Await Your Reply: Part One

Hi, readers,

Thanks so much for all your summer reading suggestions! I think I have enough titles to keep me busy for the remainder of the year. I was happy to see that several of you are checking out books that I just have thoroughly enjoyed (Sarah’s Key, The Passage, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Bridge of Sighs, and the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson). But on to our current read…

Right off the bat, we certainly realize that things are not right in each of the main characters’ lives. Ryan couldn’t be in more dire straits: He’s riding in a car after his hand has been severed from his arm, and his dad is driving him to the hospital. (This image, and the chapter about how his hand was amputated, made me pause to wonder if Stephen King was ghostwriting under Dan Chaon’s name. Did anyone else have this feeling? For me, it was like reading Misery all over again.) As I look back on that first chapter, I now wonder who was driving, since a few chapters into the book, we learn that the man Ryan believed to be his dad is actually his uncle and that his real father is Jay, whom Ryan thought was his uncle. We quickly learn that Jay is one shady dude. After all, he’s got Ryan renting cars, flying, and transferring money under different aliases. I’m guessing that it’s some type of money-laundering scheme—does anyone else have any ideas?

To me, our second character, Lucy, is a silly, silly girl. She’s run off with her former teacher, George Orson, which causes the alarm bells to go off in my head. I have several friends who are teachers and if they ran off with a student, I’d be questioning their sanity. But as readers, we should be questioning Lucy’s instead. George has taken her to his parents’ former house in Nebraska. (I’m not really buying that his parents actually lived there.) She isn’t held captive, per se, but he certainly isn’t answering any of her questions (like when they’re leaving or how he made his money). He talks of “inventing themselves,” which would include creating a new life and assuming new names. I have no idea what George is up to yet, but I’m dying to know. I just hope that Lucy is smart enough to detangle herself from his web before it’s too late.

Finally, we meet Miles, who appears to be extremely concerned about his mentally ill twin brother, Hayden. Miles is so worried about Hayden, who’s been “at large” for more than 10 years, that he’s driven all the way to the Arctic Circle to find him. Hayden has a history of making up stories and people, and sometimes he even goes by a different name. (Sounds an awful lot like our other two main characters, doesn’t it?) I also have no idea where the story about these two guys is headed—but I’m fascinated by the fact that Miles sometimes confuses reality with the stories that his brother tells. Namely, the one about his father’s death. So what’s going on with Miles? I’d love to hear what you think.

Let’s read Part Two by next Friday, July 16. I feel like we’ve got a real page-turner in our hands, so I’m curious to know what you think of the book.

—Ashley

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