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Long Bright River
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Group Read - Long Bright River > Group Read - Long Bright River 25-50% Spoilers Welcome

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message 1: by Ann (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14297 comments Spoilers welcome discussion topic #2 for 25% - 50% of Long Bright River. If the first to post please briefly summarize to guide the discussion and try to explain where the narrative cuts off if possible.


message 2: by Geri (last edited Jan 29, 2020 08:52AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Geri Section ends: “I’ll meet you at Emerald and Cumberland.” I hardly recognize myself these days. “Is she alright?”, I say to Truman. “I don’t know.” says Truman.

- Mickey has had a panic attack. She inquires about another woman found strangled. O’Hearn tells Mickey she said Truman’s name in the locker room.

- Mickey tells us about an attack on her partner, Truman. Mickey feels guilt over this situation.

- Mickey visits Truman at his home.

- Mickey tells Truman about his sister and gets advice. He promises to try and track down “Dock”.

- Truman leads Mickey to Mr. Wright who knows Dock. Mr. Wright tells Mickey to come back later.

- Truman tells Mickey Mr. Wright allows people to shoot up and helps them if necessary.

- Mickey and another Officer at a domestic call.

- Mickey meets Dock. He tells her that He hasn’t seen Kacey in months.

- Mickey tries to track down Simon since he has not been around or paying support. Simon threatens to take Thomas away from Mickey. And Mickey decides to move and start her life over.

- At Ashley’s house for Thanksgiving.

- Talking to relatives. Bobby says he hasn’t seen Kacey in a year. Everybody knows Dock and says Dock is bad news.

- Mickey tells us about meeting with Simon at 17. And how Kacey kept getting worse until she is kicked out of the house.

- Mickey’s Grandmother refuses to help her to go to college. Simon encourages Mickey to go to the police academy.

- Mickey does what Simon advised. By 22 she buys a house. In a secret relationship with Simon. Kacey gets worse.

- Mickey talks to Paula. She confirms she knew one victim. She recognizes a person in a video and identifies them as a cop.

- Kacey gets better after rehab. She moves in with Mickey. Life is good for awhile. Simon and Kacey don’t really like each other.

- Mickey asks Truman over the phone if he knows of a cop who wears a sweatshirt with Wildwood on it and asks favors of the women in their district in exchange for letting them go. Truman has to hang up.

- Mickey finds her babysitter asleep on the job. She plans for her son’s birthday party.

- due to snowstorm, Mickey has to leave Thomas with his landlady.

- Mickey tells O’Hearn about the person of interest possibly being a cop. He thinks it could be someone impersonating a cop.


message 3: by OMalleycat (last edited Feb 03, 2020 02:01PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

OMalleycat | 1448 comments Gee not filling out the financial aid applications is a MacGuffin. I always filled mine out and had my mom sign. No problem. Maybe Mickey was fearful about college and this was a convenient roadblock. It would be awfully hard to break out of the bonds of her social class and family history. I do think it’s incredibly sad that she couldn’t talk (or even admit who she was) to Mrs. Powell years later. One of the few people she had a connection with.

Simon is already a villain for targeting Mickey when she was a child and he was in a caretaking position and knew her history and how vulnerable she was. Still, I’m suspicious that Moore is steering us in that direction, so I’m reserving judgment on his being the killer. But he’s definitely a child exploiter.

I totally don’t have what it would take to have an addict in the family. Kacey’s relapse after she was doing well just killed me and I was only reading about it. Poor Mickey (again!). Wait, maybe we’re being set up to think of Mickey as a victim when she’s the killer. I don’t remember a physical description of Mickey. Could she pass for a man? I’m only half kidding. It’s that point in the book where I suspect everyone—too much mystery, not enough resolution.

I do remember Paula described as Amazonian so it could be her and she’s deflecting by suggesting it’s a cop. There’s all that stuff about her hobbling around on crutches, with no explanation unless I missed it.

