Book club time — This month, we read "Ask Again, Yes" by Mary Beth Keane. Spoiler alert: we loved it.
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Hey, everyone, welcome back to the mon K. It's me, Monica Bush, one of your co hosts who does solo podcasts like these every once in a while, especially when talking a about books. Um, I know that things are absolutely crazy right now in the world. I don't even want to talk about that, because I'm sure you're getting enough of that everywhere else. But I think it's worth acknowledging that, um, you know, it's happening and we're all a bit offended. And I know for me and for us, um, us being mostly Mary and I right now, um, it's ah, all this craziness has definitely impacted our operations. Um, I guess in a screwed up way, kind of for the better. Because I personally have a lot more time at the moment. Um, but, you know, I think we're gonna We're gonna stick with our podcast schedule. Kind of how it is. Um, but things might get shifted around, given that our schedules have changed, but, you know, kind of. I don't know if you've seen that ticked Huck Mim. There's this tic tac viral sound that goes around where it's one guy going into use. Well, the views. And then it turns to a group of other guys going through these will do, do's and that has sort of been my m o right now. Nights probably your m o too. Um, but in any event, this will be more of a book club episode, because don't think I forgot. We are due to talk about. Ask again. Yes. By Mary Beth Keen, which was, you know, an absolute delight to read. If you haven't read it and you plan to and you're not the kind of person who likes having spoilers, you probably shouldn't even listen to this episode because I'm going to be talking about lots and lots of spoilers. Um, and also, I should say that I'm in the middle of trying to salvage my sticky bun recipe as I record this. Um, if you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me go live. Well, I'm recording this on Wednesday, which is late, but I went live on Tuesday during the first half of the bone appetite, uh, front page, sticky bun recipe that I may have butchered, which is frustrating because I decided to do it in public, but and That's what I get for doing a yeast rising dough recipe live on Instagram. It looks like the dough didn't rise properly, But I did put it in the proofing oven, which is, if you aren't a nerd like me, basically just like another in that u turn on really, really low, which is also part of my regular to see if I could salvage it and it looks like it's coming along. But I'm actually starting this and I'm gonna end up. I'm starting this knowing very well that I am going to end up pausing to go smash some dates for what will hopefully be a date puree that goes inside these sticky buns. If you this at all interests you, you should follow me on instagram or tune in to my stories because that's where I'm documenting my quarantine cooking. And if we're being completely honest, that's just where I document my cooking. But this is Ah, an interesting time period where in everything you do is different because you describe it as quarantine act. So I've been, you know, quarantine, cooking and quarantine reading, and I don't know that's really stupid and annoying, isn't it? But I am doing it, and I think everyone else is doing it also. So if this is a little choppy, I do apologize. But I will do my best to stay on task with probably many detours before we jump into things. I do want to say that we have launched a patri on, which is very exciting. In fact, I will be debating as I continue talking whether or not this episode will be pay. Wald uh, TBD because honor patri on which is patri and dot com slash mon k. That's patriot dot com slash m a. N q u e. We're going to be posting when I say we full disclosure. It'll probably be a lot of me, but we'll see, um, too, for subscribing listeners to extra podcast episodes a month. There's also in a piss on option to get one extra podcast episode a month and an option to get just a newsletter. All three options come with the newsletter. We're taking our donation model off of our website and going to patron because it gives us a bit more flexibility. It makes it easier to provide pay walled content, which has always been the goal since I started, Mon k. I always saw it going towards more of a subscription base. I always saw a pay wall coming in. Um, I've had that had the dough. Me Now for a little over a year, I believe I announced Mon K about a year ago. Actually, I think last week or the week before came up in my instagram story memories. That was really crazy. Thio see me tentatively announcing to my instagram friends that I was going to start this endeavor and to sort of outline roughly in my vision for what it would become. And, you know, I am never content with what I'm working on. So to me there's so much more work to be done and there's so much more growth that needs to happen. But I tried to mark this occasion by just taking a moment, stepping back and basically just patting myself on the back for going after this because I have to tell you that putting yourself out there even in this little way with this little site that still doesn't, you know, really garner to too much traffic in this podcast with a very modest listenership. So far. It's absolutely terrifying. And I was