Saturday, January 23, 2010

Barney's Online Book Club -- January 2010 Discussion

Welcome to the fifth discussion post of Barney's Online Book Club. This month we are discussing The House on Tradd Street by Karen White. Below are some questions to start the discussion but feel free to raise your own in the comments section. Please note that the questions and comments may include spoilers -- so read at your own risk!

Let the discussion begin!

1. How much do you think Melanie's upbringing played in creating the person she becomes?

2. How did you feel about Melanie's relationship with her parents? Melanie begrudgingly gives her father a second chance, but refuses to do the same thing for her mother. Do you feel this was fair?

3. Melanie and her best friend are complete opposites. Do you think that their opposite personalities attracted them to each other?

4. In the beginning, Melanie hates old houses. Was her transformation into a home owner realistic? What was the role of the ghosts in helping her love her new home?

5. What was your overall impression of the book? Will you read the sequel?


Jess said...

I will start us off! Let me first say thanks to everyone who participated in the vote.

1. I think that Melanie's upbringing has everything to do with who she is. Her dad being a miltary man gave her organization skills and personal morals. Her parent's separation and the secrets around it made her unable to trust others. She seems to always look at the negetive side of things until her transformation at the end of the book. I think all the knowledge of what she thinks happened in her childhood also contributes to this emotional weigh that she carries around.

What did everyone else think?

Susie Sharp Librarian said...

I did vote for this book but I must say I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.
Melanie was not a likable character for me I felt like I should like her but didn't.
Also I wondered what kind of fetish/obsession the author has with old man's shoulders, she used it as a metaphor many times while talking about the house and then she describes her father's shoulders softer and rounder like that of an old man.
I felt this book was a bit predictable I knew exactly where
the bodies were hidden so to speak long before anyone in the book even came close to it and to me it seemed so obvious.
I did like the other characters in this book including Sophia I do think she has kind of taken Melanie under her wing to try to bring her out of her somewhat obsessive compulsive shell.
I thought that her coming around about the house had more to do with the people helping her than the ghosts.
Overall this book just didn't do it for me and I won't be running out to get the next one.

Jess said...

Susie --

I agree with all of your points. To me, this book was just okay. I wasn't really wowed by the characters or plot. Mostly likely I will not pick up the next in the series.

Thanks so much for participating!

Jo said...

This is SUPER late, but I figured why not? Now if only I can remember as I try to answer the questions.

1. I agree that Melanie's upbringing has definitely influenced who she has become. She's defensive, holds grudges, a bit stubborn...all because of her upbringing, and, to an extent (imo) understandable.

2. I'm having trouble remembering the exact situation between Melanie and her father but...she's rather slow about forgiving him too, is she not? I'm thinking she'll probably end up forgiving her mother in The Girl on Lagare Street. Fair? Maybe not. ::shrugs::

3. Tough question. I believe people can't be complete opposites and be friends. They have to have something in common. A shared value or something. I wish I'd known about this discussion when I read/reviewed the book (1/24). I think I would have been able to give some specific example. But, anyway. I do think the opposing personalities may have had something to do with their friendship. Sometimes it's easier to be friends w/ someone whose qualities you admire (imo) but don't have. Makes for some balance.

4. I think, while it could have worked out either way, it wasn't unrealistic. And Melanie was predisposed to like old houses (whether she wanted to or not) from childhood. The ghosts showed her a sense of (positive) history, (good) memories, love, and permanence. But I can see Susie's point about others helping as well.

5. I had some issues with the book, but they were relatively minor. Mostly it was a little slow getting into. I will read the sequel (unless I despise a book, if it has a sequel, I'm likely to read it). Soon, bc it's overdue and can't be renewed (someone else has requested it).