After a lot of build-up the story of Mickey “betraying” Truman and avoiding him seems kind of a nothing-burger. I wonder if there’s more revelations to come. I’m glad Mickey has him to help with tracking down Kacey. I’m very afraid Mickey is going to try some undercover investigating posing as a sex worker.

What do you make of Mickey half-recognizing the husband in the domestic abuse call. She mentioned him having very light eyes and Truman’s attacker had blue eyes. Could it be the same man? But the attacker went away for a long time, so it couldn’t really be him. Then who?

Again I’m disturbed by Mickey’s parenting. She adheres strictly to a sleep protocol when it’s clear Thomas is in distress. She even returns him to his own bed when he can’t wake up after calling “Daddy, daddy, daddy” while dreaming. I get that Mickey didn’t have a model of good parenting, but sheesh. No instincts at all, just what she’s learned from books about children’s sleep. And what a contrast to her own warm memories of lying in bed with her mom.

And it’s incredibly sad when she says “. . .even acknowledging my gratefulness for Thomas too frequently in my thoughts—seems to me to be a kind of jinx, an invitation, an open window through which some creature might come in the night and spirit him away.” It’s gutting to realize the amount of loss she and Kacey lived through so young.

I’m hoping Mrs. Mahon babysitting for Thomas will be a resounding success and provide some comfort and connection for all of them


message 4: by OMalleycat (last edited Feb 03, 2020 09:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

OMalleycat | 1448 comments OMalleycat wrote: "I’m very afraid Mickey is going to try some undercover investigating posing as a sex worker. "

I forgot to say that my other concern, perhaps more realistic than her going undercover, is that Mickey’s neglect of her job and (though relatively minor) flouting of procedures is going to be noticed. I think it would kill super-responsible Mickey to be called out or officially reprimanded for not doing her job right. In fact, now that I think of it I’m surprised she’s not self-flagellating over it.


Geri Mickey’s parenting and her vulnerability to Simon all leads back to her past, in my opinion. Gee tried but she wasn’t the warmest person. I think Mickey needed Gee to support her in attending university. But years of Gee’s tenseness and refusal to believe in Mickey probably eroded plenty of Mickey’s self esteem. That part was heartbreaking to me. Mickey was smart and responsible. But didn’t get much affirmation in her life. It had to be so easy for Simon to seduce Mickey, by paying attention to her and affirming her, under the guise of mentoring her.


message 6: by Ann (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14297 comments I-do-not-like-Simon-at-all.
He wouldn't have been interested in taking Thomas away from Mickey. He is an awful, manipulative creep.

Geri - true,, Mickey's past hasn't given her many good role models except for the rare teacher or two. So, Mickey doesn't have the best parenting skills, and her instincts while well-intentioned are off. I know Thomas isn't the first gifted child left with an inattentive babysitter, but it seems criminal to leave him with irresponsible Bethany.

I wonder if landlady Mrs. Mahon is as bad as Mickey thinks she is on giving parenting advice. Mickey is very prickly on the subject.

I agree, Jan -- Mrs. Mahon would be so good for Thomas. (And Mickey)


message 7: by OMalleycat (last edited Feb 04, 2020 11:00PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

OMalleycat | 1448 comments Geri wrote: "Mickey’s parenting and her vulnerability to Simon all leads back to her past, in my opinion. Gee tried but she wasn’t the warmest person.."

Geri wrote: "Mickey’s parenting and her vulnerability to Simon all leads back to her past, in my opinion. Gee tried but she wasn’t the warmest person."

I completely agree, Geri. I admire Moore’s creation of her characters whose psychology is totally recognizable yet not cliched. I think Mickey’s reliance on intellect vs. instinct or emotion also stems from that. She had lousy parents—maybe loving, but ultimately more interested in drugs than their kids. Then a REALLY lousy parent in Gee whose resentment, disinterest, and coldness were devastating especially when combined with her constant carping about Mickey’s mom and dad.

