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Monthly Book Discussion > Embrace Me-week 1

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message 1: by Lady Day (last edited Sep 08, 2012 10:41AM) (new)

Lady Day (ladyday) | 228 comments Hi Ladies! I hope you're all enjoying the group read thus far. I certainly am. It's challenging to stop reading. Here are some questions to ponder about the reading this week.

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1) How does Lella and Valentine's physical dependence on each other reflect their emotional / spiritual relationship with each other?

2) What role is Lella playing in Valentine's life?

3) What does Drew's letters to Father Brian and his self-mutilation reveal about his character and the nature of his ministry?

4) Have you ever sensed that your church minister/pastor had the wrong motives? How did you respond?

5) Did you at any point sense that Drew's relationship his dad was out of sync?

6) Are there any prevalent themes that you're seeing develop in the first 5 chapters?


message 2: by Connie (new)

Connie Beard (ConnieB5254) | 51 comments Since this is my first group read discussion, I'm not exactly positive how it's supposed to work, but here goes.
1) Lella seems to depend on Valentine physically, but seems pretty emotionally and spiritually healthy. Valentine, on the other hand, seems unhealthy all the way around. She hasn't yet come to terms with her physical condition. She seems to be unable to cope with her emotions, so she is emotionally hard to almost everyone else in her life.

2) Lella appears to be Valentine's only friend. She is able to see the real Valentine; the one that even Val doesn't really know or accept.

3)Drew's ministry was never an extension of a personal relationship with God; he was in the ministry for all the wrong reasons. Self-mutilation is generally a way to express inner pain. Drew obviously recognizes the error of his ways. He knows he doesn't deserve forgiveness, but seems to question whether he is even able to ask. The very fact that he went to a Catholic church seems to me to mean that he's looking for some kind of penance.

4) I have never personally been a member of a church where I sensed the pastor's motives were wrong. My husband and I went to church with family for a short time. I don't know that the pastor's motives were really wrong, but he was complacent, at the least. My husband, on the other hand, sensed wrong motives. We were able to discuss our thoughts and feelings with some family members. Eventually, we decided not to return to that church as long as that pastor stayed there.

5) Completely! Drew's dad seems hyper-critical, especially of his son.

6) The only theme I am seeing at the moment is inner pain and the inability to express it in an appropriate manner.


Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
I think Lella and Valentine's relationship is...interesting.

Honestly, I'm having trouble with this book. The subject matter is not a genre I usually read. Some of the references to people and Bible verses is lost on me because I don't have that knowledge.

I do know that Drew's motives for his church are not in the people's best interest. He seemed to be all about the show and how he can make his church bigger and better. But maybe he learned that showmanship and need to be flashy from his political father. Maybe he's trying to either one up his father, or in a way, make him proud??

I'm confused as to what the Lella/Valentine story line has to do with the Drew story line but it's still early in the book.

I agree with Connie about any themes so far...pain is prominent. Trying to crush the pain out instead of deal with it head on seems to be what the main characters are all about. Although, not Lella. She is the most "needy" in terms of physical need, but she seems to have it more mentally together than the others.


message 4: by Connie (new)

Connie Beard (ConnieB5254) | 51 comments I'm really curious about the story line connection. I did notice there's like a six year separation, which just adds more confusion.

I'm enjoying the book so far.


message 5: by Lady Day (new)

Lady Day (ladyday) | 228 comments When I began the book, I was surprised by the fact that I never ever in life thought about where the circus/side show employees dwelled once the show came to an end.

1) Initially I thought Lella and Valentine were related. Although the pain is evident in Valentine's life, I think Lella has come to terms with her physical impairments and despite her physical limitations chooses to live it in a positive and kind manner. If I faced a life of total dependence on someone else, I'm not sure I could make such a choice.

2) Lella is the voice of reason for Valentine, for sure!

3) Drew gave "lip service" to the faith, the church and the members of his congregation. This portion weighed heavily on my heart, in that many church leaders do this very thing. Putting on a facade of having a relationship with Christ while misleading so many people that trust them.

4) Before accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior ten years ago, I visited many churches in my local area; looking for "the one". During this time, I witnessed what I know to be false teachings, miscontrued doctrine and a misuse of influence. Needless to say, I chose not to join either of those congregations.

5) Drew's focus on pleasing his father has impeded all that he does and thinks. I wonder if the son's of prominent clergymen(John Osteen/Joel Osteen, Robert H. Schuller/Robert A. Schuller, John Hagee/Matthew Hagee)felt or feel similar pressure to live up to or to surpass their father's accomplishments?

6) Co-dependency, fear, insecurities, and lack of self-esteem pervades the first five chapters.

