If you are still waiting for the book to arrive,
don't read this post until later.
This was a very hard section to read, and I have several areas for our discussion.
1. Travis ~ The battery in his talking toy is already starting to lose strength. This is a biggie, so don't fail to notice it. Cerise noticed the toy, but did not question why the battery was running down so quickly.
It sounded a little slow, the voice wearier than it had been the day before. Even though Travis would probably have another tantrum, Cerise hoped that meant the battery Melody had got for it was finally wearing out. She hated that toy. (p. 150)2. Melody ~ Melody burned herself on "the red spiral of the element" (pp. 133-134), just as Cerise had burned herself "against the hot edge of the iron" (pp. 21-22), leaving "stripes on Cerise's wrists [that]turned to scabs" (p. 30). Why do people do things like this? A young woman told me once that cutting herself was less painful than her life, but I don't understand that thinking at all.
3. NICU ~ When Ellen was born (pp. 137-146), she was rushed to NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Have you ever been in an NICU? Tell us about it.
4. Respirator ~ One of my granddaughters (not the one I mentioned last week) was in the NICU for the first days of her life and then was on a respirator, like Ellen. If you have experienced anything like this, please share.
The first three days of Ellen's life, the alarm on her respirator rang so many times that Anna got almost used to the sickening flush of terror that swept over her each time it sounded. (p. 153)5. Cerise ~ After the fire in the trailer (pp. 157-160), Travis suffered "respiratory insufficiency" (p. 164) before he died (p. 171). That's hell in itself for a mother, but can you put yourself in Cerise's shoes enough to understand what she did after that?
Someone was speaking from the doorway. It was the young nurse ... Timidly she said, "We've called Travis's father, Ms. Johnson. And sent for the social worker and the chaplain. They'll be here any minute to talk to you. Is there anything -- should I stay with you until they come?"6. Homeless ~ What would it be like to know, suddenly, that you were quite literally homeless? What would you do?
Savagely Cerise shook her head. She didn't want the nurse to stay with her, didn't want to have to see Jake or the chaplain or the social worker, didn't want to have to do any of the things words were used to do -- explain, defend, excuse, or soothe. She wanted to be as alone in the room as she was in her anguish, wanted only to scream and howl and moan. But the nurse's question had diminished her to silence. ...
She bent to kiss him [Travis], but the thought came that she was kissing him good-bye, and her body convulsed, propelling her back from that abyss. She turned and stumbled from the room ... (p. 172).
It was not until she stood on the street that she realized she had nowhere to go. ... She began to walk ... (p. 173).