And Mickey so needed positive attention, or ANY attention, that she was completely open to whatever Simon was offering. There’s a point where adult Mickey thinks that she was the one who pursued Simon because she so craved his attention. I was yelling inside my head “YOU weren’t at fault, Mickey!” He was grooming her, slowly drawing her in until he had her right where he wanted her. It shocks me that as a professional caregiver he could be so exploitative.

I don’t know why it shocks me. Every year, right here in my state, there are a couple of cases of teachers or coaches exploiting kids. Year after year. But as a former teacher I find those people and fictional Simon deeply inexplicable and unsettling.

Geri also wrote: “ I think Mickey needed Gee to support her in attending university.

I agree. I so identified with Mickey on the issues of going to college. I was the first in the family to go. As a working class (at best) student and a “bad” kid in a very big high school I received no support to go to college. My family simply didn’t know anything. It was a struggle but at least my family didn’t actively undermine me.

I wonder what would have happened if Mrs. Powell had had time to talk to Mickey when she called. I think that single moment of support could have made all the difference.

With Mickey’s self-doubt, her feeling of responsibility for her sister, her natural anxiety and fears, she may not have had the singleness of focus, the “selfishness” it would have taken to leave home and follow her dream.

Then she ends up in a police force that’s an equally cold and unsupportive. I’m hoping that by the end of the book Mickey quits the police and goes to college.


OMalleycat | 1448 comments Ann wrote: "I know Thomas isn't the first gifted child left with an inattentive babysitter, but it seems criminal to leave him with irresponsible Bethany. ..."

Ann, I understand Mickey’s problem with her schedule—2 weeks days, 2 weeks nights—and finding childcare. But I started thinking Thomas would be better off in one of those chain, warehouse style daycares. At least he’d have other children to play with. And he didn’t like Bethany. Imagine spending your days, or nights, trapped alone with someone you dislike.


message 9: by Ann (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14297 comments Jan O'Cat: I suspect you are right, Mickey's self-doubt alone is all but crippling, leaving her isolated on the police force and second guessing herself at every turn. I think college without a support system would have been very difficult for her right out of high school.

Geri: I agree, Gee did try, but her intense urge to toughen up the girls really backfires. Their toughness makes them vulnerable.

OMalleycat wrote: "With Mickey’s self-doubt, her feeling of responsibility for her sister, her natural anxiety and fears, she may not have had the singleness of focus, the “selfishness” it would have taken to leave home and follow her dream.

Geri wrote: "Mickey’s parenting and her vulnerability to Simon all leads back to her past, in my opinion. Gee tried but she wasn’t the warmest person.."



OMalleycat | 1448 comments Ann wrote: ".. Gee did try, but her intense urge to toughen up the girls really backfires. Their toughness makes them vulnerable."

Gee tries to toughen the girls by criticizing them and their parents, depriving them physically and emotionally, and scaring them. It totally backfires. You’re right, their “toughness” leads them into situations they can’t cope with alone. And Mickey is chronically anxious while Kacey feels unloved. They’re poorly equipped for happiness or life.

I wondered if Gee was always this way or if her daughter’s death broke her. She seems to have had a good relationship with Lisa, the girls’ mother and Lisa, in Mickey’s memories, seems a happy and lighthearted young woman. But then there’s the issue of her drug use.


message 11: by Ann (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14297 comments Jan O'Cat: I've been trying to figure Gee out. There are gaps we can't know about her past - I think surely she must have had more bad experiences leading her to wall herself off from all others but agree her daughter's death seems to have irrevocably broken her.
We also don't know how traumatic the drug abuse was, though the glimpses we get from Mickey's "then" flashbacks paint a very depressing picture. I still don't get why she pushes Mickey away.

OMalleycat wrote: "I wondered if Gee was always this way or if her daughter’s death broke her.
She seems to have had a good relationship with Lisa, the girls’ mother and Lisa, in Mickey’s memories, seems a happy and lighthearted young woman. But then there’s the issue of her drug use."



