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All My Puny Sorrows > Question #5: Finding the Light

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 26, 2015 07:32AM) (new)

Yoli and Elf’s mom, when talking about reading novels about sad women, says “Okay, she’s sad!” she exclaims. “We get it, we know what sad is, and then the whole book is basically a description of the million and one ways in which our protagonist is sad. Gimme a break! Get on with it!”

As All My Puny Sorrows is about women who experience a lot of pain, grief, depression, and sadness, how did you react to Yoli’s mother’s complaint? Were you able to find the light in All My Puny Sorrows, or did you find yourself getting bogged down in the sadness?


message 2: by Emily (new)

Emily Stillwell | 10 comments I definitely found the light in All My Puny Sorrows. Yes, the novel is about women who experience a lot of pain, and sadness, but I think the author so beautifully explores these emotions, that the sheer humanity of her characters is breathtaking. Sometimes you felt like her words were a delicate silk scarf brushing against your skin, and other times it felt like steel wool being dragged across your heart, leaving you feeling such empathy for the characters.

I understand her mother's complaint - but this book is not far-fetched. It is not unrealistic. People experience this kind of pain, grief, depression, and sadness. It surrounds us. But there is always light, even at our darkest.


message 3: by Susan (last edited Jan 28, 2015 11:31AM) (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
I loved that quotation from the book: so funny and a bit ironic given this book's subject matter. It is so typical of Toew's style. She injects a bit of humour just when we need it. I did not find myself at all bogged down by sadness. Of course I felt sad many times, but mostly I felt amazed about how Toews expressed whatever happened. Moments of humour, despair, confusion, joy, love, appreciation for life - this book has it all.


message 4: by Allison (new)

Allison | 396 comments I loved Yoli's mom! Her upbeat personality was her own coping mechanism to carry on living despite the grief that would surely have engulfed her if she allowed it. Her get-on-with-living attitude is inspiring. Didn't she also have a stock answer for anything directed her way following Elf's death (or was it her sister's?)? She kept exclaiming something like Ain't that the truth! I found this little character detail so touching: both funny (a source of some comic relief) but also a clear indicator of her pain (and so it was an unbearably sad moment when I read this part). It choked me up.

However, I did not get bogged down in the sadness of this book. Quite the contrary. Someone in a previous thread mentioned how life-affirming AMPS is, and I couldn't agree more. Besides, I typically love any book that can break me down to tears. :)


message 5: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Allison wrote: "I loved Yoli's mom! Her upbeat personality was her own coping mechanism to carry on living despite the grief that would surely have engulfed her if she allowed it. Her get-on-with-living attitude ..."
I loved that chapter with "Ain't that the truth" references, Allison. It amazed me how fitting that response was to so many situations. For me the most touching thing with Yoli's mom happened when Yoli said near the end of the book •spoiler: (view spoiler) Well, I had to stop reading and collect myself for a few moments before I could continue reading. So simply stated, but so powerful.


message 6: by Kate (new)

Kate (arwen_kenobi) | 100 comments Mod
I didn't get bogged down at all. There were moments that were incredibly sad to be sure but all those previously mentioned moments of humour (especially with the sisters themselves) helped liven things up. A lot of it actually reminded me of how my family deals with strife and grief (we're more likely to insult you before going into surgery than hug you sometimes but it definitely means that we love you and we're worried though).

Yoli's mom was also awesome. The last bit of the book with Yoli and her Mom was probably my favourite part of the book. The quote that Susan mentioned also was a big hitter for me.


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