JEN: What do you think of how Fern feels about Charlie as a younger brother? I was five when my little sister was born. I remember being so excited to have a little sister to play with and then when she came...she just slept in her bassinet. She wasn't the friend to play with that I imagined a little sister would be.
COLBY: I’m the oldest of 7 children. I’ve spent my whole life being annoyed by younger siblings. That probably sounds awful, but growing up as a “momma’s boy” I always felt a little threatened by new, younger, and cuter kids coming into the house.
JEN: I can’t imagine being the oldest of seven kids. When I think about my two sons, I can see how my older son helps a lot with my younger son. Lately, he really helps by holding his hand and taking him to look at something or by protecting him from doing something he shouldn’t if he sees he is going to do something and I am in a different room. They are starting to have some sibling rivalry but I can see how much kids would help out with younger siblings born. What was it like for you in your family every time your parents had another baby?
COLBY: It sucked. When I was six I thought it was cool when my brother was born. Three days later I had had enough. My mom always wanted me to do stuff like walk him and entertain him. I wasn’t the nicest six year old. :(
JEN: There are so many relationships in this book that stand out to me! I was just thinking about Fern’s mom, too. I can totally relate to Fern’s mom. I love my me-time. I was at IRA and missed putting my kids to bed for two nights. I didn’t see them at all really. I love my kids and I missed their sweet faces but at the same time, I loved chatting with people about books, listening to speakers talk about the benefits of reading, meeting authors and gushing about their books. I cherish the mom side of my life and the professional teacher side of my life. I understand how Fern’s mom is trying to relax and get a little time to herself but I also see how desperate Fern is for her attention. As a mom reading this book, it helps me remember to keep this in perspective. As stressed as I am, I need to recognize that my kids need me as much as I need them.
COLBY: I think that balance is one of the hardest things we deal with as teachers, parents, and spouses. It’s so hard to juggle all of the balls we have in the air. I think that we need to balance things over the course of a month. Some days or weeks we may spend a little more time on school stuff, or a little more time on spouse things, but as long as at the end of the month we are balanced, I think we are okay.
JEN: I agree. If my life revolved around doing things for my kids, I wouldn’t be being taking care of myself as a person. Being productive in my job and interacting with other adults about teaching and reading, which is my passion, is so important to my sanity. Likewise, I am so thankful that my parents will watch my kids so I can spend time with my husband. I have to feed every relationship in my life.
Since we’re talking about relationships, you said before how Fern has a great relationship with Holden. I love their relationship. I’m glad Holden has Fern and that Fern has Holden since they don’t feel like they have really strong relationships with their parents. It was really hard for me to read about Holden being bullied and then about Fern being bullied.
COLBY: I am so sick of all this bully stuff. Why can’t kids just be nice to each other? It makes me so sad when I see it with students in my school or when I read about it. BE NICE PEOPLE!
JEN: I know. I have Wonder in my head with everything I do now. I always try to be kinder than necessary. Plus I saw Jay Asher speak and his book Thirteen Reasons Why is another example of how we should be as kind as possible. We never know what others are going through. What we might see as one small instance of being unkind could actually be one small instance in a string of many that could be one too many for someone. I would much rather be one of the reasons the world is good.
Finally, I have to mention Ran. I love Ran. He is such a grounded character. His family life has been difficult but he has learned to be this really mature, really chill dude. He is totally Fern’s rock. He so seamlessly fits into her family. I love how Fern gets caught up in emotions over her family and other situations but he isn’t caught up in those emotions so he is able to talk her through hers. (This might be more part 3? I can’t remember...) My husband and so many close friends seem to do this for me. I can get very emotional about things and it helps to have someone else give me perspective on
COLBY: I would give just about anything to be as cool, calm, and collected as Ran. He is so cool. I love everything about him. I’m very interested to see how his character develops as I read on.
JEN: I become emotionally invested in basically everything I do. It is really hard for me to sit back and be objective about things sometimes. Lately, there are times when I feel like I can be a voice of reason and I think that comes with experience and age. Ran seems mature for his age. I love that he doesn’t feed into drama. He has been through a lot in his life. That would be a cool companion novel: a prequel of Ran’s story!