OMalleycat | 1448 comments Ann wrote: "I've been trying to figure Gee out. There are gaps we can't know about her past - I think surely she must have had more bad experiences leading her to wall herself off from all others"

Ann, I think the family, going back to Gee’s generation and perhaps beyond, was troubled in some way we don’t know about. Mickey’s cousin Bobby has had drug problems and I think there are hints others do as well. Even the good cousin, Ashley, finds it remarkably easy to lie to Mickey—big lies, not the usual familial stuff. They’re all practiced at being secretive. And although much of the family lives fairly close they seem to be in only intermittent contact. There’s a lot unspoken in the family which leads me to think there’s been a lot of trauma.

I also wonder if Mickey, in her self-containedness, hyperresponsibility, and seeming competence somehow intimidated Gee.

As for pushing Mickey away, Gee frequently says, “I won’t go through that again,” meaning Lisa’s drug use and death. That pertains more to Kacey than Mickey but I wonder if more deeply she means going through the pain of loving a child, investing in her, and losing her.

I don’t really like entertaining any sympathy for Gee, but I’ll reluctantly offer this: as a teacher in a high poverty school I’ve known lots of grandparents raising their grandkids. It’s not easy, just on the barest level of being older without as much energy as the children’s parents.

Pretty much by definition the grandparents’ (adult) children have had big problems that caused them to desert the kids. So the grandparents have lived through that as have the kids, which generally, like Mickey and Kacey, makes them not easy kids. Plus, in a lifetime of poverty, the grandparents have finally reached a place where they had a right to expect a little ease and instead they’re back to trying to afford new shoes or find adequate childcare.

I don’t know where Moore got her research but she hit practically all points right on the nose. The grandparents I’ve known haven’t been as casually cruel as Gee, but given a particular personality and circumstances they might be. Plus, it’s unlikely Gee or grandparents like her show up to school enough for teachers to get to know them so I’ve only known the better ones.


Barbara K | 414 comments OMalleycat wrote: "It’s not easy, just on the barest level of being older without as much energy as the children’s parents.
..."


I found myself thinking about this, and Gee, the other day. I don't mean to draw any kind of direct comparison of the dimensions of the challenges, because they are certainly not the same. BUT the other day, as I was crawling into a very small space to extract something from the mouth of our new puppy before she swallowed it, I was struck by how much more energy and flexibility I had for this 20, or 15 or 10 or even 5 years ago. Gee was much younger when she had to assume responsibility for the girls than I am now, but she was coping with the loss of her daughter, they were children, not pets, and one was in withdrawal. It had to have been hard.


message 14: by Ann (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14297 comments Barbara and Jan
I think the enormity of Gee’s brokenness was likely related to the horror of dealing with Kasey’s inherited addiction at birth. I am willing to try to understand Gee’s reaction but identify more with Mickey’s. Neither of them emerged unscathed from the experience.
The bits and pieces style of delivery Liz Moore employed as she wrote fed us small does where Gee ( and Mickey) had the full force.
For me, learning first that Thomas was Kasey’s and had been taken away from her after being born addicted and adopted; and then that Kasey had also been born addicted is a game changer in understanding either of them.


message 15: by Ann (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14297 comments Jan O’Cat:
That’s is a thought (perhaps child Mickey reminded Gee of her own child Lisa so she pulled away and walled herself off from future hurt) and adult Mickey with her own high walls hiding a frightened but determined child) could intimidate Gee.

OMalleycat wrote: "also wonder if Mickey, in her self-containedness, hyperresponsibility, and seeming competence somehow intimidated Gee.

As for pushing Mickey away, Gee frequently says, “I won’t go through that again,” meaning Lisa’s drug use and death. That pertains more to Kacey than Mickey but I wonder if more deeply she means going through the pain of loving a child, investing in her, and losing her.

"
..."



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