MCMLS Mitchell Fiction Book Club discussion

Ask Again, Yes > And Now, For Something Completely Different…

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message 1: by Librarian Molly (last edited Aug 26, 2020 08:05AM) (new)

Librarian Molly | 219 comments Mod
From the lyrical storytelling of our last book to the gritty reality of this one…these stories could not be more different. I found myself judging Ask Again, Yes by Once Upon a River, which is unfair, of course. What were YOUR initial impressions of this selection?

message 2: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Bonito | 23 comments I feel that this book is unrealistic. A trained police professional would never ignore the psychotic behavior of a mentally ill family member over a long period of time. The community also ignored her bizarre behavior. Her husband left his child with his mentally ill wife and moved to another state
for years, and the girl whose father was shot in the face by the deranged woman then marries the son of the shooter. Too much soap opera.

message 3: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Ostis | 290 comments A lot to accept here, for sure. We’re asked to acknowledge that families often choose to hide or ignore or at the very least gloss over and refuse to deal with some horrific problems, be they mental illness, alcoholism, domestic abuse, etc. There was frustration in the middle chapters, when years passed with everyone living in almost suspended animation, just marking time, but I suppose that amount of time needed to pass in order to have the acceptance and reconciliations take place? Stylistically, the realistic, descriptive details hit one in the face, sometimes. One can feel what it was like living in a corner of a tiny urban apartment, with a pull-out sofa bed and no space to call one’s own. Or the description of the going berserk scene at the dinner table, a wildly swinging vacuum cleaner having been used to knock the dishes and food onto the floor, while onlookers & broken plates & dripping food all just sit there for a while, as if nothing has happened or needs immediate fixing or attention. A metaphor for the entire story? Gritty, indeed!

message 4: by Kent (new)

Kent  R (kentr33d) | 119 comments I see there are a lot of things that happen that shouldn't and hopefully we will have gone past this.... things like domestic abuse, ignoring the mentally ill and the like. have we cure the common cold; whereas, where no one will ever get it nor have to take flu shots? We are doing a whole lot better then we were a generation ago. Try to understand ourselves and become part of the change and not much things continued ignorance or ignoring the issues there in front of us.

message 5: by Maxine (new)

Maxine | 176 comments Here are two families bound by a terrible tragedy and love. The book looks at important issues: alcoholism, mental health,
The bonds of friendship and lastly redemption. There were times I found the story line a little unrealistic , but it did keep my interest and I wanted to see how it all played out.

message 6: by Kent (new)

Kent  R (kentr33d) | 119 comments Well, I haven't had a chance to read the book. What exactly do y'all find unrealistic?

message 7: by Sue (new)

Sue Green While the overall plot is a bit far-fetched, the realism in individual moments is striking. Walking on eggshells around a person or enabling the behavior can become a way of life, while not even realizing that it is dysfunctional. I think it's a shame that the book didn't address coping skills for the whole family instead of focusing on individuals as the person with the problem. Sadly, there is no true cure here even though the book ends at a positive point.

message 8: by Michele (new)

Michele (mlbose) | 160 comments I’ve just started this one. Looking forward to the discussion

message 9: by Lorraine (new)

Lorraine Dickie | 100 comments Well, I finished this book only an hour or so ago, and after sitting and shaking my head for a while, tried to decide if I liked it or not. It’s certainly not an uplifting story, and not a book I would recommend to others as I did the last two we read. It felt to me as though there was this huge pot (or cauldron) as some would call it, and the author dropped a bunch of things in it like Francis getting shot in the face by Anne, Anne’s mental instability, Francis’ affair, Brian abandoning Peter and his alcoholism, Peter’s becoming a cop (which made absolutely no sense to me), Peter’s alcoholism, rehab and falling off the wagon, Lena’s cancer. Enough! I still haven’t decided if I liked it.

message 10: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 74 comments I didn't dislike the book but I did not feel I learned any lessons from this story; I consider it a book that could be picked up and put down multiple times while on a beach vacation, and if the pages got stuck together with sand and sea water, no problem, the story could quickly be caught back up! And some of the incidences were not believable, for instance, would a trained cop like Francis not have handled the situation better than going to the house next door? Was it really necessary for Brian to abandon Peter? Seems like a lot of men in this book were flawed characters.

message 11: by Retta (new)

Retta Brandon | 179 comments Perhaps Mary Beth Keane's story was to provoke our emotions or thoughts on how mental illness is never quite dealt with the same rigor of other diagnosis and make us more knowledgeable of a much needed social platform of improving evaluation, treatment, and support of the patient and their families. I have dealt through the years in public education and a private psychiatric treatment center for children and adolescents, and I have found the family backgrounds and educational levels can be quite varied and difficult to understand the impact when one or more family members have psychiatric problems. The family members do struggle and often the healthy children as in Peter somehow are survivor's but with residual problems linked to the dysfunctional family constellation.
I am not finished but I find this is a sober and troubling story to read.

message 12: by Betty (new)

Betty Casey | 78 comments This author sure hit on several personal problems within the two families which were never truly resolved and how all the family members seemed to be affected. To me it seemed that the root of the entire story was the fact that Anne was never helped after she was molested as a child. Seems all the other problems, both physically and mentally for each character, stemmed from Anne’s mental illness and lack of diagnosis and care. It’s unfortunate that mental health was kept secret and not considered an illness and treated until a few years ago.
The book was reviewed by my other book club and I felt that it was not their favorite read but it was interesting to hear everyone’s views. I definitely wanted to keep reading to find out the ending. I did like the end of the story when the title was explained.

message 13: by Librarian Molly (last edited Sep 01, 2020 08:18AM) (new)

Librarian Molly | 219 comments Mod
I have to agree with Betty's other book club. Admittedly, I didn't love this book, BUT I do think there will be some great discussion around some of its themes. I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks.

message 14: by Renee (new)

Renee | 76 comments I think I would have liked this book more, if it had not so much going on. I really liked Lorraine's comment, enough. I think if we had read this one first then once upon a river, I would have like it even more.

message 15: by Michele (new)

Michele (mlbose) | 160 comments Just finished this book and I guess I’m in the minority because I liked it, lol. While it’s not the best book I’ve read, it has its merits. I felt it dealt with tough subjects in a sensitive, reflective way. I know many have said they find it unrealistic but (with the exception of Peter and Kate leaving their children alone with Anne) I can see how everything would have played out the way the author describes. And I personally don’t feel it’s that far fetched that one group of people would go through so much tragedy (child abuse and molestation, mental illness, alcoholism, infidelity, cancer). With the exception of surviving a gun shot wound, I can look at my own family and think of at least one person that has suffered through one of these tragedies.

It was interesting to read everyone’s thoughts on this book. I love that everyone takes away something different.

message 16: by Dana (new)

Dana Sexton | 8 comments I liked reading this after Once Upon A River, as they were such wildly different novels. I didn’t even try to compare the two! I felt that the author had a great story line - two neighbors, what goes on behind closed doors, how their lives converge and then diverge. I liked the novel, in an indifferent sort of way. As noted by others, the middle was definitely a placeholder between action.

message 17: by Kerry (new)

Kerry Jackson | 51 comments I thought the book was very depressing. A lot of tragedy and repeating some of the same mistakes. I guess the author was showing that through forgiveness people can heal.

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