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Group Reads & Discussion > Long Bright River

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message 1: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments Here is our thread to discuss Long Bright River by Liz Moore, our September read.
Long Bright River

I apologize for not getting this selection voted on and posted sooner. This is a very busy time of year for me. I am drowning. And, I am a mod in another group, so I never intended to be the primary organizer when I suggested that we revive group reads here. So, please be patient with me.

message 2: by Vivienne (new)

Vivienne Seatter | 76 comments Don't apologize! Thank you for organizing everything and keeping us right.
I look forward to starting the book.
Enjoy the weekend everyone

message 3: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments Irene I admire what you are doing. This was one of my first groups. I missed it. I love that you are breathing new life into it.

message 4: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments Has anyone started this book?
If anyone has not been part of a group read at Chicks on Lit this year, our format is very casual. We read at our pace. As we read, we post, careful about spoilers until we know if everyone has reached that point. Anyone can add a question or thought.

I was able to download it, so I started last evening. The writing is easy, but the amount of background info is making for a slow start. However, it is giving us a good feel for the primary characters. I read about 15%.

message 5: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments I am a bit more than a third into the book. Some dramatic tension has been introduced, but it is far from nail biting. I think the constant returning to the back story is deluding any tension. I like the narrator and I am finding the story telling easy to read, so the lack of tension is not bothering me, but I am not anxious to read either.

I am going to put this down until I see others posting. I don't want to get too far ahead. It is not like I have nothing to read. LOL.

message 6: by Vivienne (new)

Vivienne Seatter | 76 comments I finished the book but will not reveal anything. I found it well written and very easy to read. I was interested in the story and I wanted to find out, not only about the present day murders, but the back family story of the main character. This kept me interested and why I found it easy and quick to read. However, it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. It had such amazing reviews , describing it as such a powerful novel. I didn't find it powerful.
I think going so much into the past took away from the present day murders and I didn't feel that story was covered in much depth or was given deep enough coverage.
There were a couple of twists that I kind of guessed and I never see things coming.

message 7: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments OK, if at least one of us is reading the book, maybe I should pick it back up again.
Interesting, Vivienne, that you mention the murders in your post. They were mentioned early on, but have completely fallen off the page that I did not think they were significant except to increase the narrator's concern for her sister. Unlike you, I am not all that interested in the family story. I want the present day missing person story to speed up and become the focus.

message 8: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments Finished this yesterday. It did not wow me. I wonder if glowing reviews raises my expectations too much so that I fail to appreciate the novel as much as if I were going into it without expectations.
I thought the author tried to make this about too much and it lost any taughtness. Nothing became the real focus. I think she could have created the family dynamics without all the childhood stories. We are told almost nothing about the childhood interactions between the narrator and her cousins Ashley and Billy. But, I had no problem believing they would respond as they did. In the same way, I don't think I needed a detailed account of a class trip or other events to believe and be invested in the concern between the sisters. I also could have done with much less trivia about Philadelphia. At times, I felt like I was listening to a tour guide. Thought the ending wrapped up too nicely. All in all, a mediocre book, not bad but not great.

Is anyone else planning to read this book? I will hold off on opening up the discussion if others are still planning to read it. I know others voted for it. And, I understand if you are still waiting to get it from the library. If you have a moment, post here to let us know if you are planning to read or have started or will be passing on this book.

message 9: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments I have had a crazy week I have not had any reading time at all. It was all good things but very time consumining. I will start the book today.

message 10: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments No problem and no pressure. Enjoy the book and don't push through. Just trying to see if people are still planning to read or if Vivienne and I should discuss.

message 11: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments This month has been strange. I don't have kids. But I have a niece who is like a daughter to me. He children's school are meeting remotely.

I have had the two oldest here for classes. It is easier for them to work on my computer then their tablet. I help them with some of their questions. It takes away from my reading time.

I really enjoy having them here. I feel bad for their mom. She has 4 kids all doing the remote classes. She is working from home. Her Husband has to go into work. Its rough.

message 12: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments Your niece is lucky to have your support. And I am sure that the kids appreciate your help also. Read at your convenience. Feel free to comment as you go along.

message 13: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments Renee, were you able to start the book this week? Any initial thoughts? If you started, let us know how far you have read and we can discuss to that point. If not, no worries.

message 14: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments Irene I am so sorry I came down with a bug. Between not feeling well and the kids I have read nothing. The kids have left for the day. Its quiet and dinner is cooking it self in the crock pot. I am off to read.

message 15: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments Never apologize about not being able to read. Reading is our pleasure, our way of winding down. It should never be a source of guilt or pressure. I am glad you are feeling better. Post when you feel like it and Vivienne and I will discuss up to where you have read.

message 16: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments Thank you Irene. I got a good start on the book. It has caught my interest. I like the idea of the two sisters. One living a cops life. One living an addicts life. It gives a nice contrast.

