and exciting, but as the time passed my sisters and I slowly but surely began to go crazy. I remember being so bored and all I could do was watch my parents in the front seat, while listening to whatever CD it was that my parents chose to put on; and if my parents were to argue, it was impossible to ignore them because I had nothing else to do. I think the car in this novel is really key; as we said before, it’s a safe place but it’s also an unsafe place because there is so much uncertainty as to what conversations will take place, who will end up starting an argument, etc.
It’s also interesting that the boy now calls himself a documentarist and a documentarian “at the same time” (210); he had wanted to document as much as he could, knowing his sister wouldn’t be able to remember. I stick with what I said in our last discussion about how this novel seems to be all about the idea of ‘capturing’; whether it be capturing a moment, a smile, a story, an experience, etc. It’s about capturing and storing whatever has been captured, in whatever way possible.
For some reason I get the sense that the father (versus the mother) is more immersed in his ‘work’ life; I put ‘work’ in quotations because I also get the sense that his job as a father and his job as a documentarist overlap quite a bit. The stories the father tells the children are not typical stories a father would tell his young children; they are not light-hearted, super happy nor funny, but they do relate to his ‘work’. One line that stood out to me was when the boy says: “Sometimes I couldn’t tell if he was telling stories or telling histories” (216).
I find the passing along of stories in this novel super interesting, and it reminded me of the fact that we often hear stories but never really pay attention to the backstory, or where the story came from. In the novel, the boy tells us his own stories about the past, but he also tells us stories that had been previously told to him. These are stories that involve something initially happening somewhere in he world, which is then reported on by the media, which is then presented to the public through a variety of mediums. Then someone, like the father in this novel, re-tells this same story to his children, and now the boy is re-telling the same story to us through a novel that has been written who knows how many years after the initial event (hope that made some sort of sense). The boy’s memory seems to be extremely well-functioning; the amount of detail he is able to pull from his memory is very remarkable. I also find it interesting how these stories that the father tells the children overlap with real life; what I mean is that throughout the whole novel the children are constantly asking whether something they see in the present relates to what they have heard in a story. For example, on page 231 the boy says: “I asked papa if the echoes we heard earlier that day were like the ones in echo canyon he’d told us about”. Another example when the boy says: “I could try to make the night longer, the way Geronimo had the power to stretch out time during a night of battle” (233). Then when the children leave home and fend for themselves, the boy says: “I used to only pee in toilets, but I had learned to do it in the open, just like the boy did from the top of the gondola” (269). The children’s heads seem to be constantly living in present real life, and the stories they have been told. My last point here has to do with children viewing their parents as experts, or as if they know everything. When I was younger, I used to think that my parents knew everything about everything, and it’s sort of a weird feeling to grow up and slowly but surely realize that this isn’t exactly true. I think this idea plays a role in this novel, but I’m not too sure yet exactly how it does. It does however, have to do with growing up. While I didn’t think we would see that theme in this novel, we most definitely do. On page 239 the boy says: “And when I went back inside, I felt like I was finally almost a grown man”.
I loved the way all the stories came together at the end. The way the novel ends even leaves us with the idea that there is yet another story to be told, but this time by the sister. This is definitely my favourite novel we have read this semester, and I definitely want to read it again this summer! This is the first novel we have read this semester to make me very emotional, maybe even cry a little bit!