I am really enjoying this novel so far, but I can’t quite pin point exactly why – I am going to use this blog post to try and figure out why by spilling out my thoughts. If I am being honest, I am quite shocked that I am such a fun because I think a lot of people (including myself even just 2 years ago) would maybe find it too boring. I think part of the reason I like it so much is because I am constantly fascinated by the narrator, her words, and they way she delivers her thoughts. I remember Jon saying something last week about how the mother (the narrator) is an over-thinker, and even by page 1 I had made this observation myself. In a strangely pleasant way, I find myself becoming slightly anxious while reading this novel, and it’s all due to the narrator being an over-thinker, and therefore the narration being super fast-paced, as if time is moving very quickly. Actually, the mother even talks about how fast time is moving, both directly and indirectly. I find the descriptions in this novel super interesting; it seems on each and every page there was something that caught my attention, for example on page 84 the mother describes a woman as having: “Hyperthyrodial eyes”. Another reason I think I like this novel so much is because I can somehow establish a personal connection to either the characters, the situation, etc., on pretty much each page. There are things the children say that I specifically remember myself saying as a kid; for example: “when will we get there?” (15). This was the only thing that came out of me and my sisters’ mouths on road trips; every five minutes my parents would have to give us an answer. I also think that this novel is just beautifully written – there is so much thought and emotion in every sentence. There are so many times where I find myself rereading the same cluster of words just because of how beautifully written it is. I like how we as readers are let into all aspects of their lives; their jobs, their family, their relationship problems, etc. Interestingly though, we don’t even know any of their names. In my opinon, in this novel it seems that the narrator overcomplicates and overanalyzes things, where as in “House on Mango Street” it’s as if things are not analyzed enough. Interestingly enough, the tendencies to overanalyze and under analyze both left me with questions. Of course the ways in which sounds and space are used in this novel was also super interesting to me; something so simple like sound is turned into something to major – it’s almost as if it’s a character. Even the mother recognizes this: “Sound and space are connected in a way much deeper than we usually acknowledge” (39). I think this theme of sound extends to the narration itself; each paragraph is either filled with so much noise, or so much silence.
As much as this novel is about children, I think it is just as much about storytelling; throughout the entire first half, there are always stories being told. Whether it is the mother telling stories about her relationship/the situation at the border with the “lost children”, or the father who tells stories about the Apache children, among other things. On page 185 the mother even says: “For a long time I’ve been worried about what to tell our children, how to give them a story. But now, as I listen to the boy telling the story of this instant … / It’s his version of the story that will outlive us; his version that will remain an be passed down.” (185) It is also a story about and marriage, and relationships in general (between partners, between mother/father and child/step-child, etc.). The second paragraph on page 82 is just one of the many examples of where the mother reflects on her own relationship with her partner, and expresses how much she loves him, and how this is sometimes the problem, or rather HER problem as she likes the put it. I am fascinated by the relationship dynamics in this novel; each relationship is so unique.
I don’t really know how to explain this well but I also think this novel is sort of exclusive; what I mean is that there are so many references in this book to other songs, other books, etc.. One example is Lord of the Flies; if you’ve never heard of or read the book, maybe the parts of the novel that mention this book won’t make us much sense. This novel challenged me in this way; it was like a test of how much I know and how much I don’t.