I am hoping we get incite into what made the sisters choose the path they went down.

message 17: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments Vivienne, if you are still interested in a discussion, we can start a limited discussion, being careful of spoilers. Renee has begun the book and no one else has posted that they are reading.

We have several story lines going on in this book: the relationship between the sisters, the family story that brought these women to this point in life, the apparent serial killer on the loose, a missing person. Were you interested in one story more than another? Did these multiple stories work together to entangle you in the narrative or did they form a net that dragged the story down?

Were you initially drawn into the story or did it take time to interest you? If it started slow for you, did you become more invested over time? Was there a moment in the story that grabbed you?

message 18: by Vivienne (new)

Vivienne Seatter | 76 comments Yes Irene absolutely, I’m interested. I will post a comment tomorrow in response to the questions you posed.

message 19: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments I am enjoying the multiple story lines. I think the one that intereste me most is the two sisters. The part that resonates with me is that although the relationship is strained you can still sense the love.

message 20: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments I thought the extensive family history de-escolated the missing person story. I was surprised that the murders came back into the story at the end because they felt almost irrelevant through so much of the book.

message 21: by Vivienne (new)

Vivienne Seatter | 76 comments I was first attracted to the potential serial killer/missing girls story line so I was quickly disappointed when it was only touched on very lightly and at a surface level and then virtually disappeared for a while.
I did want to know about the sisters past and what happened but I thought the two stories were going to be much more connected and relevant to one another.
I felt like there were too many issues being touched on so nothing was covered in any real depth. It came across as quite shallow considering much of the subject matter. I think because of this ultimately I didn't have a real interest in the outcome for either of the sisters. The story didn't really make me care deeply about them.

message 22: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments Here are some discussion questions for this book. Feel free to pick one or two to comment on.

1. The author sets Long Bright River against one city’s experience of the opioid epidemic, informed by her own research. To what degree do you think the
drug crisis in Kensington represents the situation in other regions of the United States? Did reading the plight of Kacey, and its impact on her sister
and larger family, make you think about the epidemic any differently? How did the portrayal in the book compare with your understanding of the problem
from news, or from your personal life?

2. In this novel, the author combines a crime story with a family drama, as she moves back and forth between present and past, and sets it all against
a real and researched city and culture. Which elements moved or compelled you most? Did knowing it was influenced by real life make it more or less powerful
for you?

3. While Kacey and Mickey grew up in the same house, they followed vastly diverging paths in adolescence. In what ways were the girls different by nature?
Or was it a matter of nurture? Which differences do you think most influenced their fates, and why? What impact did these differences have on their relationship
as children, and as adults? What do you think the author is ultimately saying about the connection between family and fate?

4. The author explores the pressures that are put on single parents, juggling child care and an unpredictable work schedule. Did Mickey’s life make you
see this in a new way? How did you feel about the ways she manages this juggling? What about the ways she manages her child’s relationship with his father?
Do you think such pressures would be different for a man?

5. The vividly drawn neighborhood of Kensington plays a crucial role in the book, becoming almost a character itself, with its own history. How does the
author’s portrayal of Kensington contribute to the larger story? Consider the different characters’ feelings about this place, its role in their personal
lives, histories, and struggles.

6. Mickey’s Philadelphia is a melting pot of haves and have-nots. What do we learn about class and privilege, and the way they are manifested in the lives
of the characters? Consider in particular the times when social tensions emerge as a result of class. Do any of the characters demonstrate class mobility
or the ability to socialize across these carefully-drawn lines?

7. How does Mickey’s outlook on justice and the methods and culture of the police department compare with that of her superiors and partners? How do these
outlooks compare with your own observations and opinions? In this time of heightened tensions between civilians and police, what do you think about the
larger relationship between the police and the community as seen in Long Bright River? Do you think it’s an authentic portrayal?

8. The author explores the concept of addiction in multiple ways in this story. Beyond the obvious heroin addiction, what other kinds of compulsion do
you see? For instance, addiction to work, to the chase, to power, to a certain kind of sex or love or support? What role do these other forms of compulsion
play in the story? In what ways is the author interested not just in the effects addiction has on the person suffering from it, but also in the effects
on that person’s family and friends and, ultimately, community? Which scenes or relationships show this most powerfully?

9. Over the course of her life, Mickey has had many mentors, including Officer Cleare, Mrs. Powell, and even Truman. What impact does each relationship
have on the development of Mickey’s character? In what ways do these mentorships dictate her future decisions?

