Beautiful Creatures Discussion – Week 1

Here it is: the first BC discussion post! Here’s how the book discussions I’ve participated in usually do things: the post recaps the plot for that week’s chapters and ends with a few questions to get the discussion started. When you comment, you don’t have to answer any or all of the questions, and you can and should discuss anything from the chapters you want. The questions are just fodder and not meant to limit the conversation.

That said, here’s our standard disclaimer:

SPOILER WARNING: This post details the plot of the book Beautiful Creatures. If you have not read the book and don’t want to know what happens, don’t read any further.

Before: The Middle of Nowhere

The book begins with Ethan Lawson Wate introducing us to his town and his family. His father describes the people in the town:

There were only two kinds of people in our town. “The stupid and the stuck,” my father had affectionately classified our neighbors.

His father, a writer whose family had lived in Gatlin, SC, since the Civil War, divided the townsfolk into two camps: those “bound to stay” vs. those “too dumb to go.” Gatlin is a small town, stuck in their version of the past. Ethan’s family is different, made initially apparent by their refusal to use the common town euphemisms for the Civil War.

Everyone, that is, except my family. We called it the Civil War.

Tomorrow is the first day of Ethan’s sophomore year at Stonewall Jackson High, and, while he hopes something might be different, he’s sure it won’t be.

…I already knew everything that was going to happen – where I would sit, who I would talk to, the jokes, the girls, who would park where.

There were no surprises in Gatlin County. We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.

Of course, the minute you assume nothing will ever change, that’s when everything does.

Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

There was a curse.

There was a girl.

And in the end, there was a grave.

I never even saw it coming.

9.02: Dream On

Ethan has dreams, dark, vivid dreams about a girl he can’t see but who makes his heart race. On the first day of school, he dreams they’re falling, and he can’t catch her. There’s mud, then green sparks. But, in the end, he can’t save her.

There she slipped through my fingers, and all I could feel was loss.

Lemons and rosemary. I could smell her, even then.

But I couldn’t catch her.

And I couldn’t live without her.

The voice of Amma, the Wates’ housekeeper, wakes Ethan up. His window is open, and it’s raining outside. He thinks about his dream, which he’s been having for months. All he can ever remember is the girl and how much he doesn’t want to lose her.

It was like I was in love with her, even though I didn’t know her. Kind of like love before first sight.

He never sees or remembers seeing the girl’s face, but he knows that losing her made him sick inside.

As he gets up from the bed, he still has he iPod buds in his ears, and there’s a haunting song on it he doesn’t recognize: Sixteen Moons.

Sixteen moon, sixteen years
Sixteen of your deepest fears
Sixteen times you dreamed my tears
Falling, falling through the years…

When he gets up from bed, his sheets are full of and his fingernails caked with black mud…and it isn’t the first time it’s happened. Showering the mud away, he tries to forget the dream. He can’t forget it or the girl in it.

I was sixteen years old, I was falling in love with a girl who didn’t exist, and I was slowly losing my mind.

No matter how much he scrubs, he can still smell lemons and rosemary.

When he goes downstairs, Amma has made him breakfast. Amma is their housekeeper, but she’s also Ethan’s surrogate mother, having taken care of Ethan practically his whole life but especially after his mother’s death. A crossword fan, she has a penchant for spelling words when she uses them. Just like a parent, she feeds him to help him grow and scolds him about his appearance. Amma’s also superstitious, leaving charms and dolls around the house to ward off evil. She is the boss of the Wate house.

But Amma was anything but a mild-mannered old lady. She was the absolute authority in my house.

Ethan’s dad is a hermit, staying in his study night and day working on a new book, and has been since Ethan’s mother died the previous April. Ethan rarely sees him.

Ethan rides to school with his best friend Link (Wesley Jefferson Lincoln, ’cause you know we Southerners will use all three names the minute you’re in trouble *wink*). Since Link is the only one with a car, he drives them to school in his Beater, blasting music as he pulls in front of the house. The music is by Link’s band, Who Shot Lincoln, who are pretty horrible. Still, Link dreams of going to New York and becoming a famous musician. Ethan is envious, because he doesn’t really have a plan of his own.

I didn’t want to end up like my dad, living in the same house, in the same small town I’d grown up in, with the same people who had never dreamed their way out of here.

As they ride to school, past the old houses of town, Ethan asks Link if he put the strange song on his iPod, but Link doesn’t know what he’s talking about. When Link isn’t paying attention to the road, Ethan tells him to watch out for a car passing in front of him. It was a black hearse.

Maybe it was an omen. Maybe this year was going to be worse than I thought.

9.02: New Girl

Ethan and Link arrive late to school, passing the truant officer parked in front of the town’s only grocery store, and are soaked by the time they make it inside. Caught as they walk in, they’re given after-school detention.

The small town mentality of Gatlin extends to the school. Teachers have known all the students since practically birth, and they’ve already decided who the smart and stupid ones are. Ethan, who didn’t reread To Kill a Mockingbird (one of my favorite books ever, btw) over the summer, fails his first quiz in English. Ethan loves to read, and he has a map on his bedroom wall where he marks places he’s read about and wants to visit.