actually thinking about this yesterday and the day before. Two days ago, Mary and I went live on Instagram for an hour while I made applesauce. And, um, you know, we were just basically are idiots elves, much like we are on the podcast. But it was so terrifying to do that I had never gone live before, and I don't think Mary had either. And it provided an opportunity for a little bit of soul searching because, well, I had to ask myself a few questions, among them being Why was it so scary to go live on Instagram, where ostensibly I am not someone who has a 1,000,000 Instagram followers so ostensibly the majority of people who follow me in the majority of people who are going to get that notification about the fact that I'm going live are people who are my friends. They are like you guys. They're people who listen to this podcast. But in my broken brain that's just been damaged by probably being moderately to severely bullied in middle school and just general insecurities In my broken brain, people would only tune into hate, watch and I don't know if that just says something about me, um, and the way that I treat other people, which might be true, Um, Or if it really just highlights how deeply insecure of a person I am that deciding to do that stupid little thing which garnered next to no attention but enough whatever. That's not really the point I like. That was such a huge step for me, basically, is what it felt like, and I don't know if Mary felt the same way. But I have a feeling considering the circumstances which led to ah me sort of goading her to join me. And ultimately I decided that it really wasn't that scary, and I was actually kind of fun. And who cares? Like I was talking to need afterwards in an attempt to have a bit of a post op. And I'm used that maybe doing vulnerable things like that is actually really good for people like me who are very self conscious and selected circumstances. If that makes sense, like I could be a very outgoing person, I apparently have decided that the world wants to listen to me slash Mary and I talk to ourselves slash each other for 30 minutes to an hour on a regular basis. But at the same time, you know, it's really scared to do stuff like that, huh? So in an event, so I did actually already pause this if you card it or not to go smash some dates up with some water and some cinnamon. And I looked at the dough and it looks like Arise rose a little bit enough for me to try rolling it up in giving it a second proof. So I rolled it out and I filled it with date filling and put the little baby maybe maybe Baby Ross in a cast iron pan. And they're proving again, this time over the stove. So fingers crossed. But what I actually came here to talk about was our book club pick for the month. Our pick for march, which was What day is it? What month is it? You know, as an aside, marches always the longest month of the year for me because I usually spend it just counting down until summer. And that's all I think about it this time of year. But given everything that's been going on, this month has flown by. I mean, it's going to be April next week. That's crazy. So in any event, uh, this book was our pick for March, and I'm a lazy person, so I'm gonna try to give you a summary. I mean, I find, you know, people who go and read these really long summaries. I find those sort of things to be kind of boring. But I thought that I should give some context because if you're a weird person like me who likes to listen to podcasts about books that you haven't even read yet and maybe never will, it's nice to have some context for what's going on. And maybe you're like me also. And you read this book and then you probably forgot huge chunks of the plot because that's the kind of broken brain you have, which apparently, is the phrase for the week in any event. So it was Ask again Yes, by Mary Beth Keen. And we picked this book based on it being one of the most read books on good reads of last year. Esoteric books. They're fun, but I'm kind of in the mood lately to try to stay relevant on by that, I mean, you know, keeping up to date on books that have recently come out or books that are about to come out, because then I guess there's more of a motivation for people to pick them up. I guess if they're going to be seeing articles about them and new segments and people tweeting, etcetera, etcetera. So this book was released in May of last year, and, according to you, the dust jacket, Mary Beth Keen attended Barnard College and the University of Virginia. And if you don't know because you're not a weird person, Barnard is the women's only college that's attached to Colombia. It's a separate college inside the university, but it is only for women. As she received her Emma fate of the University of Virginia, she has been named one of the National Book Foundations 535 which is not a small potato and was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for fiction writing. She currently lives in Pearl River, New York, with her husband and their two sons, and she also wrote the Walking People and Fever, neither of which I have read. But after this book I'm inclined to check them out. So I'll toddle around, you know, with what's written on the book. Jack, the book jacket. You know, the jacket that books were rather the dust jacket and dust jacket. Jeez, Louise and what I remember. So the book