I'm enjoying the unpredictability of the story. Like both of you....I'm not sure if the two stories will intersect at some point! If so, will it be seamless or forced? There are questions that I need answers to and hope they're revealed in the upcoming reading.

~Enjoy Ladies!


message 6: by Connie (new)

Connie Beard (ConnieB5254) | 51 comments You are so right about the themes. Once I read your list I was wondering how I missed them. You also make a good point about the sons and fathers. And like you said, I have so many questions that I hope are answered.


Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
Connie wrote: "I'm really curious about the story line connection. I did notice there's like a six year separation, which just adds more confusion.

I'm enjoying the book so far."


I noticed that too!! Interesting...


Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
Lady Day wrote: "When I began the book, I was surprised by the fact that I never ever in life thought about where the circus/side show employees dwelled once the show came to an end.

1) Initially I thought Lella a..."


As far as Valentine and Lella go, it seems that Valentine wasn't born with her "deformity" and Lella was. And I think I remember that Lella's parents were incredibly loving and didn't treat her any differently than a "normal" child. Maybe that has helped her in her self security whereas Valentine hasn't yet developed that. The fact that Valentine hasn't been honest about how she came to look like she does leads me to believe that, like you said, she hasn't yet come to terms with her impairment or lot in life. I wish I knew the real story of what happened to her.

If you were able to sense the ulterior motives of the leaders in the churches you tried, why do you think that Drew's congregation can't sense his waning love for Christ? Wouldn't you think that they could somehow tell that he wasn't true and honest in his intentions? Just curious...


message 9: by Connie (new)

Connie Beard (ConnieB5254) | 51 comments I really hope the true story is revealed. I think there are many reasons a church doesn't recognize or tolerates insincere minister. Sometimes their relationship with God is almost non-existent; they don't know the Bible well enough to see the difference. Some churches are brainwashed, some are complacent. Unfortunately, there are too many reasons for me to even think of right now.


Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
Oh oh! I have a theory about the week 2 reading!! LOL!!! I can't share it here though! Blah!


Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
Connie wrote: "I really hope the true story is revealed. I think there are many reasons a church doesn't recognize or tolerates insincere minister. Sometimes their relationship with God is almost non-existent; t..."

I'm sure all will be revealed in time. I guess being a pastor/priest/leader can become just like any other "job" if your heart isn't in the right place. How many times in our working lives have we just gone through the motions?? I just worry that it's too late for Drew to regain his reasons why he got into that line of work in the first place.


message 12: by Connie (new)

Connie Beard (ConnieB5254) | 51 comments I haven't even started week 2's chapters yet. I'm planning to at least get started on them tonight or tomorrow.


message 13: by Connie (new)

Connie Beard (ConnieB5254) | 51 comments Good point on the job angle. I don't think it's too late for Drew to turn it around, especially since he seems to be searching. But the same church may not be the right place.


Maranda (addlebrained_reader) (mannadonn) | 367 comments Mod
Connie wrote: "Good point on the job angle. I don't think it's too late for Drew to turn it around, especially since he seems to be searching. But the same church may not be the right place."

I agree. He shouldn't go to the same church. Maybe he shouldn't be a pastor at all. He needs to go on the journey for himself and himself alone. Hopefully he gets there and finds inner peace and something that gives him joy and fulfillment.


message 15: by Lady Day (new)

Lady Day (ladyday) | 228 comments Ladies, you all have posted some great thoughts and comments on the content of the first week. I had a few more lines that jumped out at me about this section of reading. Let me know what your thoughts are?

1. Is all the deprivation and gore really necessary? [pg. 64]

2. Did the Son of God care about His hair so much? [pg. 64]

3. Do you think of Jesus as smelly, poor, a failure in our defintion of the word? Is He just not enough anymore? [pg. 65]

4. Is "that turn the other cheek stuff" impractical for today? [pg. 66]

5. What's Hermy's significance? To Drew? The plot?


message 16: by Lori (new)

Lori | 23 comments I'm behind on reading this month. I just got Embrace Me from the library on Tuesday because I had visitors and was traveling at the beginning of this month. This is a pretty quick read, I like it so far, especially because its looking at the faith each of the characters have and their relationships and how those relationships are affected by their faith or vice versa. I agree with everyone who said at this point that they weren't sure how the characters are tied together. I look forward to reading the rest of the book.


message 17: by Lady Day (new)

Lady Day (ladyday) | 228 comments Lori wrote: "I'm behind on reading this month. I just got Embrace Me from the library on Tuesday because I had visitors and was traveling at the beginning of this month. This is a pretty quick read, I like it s..."

GREAT Lori! I'm soooo glad you could join us. It is a quick read and an unusual mix of characters. Please free to add comments to the discussion(s) as you get caught up. Once again, glad you've joined us for this read.


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