In chemistry class, he’s made lab partners with Emily, who hasn’t liked him since they went to last year’s formal together and dumped him before the dance was even over. She is like all the other girls in Gatlin, and Ethan isn’t interested in any of Gatlin’s young ladies.

I wanted someone different, someone I could talk to about something other than parties and getting crowned at winter formal. A girl who was smart, or funny, or at least a decent lab partner.

Ethan’s history teacher is Mr. Lee, who apparently only teaches Civil War…um, I mean the War of Northern Aggression history. It’s in history class that Ethan first finds out about the new girl at school. He and Link hang out in the hall after class, hoping to see her. No such luck, and they go to their next class, American Sign Language, which they take along with the rest of the basketball team.

Basketball? Yep, that’s right. Ethan is a jock and has been since an eighth grade growth spurt (he’s 6’2″ now). He’s smart, emotional, athletic, and tall. *swoon* Oh, yeah, and sixteen *smacks self*…what was I saying?

The basketball team always sits together at lunch, and one of the other players says he’s seen the new girl.

Link asked the only question that mattered to any of them. “So, is she hot?”

“Pretty hot.”

“Savannah Snow hot?”

Savannah Snow is on the cheerleading team with Emily, and she is (at least in Gatlin) the epitome of the perfect girl. Leggy, blonde, and tan, Savannah is the cheerleading captain and one of the girls who formed the base of the team’s pyramid. Emily, on the other hand, was the top of the pyramid. Their respective positions on the pyramid mirror their positions in the social structure at the school.

When Emily got tossed, the pyramid went on fine without her. When Savannah moved an inch, the whole thing came tumbling down.

Ethan thoughts rest solely on the new girl, and he even wonders if she might be someone he’s dreamed about. Savannah and Emily fill everyone in on the new girl, letting them know that she’s not acceptable in their circle. Her clothes are all wrong, she’s pale, and she’s in the wrong family. The new girl is Old Man Ravenwood’s niece. Based on this information, Ethan decides that the new girl is probably not his dream girl.

Macon Melchizedek Ravenwood is Gatlin’s version of Boo Radley and lives in a run-down house on an old plantation. The new girl, his niece, moved in with him two days before. If nothing else about the new girl brands her a freak in the eyes of the clique, being related to Ravenwood certainly does.

That’s the thing I hate most about Gatlin. The way everyone had something to say about everything you said or did or, in this case, wore.

After school at basketball practice, Ethan plays flawlessly, able to sink every shot he throws. From the outside court, Ethan can see the entire parking lot, and he sees a black-haired girl looking at him from the driver’s seat of a black hearse. He misses his next shot. Other players on the team confirm that she is indeed the new girl. Almost as soon as the girl drives away, Ethan and the rest of the team are caught in a downpour.

The bad omen wasn’t just a hearse. It was a girl.

As he stands in the rain, Ethan gives up hope that this year will be any different than any other.

9.02: A Hole in the Sky

When Ethan arrives home, the dinner waiting for him is cold, Amma’s punishment for him being late for school. Amma’s pissed, and, as he eats his cold fried chicken (btw, there’s a lot to be said for some good, cold, leftover fried chicken *yum*) and mashed potatoes, Ethan apologizes and gets back on Amma’s good side. As they talk, Ethan mentions the new girl, who, of course, Amma already knows all about. Ethan finally gets a name.

Lena Duchannes. Pronounced, in the South, to rhyme with rain.

Amma warns Ethan not to mess with “things you don’t know anything about.” A respected tarot card reader from a long line of card readers, Amma often speaks in riddles. When Ethan asks her for more information about Lena, her response isn’t any more straightforward.

You watch yourself. One day you’re gonna pick a hole in the sky and the universe is gonna fall right through. Then we’ll all be in a fix.

As Ethan’s father emerges from the study for his nightly meal of coffee and Shredded Wheat, Ethan continues to ask Amma for information, which Amma continues to refuse to give him. When she speeds out the door, Ethan’s father asks Ethan what he’s done to her. Turns out Amma raised Ethan’s father. Their conversation is brief but nice before Ethan’s father returns to the grief that’s swallowed him since Ethan’s mother died.

The last five months had been hard for him. He had really loved my mother. But so had I.

As his father walks away, Ethan tries to pull him back, into conversation and into his life. He manages to ask his father about Macon Ravenwood, and his father says Macon is a recluse. Ethan realizes that Macon and his father have that in common. Ethan stops at the study door, remembering the one time, when he was seven, he went in and read his father’s manuscript. His father had been furious, and Ethan didn’t understand why his father kept himself shut off from him. He still doesn’t understand.

The next day at school, Lena is all anyone wants to talk about. The town gossip calling tree is in full force and stories, true or not, are circulating about Lena. The boys at basketball practice however, are only talking about the freshmen girls new to the dating pool. It started at the grocery store, were all the players were expect to meet on Wednesday mornings.