starts out in 1973 and you have to rookie cops on the NYPD Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, who lived next door to each other outside the city. And over the course of the beginning of the book, you find out that Francis Gleason moved into his house with his wife and the house next to them was empty for a while. And then Brian Stanhope moves in with his wife, Ann. And it's because Francis suggested to Brian that there's an empty house in his neighborhood because they're both house hunting now. This is where you know the dust jacket tries toe lure you in without giving you any details. But it says what happens behind closed doors in both houses, the loneliness of France's wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian's wife, and sets the stage for the explosive events to come. Now, basically, what that means is that M. Stanhope is incredibly standoffish, and you'll figure out pretty quickly that she suffers from some sort sort of mental illness, Although they don't diagnose it. She clearly Sufferer suffers with some depression symptoms, and she seems to be prone to anxiety. And I don't know I'm not. I'm not a clinician who can diagnosis. But what they do show is that she's anxious and she's depressed and she's pronto isolating herself in her house. And she doesn't really have a social life. She doesn't really make friends, and she also seems to have some delusions. You know, she's She seems to be pretty paranoid about people around her and their intentions. And they sometimes go into her thoughts that a being the author Mary back in the Amish in that Rita at and makes it appear as though she struggled, sometimes maintaining her grasp of reality. Um, where's Lena? Wants to be very social and wants to be an surrounding the beginning of the book, and she tries to Buddy Buddy up with her. You know, you see that they're both They both start to sort of have Children at the same time, except Anne has at least one stillbirth. Um And so Lena tries to be really friendly and bring over some old baby stuff that she doesn't need A. She's like on her. I don't know, third child and and like Oh, thank you. Then all of a sudden just shows up a few days later and it's like, I don't need your help. Here's your baby swing we can provide for our own and you're like, OK, I don't know where that's coming from A that point, but all right, clearly, Team Lena at this point, um, eventually and does have a son, and he becomes the main character next to Francis and Lena's youngest daughter. So Peter is an and, um, uh, Brian Sun and O'Brien have Peter and Francis and Lena have Cate and Kate and Peter are the center of the novel, Um, in a sterile relationship. They've really the entire book. It's focuses on s so they become best friends because they're born. I don't know there, but, like a few months apart, something to that effect. And they are just being attached to the hip from childhood from basically birth. Up until I think it was the summer before the ninth grade, when shit kind of goes crazy, which I don't really like to use that word in this context because we are talking about Anne's mental health issues. But you know what? I'm not even gonna edit that out because we're all human and we make mistakes. So I'm just owning that one. Um, so there's a scene, this sort of the inciting incident of the rest of the book where Peter is at a grocery store with his mother. But he's sitting in the car and she's inside at the deli counter and she pulls a number and it seems to miss it, but doesn't register that she's missed it. And as time goes by, people who have higher numbers than her are called, and she grows very tense and ultimately causes a huge scene and pulls out a gun. And you find out that this little gun she pulled out is her husband Brian's off duty gun. Which is not a thing that I knew that police had, Um, but let the more you know, um and she doesn't shoot anybody, but obviously that please come and she gets taken away in a hospital. And Brian gets in trouble because he didn't safely stow his off duty gun, and he had no idea that she had it. He was down the street at an auto shop. So things continue to escalate. And this leads us to a situation where we're inside Peter's house. And it's probably worth mentioning that Anna's really controlling and obsessed with Peter, and she displays some nearly abusive tendencies that, well, I know that they are abusive, but they aren't the kind of abuse of tendencies that you might stereotypically think of. It's more of like controlling and manipulative. It's a little less on the, you know, like totally ah, beating and you know, that sort of thing. But she does isolate him and doesn't like to always let him go out and play. And over the years is he in Kate become even closer. She starts to really resent Kate, and you can read into that what you will. But I'm not going to armed here expressed that one, Um, so after the grocery store incident, things escalate and and announces that Peter cannot hang out with Kate anymore, at which point he basically tells her to stuff it. But you know, when you're about 14 years old. How much control do you have over that sort of thing? Now this really brought me back and so did what immediately happens afterward. Where and doesn't send him back to school. And Peter comes up with a way to communicate with Kate from across