10. Do you think Mickey’s life and profession would have turned out differently if she had been able to go to college as she initially hoped? Would such
an education have changed her fate? Why or why not? If not, what would have changed her fate? Or did she end up in the best place for herself, regardless?

11. After their mother, Lisa, dies, Mickey and Kacey are left to live with their grandmother Gee, but Mickey begins to play the role of a pseudo-mother
to Kacey. Analyze the mother-daughter relationships presented in the novel: Gee to Lisa; Lisa to Mickey; Gee to Mickey and Kacey; Mickey to Kacey; Mickey
to Thomas. How are these parenting styles different, and in what ways are they similar? 

12. What is the novel saying about the development of community and the importance of neighbors? Consider the role of Mrs. Mahon in the story, and of the
informal network of relationships that Mickey and Truman have with shopkeepers and others on the Avenue. What different types of communities are portrayed
in the book?

13. The author launches several mysteries in the course of the story. The biggest and most obvious are established early on: Who is killing young women
in the neighborhood, and what has happened to Kacey? Were you surprised by the resolutions of these questions in the end? Were you more surprised by the
information that is revealed, or by the way in which emerged Did you have competing suspicions or theories?

14. There are also several smaller mysteries or questions propelling the storytelling, such as what is going on with Truman, or with Gee, or with Mickey’s
other relatives, or what happened in Mickey’s past to bring her and her child to this new apartment. Some of these are mysteries only to the reader, as
certain information is slowly released by the narrative; and some of these are mysteries to Mickey as well. Which unknowns compelled you most, and why?
Which surprised you most? Did you see any of the revelations coming, and if so, when and why? 

message 23: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments I find it interesting that we each focused on a different aspect of the book. I focused on the sisters. Irene focused on the missing person. Vivienne focused on the serial killer story line.

I am particularly fascinated by how the sisters wound up so different. I really like all the family stuff because it is filling in the picture of what made the sisters the way they are.

I think if i was interested in the other stories I would not be enjoying the book as much as I am.

I wonder if the author took on too much. Maybe if she had left out some details if it would have worked for more people.

message 24: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments Renee, that was my gut reaction to the novel, it had too many story lines. If this were some thousand page Russian volume, all these lines could have been developed. But it felt like too much for me. Even the allogations of police curruption got crowded in as another theme.
One of the questions from the publisher asked about using the Philadelphia neighborhood as another character. I can't say that it felt like a character to me. Instead, I felt as if I was being given snippets from a travel guide. It did not add to my appreciation of the story.

message 25: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments I haven't really focused on the setting. I will keep that in mind as I continue reading. I think an author has to be very skilled for me to fins settings as a char in a story. I tend to view settings as props.

message 26: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments Renee, Have you finished the book? I was going to ask about the ending, but don't want to post any spoilers for you.

message 27: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments I am still working on it. My reading time is so limited right now. That combined with not feeling good has slowed me down. If you want to post with spoiler tags?

I keep doubling back to the time when the class took a trip to the Nutcracker Ballet. It really showed the contrast between their life and the well off kids. It also showed how different the sisters were.

One tried to fit in. The other wanted to fight. I think the author is doing a good job showing us who these girls are.

message 28: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments No problem. We can hold off on discussing the ending. I agree, the back story is sufficiently full to give us a good picture of each sister.

message 29: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments Spoiler Warning!
If you have not finished, you may not want to read beyond this point.
But, we are hitting the half way point of October, so I am hoping it is safe to open this up to a full discussion before we all forget what we read.

So, what did you think of the ending? Was it too neatly wrapped up or was it a good satisfying close? Were you surprised by the relationship to Thomas? How about the identity of the killer? Did you guess that part of the mystery? Why do you think a corrupt police force culture was added to the mix? Would you recommend this book to someone? Would you seek out another book by the author?

message 30: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments I was really surprised by the ending. I did not guess the killer. I honestly cannot say why the corrupt police culture was added.

I did like the book. I enjoy a book that surprises me. I did find the book little busy. I will read more by this author.

message 31: by Irene (new)

Irene | 4083 comments I think I was disappointed when it was revealed that Thomas was Casey's son. I felt as if the author was playing games with me instead of just a natural reveal. It would not have changed anything in the way I saw their bond or her care for him. So I did not know why it was made into a secret.

I also did not guess the killer. But, I am not sure I was actually trying to guess who it was because it did not seem to be the focus.

I thought the reconciliation with the father was a bit too Hollywood-ish. It was just one more improbable thread that seemed thrown in.

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