Kate, my middle child, is in my one and only 8th grade language arts class this year. She'll have me again next year as a 9th grader, lucky child! :) Right now we're doing literature circles in class. The class is split into seven groups of five students. Each group reads a different novel. They meet regularly to discuss the novel with each other. It's kind of a like a book club, but with written assignments and teaching responsibilities for each meeting.
Kate's group in reading the novel Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech. I recently discovered this book, and it is one of my favorites. The thing I especially appreciate about this novel is that the foreshadowing is subtle enough that the ending comes as a surprise. This doesn't typically happen for me. I consider myself skilled at deciphering foreshadowing, so I generally know well in advance what will happen at the end of the book or movie. I've even written about my skill here on my blog.
So when Kate guessed the ending after reading a mere 20 pages, I was floored.
If you are interested in reading Walk Two Moons, you should stop reading this entry immediately. I am about to give away an important piece of information that could ruin the ending of the book for you.
The main character of the novel is named Sal. Sal and her dad have moved to a different city because Sal's mother has left them. The novel follows Sal through her healing process as she deals with the absence of her mom and all that it means to her.
Sal's paternal grandparents decide to take Sal to the small town in Idaho where her mother went so they can visit her. Sal has a secret hope that she can bring her mother back home. The book goes back and forth between the road trip to Idaho and Sal's experiences making friends in the new town.
In the end, we find out Sal's mother had died in a bus accident before she even made it to the small Idaho town to visit her cousin. Because Sal doesn't accept the fact that her mother has died until she sees the evidence of the mangled bus at the bottom of a ravine, and because it is written from her perspective, the first moment Sal realizes her mother has died is the first moment the reader understands what has happened.
Unless the reader is Kate.
After she read the first twenty pages, she said to me, "So . . . Sal's mom is dead, right?"
Wow! How did she know that when I didn't even get it? I asked her.
"Well, Sal's dad isn't mad at her mom. And her grandparents aren't mad at her. So she has to be dead, right?"
Wow. That never even occurred to me. So why was it the obvious conclusion for Kate? Not only the obvious conclusion--it was her only conclusion.
She can't imagine a scenario wherein a mom could leave and the dad and his parents wouldn't be mad at her.
I don't regret my own choices. I believe I did the right thing when I decided to end my previous marriage. I've done my best to avoid burdening my children with details of why or what happened or whose fault it was. I don't say bad things or act mad about the devastation the bad marriage had in my own life. But no matter how hard I've tried to keep things positive on my end of the stick, the other end is obviously smoldering with anger and hatred--at least from my children's point of view.
It makes me so sad for them.