the yard that they should meet up around midnight or 12 30 or whatever. And they sneak out and they run away to an old tree house or something like that. And he basically professes that he has been developing feelings prayer, which has been sort of building at this point. You know, there are a lot of, like, little little key indicators. It's sort of like the Dawson and Joey thing, you know, like where the beginning of Dawson's Creek starts out, and Joey's like things aren't the way that they used to be anymore. Dawson. I can't just like Sleepover in your bed anymore, which basically just means that you're hitting puberty and you're like, Oh, wait, my best friend's kind of Cuban Oh my God, I have hormones. And what is the sexual attention? It's a very precious time of adolescence. I think if you have a a person in your life where there are these sort of, like mutual crush the feelings, But your bulls like, really tentative. I mean, I know those are some of my tender like adolescent coming of age memories. And this Mary Beth Keen really just nails what it's like to go through this where it's a sort of like you don't want to be too forward, but you're you're not even you're not sure where to focus, is it? Do you focus on figuring out if you're the person likes you? Do you focus on figuring out what you want? Do you think about like what kissing is like? Like it's like all of these questions is going to your head and man. Life was so simple back then, which is also, incidentally, like the time period in your life for music hits you the hardest. Which is probably why I still listen to a lot of music I did when I was 14 which is also probably why, when I was doing Instagram Live on Tuesday, I just played this new bride I song that came out yesterday on loop the entire time cause I thought it was funny and like I don't know on brand or something. Or maybe, you know, maybe it's just my personality. What is the brand to a personality? These are questions I've been asking myself anyway. So, obviously, even though you are willing it not to happen, they get caught. And this causes basically an explosion. So they get caught and things. You know, they're separated, whatever their parents, their two mothers find them and their lives are coming back, like right in the house with a butter, butter, butter butter. And you didn't really tell you. I don't think exactly what happened. Did you know about how the fight started inside of Peter's House? But and and Brian get into a huge fight, and it's sort of implied that I probably should have mentioned this. But when Peter and Kate are having their first kiss, little love experience, Peter also tells Cate that his dad is leaving and going to go live with his brother George in Queens. And Peter doesn't want to go with his dad because he's worried about his mother, which I totally understand. It's sort of like a stock homes and drew me thing, but he genuinely believes that he is the thread holding his mother together, which is very sad. But when they go back in the house, their respective houses, I don't think that Mary Beth Keane tells you exactly how the fight starts. But I could just be misremembering, in which case I'm very sorry, but basically and gets ahold of Brian's gun again. And Brian seems to know this but doesn't stop her and know she has the gun and just walks away from her. And I think the implication there is that he's kind of just going. Thio let her potentially hurt herself instead of trying to deal with the drama of stopping it. That's the way I read it. I think that's what's going on there. And Peter runs over to the Gleason's house to Kate's house and is knocking on the door. And, of course, you can imagine what's going on inside that house where your 14 year old daughter just got caught sneaking out with the neighbor boy in the middle of the night. And she's basically like where you weren't doing anything that bad. I swear to God things. They're just tough at his house, which, like, hey, I've been that girl before, um, and Peter shows up, and he's like, Hey, my dad has a gun and at this point, you know, they don't tell you this, Really? I don't know who keeps referring to this day like I don't know, like it's a conspiracy. And it's not just like a lapse in my own memory. But at this point, Francis has ascended the police ranks, and he is Brian Superior and Brian. It's just a simple patrolman who has not advanced much at all. For whatever reason, probably a combination of just his own drive and his family issues. But Peter's like, Hey, oh my God, my mom has a gun liberally blue and Francis is like, Oh, God, I'm gonna be hero and runs over there and opens the door and and shoots him in the face. He survives, but he can't be a police officer anymore, and he loses an eye and you know at this point and goes, she's arrested. But she's sentenced to basically like an indeterminate amount of time in a mental hospital, and so she's out of the picture. But of course, she isn't really out of the picture because she's Peter's mother and she is the driving force of this conflict in a lot of ways. So she can't truly be gone for this to make complete narrative sense. And so Ann is gone. And so Peter and his dad, Brian, moved to Queens to live with Peter's Uncle George. But Brian leaves. He's basically like, Hey, guy, I'm going south like I always wanted to and you can come with me or you can stay and Peter's like, Well, I'm gonna stay and you know all of this as all of this is happening. Peter and Kate had just finally confessed to each other that they had feelings for each other, which is Oh my gosh again, I just really brings me back to my teen years and how intense those emotions are and how devastating this kind of separation is. Uh, and so he's choose to stay with his uncle, and he goes to a different school at this point, and he doesn't communicate with Kate again until they're in college. Inside the book follows them separately for a while and then follows their reunion and college. Peter seeks her out and sends her a letter, and they meet up and they basically start dating immediately. And there's a lot of tension there, and I won't narrate the details of the rest. The plot, but a quick summary is that you know they date for a long time, and as this is happening, he loses contact with his mother, who no longer lets him visit her. But then she gets out of the mental hospital where she had been at this point for, like 10 15 years and starts Loki stocking them. And so you see their relationship happen quickly, where she starts, like showing up on their street and, like just kind of watching them from a distance like a couple times a year and link This goes all the way up through their wedding until they have Children. And the rest of the book is really about Peter trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. And he is of basically a What's the word like Prodigy like a track prodigy in college. But he takes sort of the easy way. No, he doesn't take the easy way out, but he decides to go to a D three school because they give him a full scholarship versus like an Ivy League school that wants to recruit him with a partial scholarship because he's really just obsessed with not making um himself be a nuisance. And he's really focused on making sure that life is sort of a Z Z as possible for himself and for those around him. So he doesn't want to go into debt and all of that kind of stuff, which like, Hey, maybe we should talk about that in the context of what it's like to be a child within the beast of parent and the ways they learn to cope, and the way that those coping mechanisms then transform the way that you make decisions as an adult on impacts the rest of your entire life. But, I mean, I don't know anyone who would have things to say about that. Uh, so he ultimately becomes a policeman, which is interesting. And of course, the entire backdrop to this is that the Gleason's never wanted Kate and Peter to get together, either because their thoughts or like, you know, Peter is trouble because his mother is trouble and he's probably got issues, too, and he does have issues. But they're not the same as ANS. He becomes now colic, and that is like sort of the last big leap in the book. And now that I've talked about the plot for this way too long, I just wanted to talk a little bit about some of the things that Keen has said about the book and things I found interesting. So she was actually on Jimmy Fallon, and this was last August and I have a link to it and I will try to remember to put that in the show notes. But I kind of suck at that kind of stuff. And he she told him, and she said this in a few different places. But she told Jimmy Fallon that she conceived of the book is being. If Romeo and Juliet had lived and had to deal with the life that comes afterwards and assume she said that I was like, Wow, it's like the light just went on and I was like, That's exactly what this book is And I didn't want to tell you that at the beginning, because I wanted you to sort of experience it as a natural revelation the way that I did, But I thought that was really interesting because we really do still, like we really hard core romanticize the Romeo Juliet plot line. But in a retelling of a traditional plot, I rarely see a situation where the author decides to change the outcome instead of just modernizing it like we could modernize Romeo and Juliet. I mean, haven't we done that like, a 1,000,000 times at least, like we love tales of doomed youthful romances? And I don't know why. Perhaps because we like to think, um, that if the life we imagined for ourselves didn't happened didn't happen as a teenager, maybe we should just relive it over and over again and tell kids that that's the case. I mean, I could go on a whole tangent about that. I don't know what it is about adults telling teenagers that you were like, Oh, you can be anything you want until you're like 14. And then we're like, You shouldn't have any lofty goals and you'll never see your friends in high school ever again. And I bubble up, which in this day and age certainly is not true. Um, so it was sort of refreshing to see a take on the Romeo and Juliet tale where they do end up together and they do have struggles and their families don't really get over it. But like they do make it work and things tented fall. I mean, I think that there's a net positive here for the characters. By the end of the book, I mean, they end up in a better place. Then they could have certainly, and the end of it absurdly a better place than they would have if Mary Beth Kane had decided to retell the Romeo and Juliet, you know, just point by point and just make it a parallel modern story. But I also thought was interesting as I was watching this interview that she did with book reporter dot com. She did a long video interview there, and she'd hold them that she came up with the idea for Francis First and Peter second, and she didn't really know right away with their relationship was going to be. But, you know, I probably didn't emphasize Francis enough when I was telling you what this book was about. But Francis is interesting because he is a patriarch, you know, like of the Earth. Like, I guess, Like blue blood. Uh, who has to retire early from the force because he gets injured, But he doesn't really, ever stop being a cop, which, you know, we can talk about that. What, What? That The implications of that Another time. But I'm not really in the mood at the moment, but it never really stops being a cop, like, even when Peter is going to the process of trying to get through the academy and going through the background check like he keeps popping up because people let him know they're like, Hey, the son of that lady who shot you is trying to become a cop like, What do you think, etcetera, etcetera And like at one point can't Kate has to go and beg her dad for his approval to get Peter's application process basically seen all the way through which he ultimately does because he's a good guy. He's very much like the dad from this is us. That's what I kept thinking of. Like like if the dad from this is us was shaped like the dad from The Incredibles is I envisioned him. Um, if that makes any sense, I don't know if that's like, Yeah, that does make sense. I'm not even gonna defend that. Just if you don't get a Google image, search it, you'll get it. Speaking who that would be, my wine glass hitting my water glass. Speaking of which, something that struck me about Mary Beth Keen because she has really big Lauren Graham energy like they look so much alike, you know, like shoulder length brown hair, blue eyes and I don't have it like there's something about the facial structure is the same, But even the way she carries herself, I was like, Wow, this is like Lorelai Gilmore wrote this book, and I super fucks with that, um, and a video. Even just like her cadence, I thought that that was really cool. So she also told book reporter that the deli scene was one of the first scenes that she wrote, and I thought that was really cool because that's the inciting incident of the entire book. But you can't really tell when you're in the moment in that event, like how significant is going to be because up until that point and has kind of had like a few different blowouts, and she does have a few more after that, like blow ups like scenes where she's having, I guess, what you would call a mental breakdown. Uh, but I thought that was really interesting. I always like to hear what authors came up with first because then you can kind of go back and figure out like, OK, so it started with jealousy. And so you can kind of, like now see how the entire story, like, leads up and leads away from that and how the daily scene is really like your workers. They talk about it so much for the rest of the book, and Peter super scarred from it, obviously, and it like, turns into what separates them. It turns into what leads up to the incident, where an shooting Francis in the face and that also makes it interesting to me that she came up with Francis and Peter first, and I guess they really are two of the most dynamic characters in the book. Like we see a lot of Cate and Kate is really likeable, But Peter is definitely the more complex one, and so is Frances. Out of all of the form five major adults that are in the book. You know, he we really see Peter struggles with his identity, and we also really see Francis struggle with his identity. And the decision to make Peter turn into a cop I thought was also very interesting because I did not see that coming as I was reading it. I mean, he wants to. He doesn't stay a cop for what it's worth. I mean, he does at the very end of the book, become a history teacher. Uh, but I was very surprised when he was like, Okay, I'm just gonna be a cop, But I think that he chose it because it seemed like a good economic decision. Among other things, like he was qualified for it. He was healthy enough for it. And obviously it comes with a good pension, etcetera, etcetera. Um, So Mary Beth Keenan said that when she was writing that jealousy and she was really focused on the concept of being very afraid. And that is what happens in that scene, like an is really stressed. And she's becoming, I guess I want to say almost paranoid about what's going on around her, and it is that fear. It's very much that fear that just like, has her just totally, just, like, lash out like here. I'll read a section of it. So if you have a copy of the book, this is on Page 50 and it goes Next thing. And Dan Hope knew everyone had been waiting alongside her, seemed to be ordering or seemed to have ordered. Already. There are people who'd come after her. She couldn't have described them. She felt merely a gathering presence beside and behind her, who now had their meats and cheeses and salads and were on their way. Only an Stanhope remained. The employees behind the counter were so busy that the dial was at 52 then, almost instantly at 60 61 was called. People stepped around her in front of her, and she felt right down to her fingertips, a kind of quickening. The gathering of momentum was familiar, though she hadn't felt in a while her heart and her pulse and some wild fury coming together in a rhythm that gained force and speed. The longer she stayed quiet, the more she looked around and noticed her peripheral vision sparked and distorted the edges of everything, so that when she turned quickly to look at something, it moved just out of sight. And even while everything inside her body seemed to speed up everything outside of her body, the movements of the other shoppers, the reaching and lowering of boxes and packages and two carts slowed a carton of milk had a wet drip gathering along the cardboard seem. The tip of an old man's nose was so vain threaded, it looked blue, and when he went to rub it, she saw the delicate hairs inside his nostrils ever bit as private, every bit as private as hair and the other part of the body in the distant front of the store. The automatic doors. We eased open, and she could feel the cold air racing down the aisle and slide under the collar of her coat. She could see that the people around her didn't care that she'd been missed. She took a step back and saw in vivid color because her mind was that sharp. It moments like this, everything spotlighted so the details should overlook now were glaringly obvious that, in fact, they'd orchestrated her exclusion for private petty reasons that weren't worth trying to understand. They smirked and nodded and gave each other signals. They banded together and decided that Number 51 would get skipped. She stepped out of her heels to get a better sense of what was happening to defend herself if need be. And in one nimble motion, she bent and swept the shoes from the floor, tossed them in her basket. She unwound the scarf from her neck. Wait, she called out, raising her hand like a grade schooler who just thought of the answer. She pushed forward to the counter. Are you all right? A woman standing nearby asked. You can't take off your shoes. Why can't I? And snapped, turning on the woman to study her. The woman's lips were rubbery, untrustworthy, and she had shades of laziness and her expression that and found disgusting. Some distant part of her recognize the woman as a eucharistic minister at ST Bartholomew's, and she was amazed. He's never noticed before, how revolting she waas! This woman had put her filthy fingertips on the host, the body of Christ, and Anne had taken into her mouth. She felt her stomach rise in a crawling at the back of her throat. She put a fist to her purse mouth and willed herself not to vomit. And I will leave it there in order to encourage you who haven't read the book to pick it up. But yeah, from that, she basically she pulls out the gun and you know that, uh, the plot continues, Um, so I do want to briefly talk, you know, if we wrap this up because I could probably talk about this book for quite a while. There are a lot of things to go off on tangents about, but something that Mary Beth Keane talked a lot about it with various media outlets with whom she discussed the book was the concept of estrangement and what happens during familial estrangement and the way that time passes so rapidly when your estranged, which, if you remember earlier I was talking about how, after an basically tells Peter toe f off and stop visiting her, she starts stalking him basically. I mean, I say the word basically so much, I'm so sorry, but I'm not gonna edit it out because that's not the kind of girl I am um, she stalks him and he is none the wiser until he's well into adulthood. But time really passes like you go from having them being in college to all of a sudden. They're, like, 40 with two kids, and they're like, What are we doing with our life? And I thought that that was so riveting for several reasons, among them being my own experience with a strange man. I mean, let's see. I'm no, I'm not gonna get too far into it cause, like, I've written about this before and I will write about it more, and this is not really the time or the place for it. But let's see. I'm 27 turning 28. I haven't talks to my mom and seven years like, not really talk to her. Like I called her with some bad news a couple times, and that's we don't talk. We don't There's no happy birthday. There's no text. I don't know if she even has my phone number, you know, like that sort of estrangement. And wow, just sitting here doing that math. I haven't done that math in a really long time, but yeah, it has to have been 78 years at this point because I was 1921. We last spoke when we last had a relationship which is really bonkers indefinitely like every year. I think, like somewhere inside me, I think, like, you know, this is the time. This is the year. This is the birthday. This is the Christmas. This is the inciting incident that will instigate her communicating with me again because, you know, it is definitely more of a one way estrangement. Um, and time frickin flies. I mean, like, in that time period, I have established a whole new life. I've graduated college twice. I'm planning a wedding. I'm fixing up a home. I have two dogs. I've lived in New York City for several years. I've come backed to Massachusetts like so much has happened and it just flies. And, like, everyone would always tell me, you know, like, Oh, it's just a fight. Like she's gonna come back to you. That's what happens. You know, she loves you, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But sweethearts, it's been seven years. Where is it going to go? And that is basically the movement in this book like what happened during estrangement. What happened? Obviously there are a lot of themes here, but a big theme is definitely, you know what happens during estrangement, Mary Beth Keene told The New York Times. No one ever plans to become estranged. It happens day by day, year by year. Until next thing oops, 20 years have gone by. Is it possible for a parent and child to become true strangers to one another? Or is there always some connection? I began writing this book to figure out how I might answer that question. So perhaps this book really just hit home with me because I struggle with a lot of the questions that are part of it. But damn, if that I mean I it's hard to even talk about right because I don't want to just end up gossiping about my own life and like putting things out there that have already been out there in some way, shape or form. Um, but this was definitely the kind of book where I couldn't help that project my own feelings. If that wasn't obvious enough, when I was talking about what it's like to be a teenager like in love with your friend, uh, onto it. But, I mean, I think that's I mean, this isn't amazing. Unique revelation, but like, that's why we read as a knight like, isn't that y v like stories? Because we see a bit of ourselves and the characters, even if our circumstances are totally different or whether I mean, even if they're very similar, like we read stories because we want to be engaged with, like, the big life questions. And, you know, sometimes the questions that we ourselves aren't even necessarily struggling with in the moment. I mean, like, that's why I watch This is us, isn't it? Because I'm not struggling with a lot of things that the characters and there are. But I'm struggling with some of them, and they're sort of this feeling that I might encounter some of the obstacles that they encounter as well. And I think that's why I've always been a fan of, you know, really character driven stories. We're obviously there are several plots in this book, and perhaps like the key plot is what happens when two families live next door to each other and there's the son of the youngest daughter. Like fall in love with each other. Then they're separated because the families can't make a deal like, literally the plot of Romeo Juliet. But the plot is very much actually driven by who the characters are and the kind of decisions that they make when put in the specific circumstances. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is also the plot of life. And I don't know, I've always been the kind of person to look for answers in art Blip, which is an obnoxious thing to say. But, I mean, you know, I was the kid. He was writing lyrics to songs I liked on my hand because I felt that I gleaned some sort of truth from them. Some sort of direction, some sort of, you know, nod from someone I admire saying, you know, I went through this, too. And this is how I felt and how you feel is normal and valid and riel and reasonable and rational and worth documenting. And ladies and gentlemen, that is how you become the kind of person who majors in English and then in nonfiction writing. And then you start a podcast where you ramble on about books and you start Monkey Magazine so I'm gonna leave you with that. Um, this was a very excellent book, in my opinion. I think I gave it four stars on good reads. Uh, because, um, maybe I will actually up it because I just tried to really quickly justify away only gave it for And I think that maybe it was because I was embarrassed, because I tend to either get things like two stars or five stars. Like 34 category doesn't really exist for me, because I'm either kind of like an arm like, Oh, my God, everybody needs to read this book. Um, but I will leave you with this, and I will leave you with, um, the concept of compounding life events And what it the question of what it takes to get from A to B. Because I thought it was beautiful what Mary Beth Keane said where she said that she hopes that the reader can see Peter the kid inside Peter the adult, and Kate the kid inside Kate the adult as they grow older. And that's certainly how I think about myself. And that's how I think about people that I've known for a long time and That's how I try to humanize people that I have trouble agreeing with or relating to our liking or having patients with. And that's Ah, that's where I'm at today. All right, you guys stay safe. Follow us on social media, I felt like this was a bit more of a structured but conversation that I am prone to you. I'm trying to be a little bit better about it. Especially yes, we posed more often and we bolster up a tree on. But you know what? This is Ah, me very much emulating the kind of podcasts and conversations solo or otherwise, that I like to listen to. So hopefully you know, if it's your jam, you stick around. And if you it's not your jam, you just a pick up your things and move on with peace and, um, harmony. All right. Uh, yes. Oh, check out our patriotic as patron dot com slash mon k hg sign up for unpaid newsletter and I will post bonus Pote podcast content twice a month for those who subscribe. And, uh, otherwise, I, uh I think I'm out piece