Finally, in the hall, he sees her:

But all I could see was a beautiful girl in a long gray dress, under a white track jacket with the word Munich sewn on it, and beat-up Converse peeking out underneath. … A girl who didn’t look like she belonged in Gatlin. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

When one of his teammates declares Lena off-limits because “she’s a freak,” Ethan confronts him. His teammate makes it clear that any interest in Lena would not be looked upon kindly in the halls of Jackson High. When Ethan walks into his English class, who does he find there? Lena, of course 🙂 And she catches Ethan staring at her.

The English class, taught by Mrs. English, has one rule: sit in the back. Mrs. English has one glass eye and can only see the front row. If you sit in the back, you don’t get called on. Lena, not knowing the rule, sits in the first row.

Emily walks in and immediately begins to taunt Lena, knocking over her back bag and taking Lena’s notebook. Before Lena has a chance to really get up in Emily’s face (come on, don’t act like I’m the only one that wanted to see a smackdown *wink*), Ethan retrieves the notebook, gives it back to Lena, and sits in the first row with her. At the end of class, Ethan turns to Lena, but she leaves the room without speaking. He notices what she has written on her hand: 156.

Despite feeling like maybe he shouldn’t , Ethan can’t stop thinking about Lena and sees her everywhere. He knows she doesn’t fit in and she’s not like everyone else. And still he thinks about her. He finally realizes why this bothers him:

It was that she made me realize how much I was just like the rest of them, even if I wanted to pretend I wasn’t.

One day, as Ethan sits in ceramics class and attempts to mold clay, he hears a viola play the mysterious song he found on his iPod. The music is beautiful and haunting…and better than anything he’s every heard anyone in Gatlin play. When he imagines the words, however, they’re different in his head. The room begins to spin wildly around him, and, suddenly, he’s inside his nightmare, struggling to hold onto the mysterious girl’s wrist but losing his grip…

The teacher’s voice brings him back to the room, and he notices a girl’s hand has been smashed into the clay on his wheel. He knows the hand is hers. Running to the music room, Ethan rushes to find out who was playing the music. He smells lemons and rosemary. He asks the music teacher who he’d heard playing, and, before she can finish her sentence about the new girl and say the name, he runs away.

After classes, Ethan borrows Link’s car. He knows the only person he could have told about the girl, the music, and the visions was his mother, and, absent her, he’s on his own. Link’s keys in hand, he ignores Link’s warnings about missing practice and angering Amma.

His hand wavered as I grabbed the keys. “Don’t be stupid.”

I turned and bolted. Too late.

Food for thought

1. I grew up in what’s considered a big city for Alabama, but I certainly had my share of experiences with the small towns around us. If you’re from the South, do you think the book’s portrayal of a small Southern town is valid? If you’re not from the South, how does Gatlin compare to the small towns where you’re from?

2. Ethan says he hates that everyone in Gatlin judges people, but he does the same thing himself when he writes off the new girl the first day in the lunchroom. When he finally sees her, however, she’s all he can think about. How hard will it be for him to face the disapproval of everyone if he pursues Lena? Would it be any different if they were in college or adults?

3. You’ve now seen mine & Greta’s Ethan – who’s your Ethan? (P.S. Next week you get to see our Lena.)

Okay, folks, comment away!  🙂

~ by fragile little human on 24 January 2010.

25 Responses to “Beautiful Creatures Discussion – Week 1”

  1. […] 1/24/2010: Week 1 Before: The Middle of Nowhere (p 1-3) 9.02 Dream On (p 4-12) 9.02 New Girl (p 13-23) 9.02 A Hole in the Sky (p 24-40) Post by fragile […]

  2. Before- The Middle of Nowhere

    I can already relate to this story because I grew up in Russellville, Alabama. We didn’t have a movie theater (that was in Florence and a 45 minute trip), or a bowling alley (again in Florence), but we did have a vet that would make house calls for your pigs and horses.

    You can already get a feel for how southern the story is going to be just by the mention of the Civil War. My generation doesn’t really talk about it that much but our grandparents’ sure do. I have to admit that I was probably sheltered a lot from those discussions because my family would have been considered Damn Yankees but I still understand. The SOUTH will never let that drop.

    9.02

    Dream On

    Wow, I’m very excited to read a story from a boy’s POV. I am very interested in meeting Ethan. I have to admit that this chapter had a ton thrown at me and I’m curious if I’ll be able to remember all the names. Amma the housekeeper who has raised Ethan since he was little, Link his best friend who shared a dirty twinkie with him in kindergarten, and Dear Dad who is an author. Do we even know his name yet?

    OH! And did you read it?!! The mentioned vampires, LADIES!! Yes they did!

    “He might as well be a vampire; that’s what my Aunt Caroline had said after she stayed with us that spring.”
    (referring to Dad)

    I already feel at home in the south with the talk of old victorian buildings and tricks to keep out the carpenter bees.

    But what about that mystery song on the I-pod? Oh oogady boogady!! Wonder how that got there? Did link put it on there? Umm… no. And when Ethan wants to show it to his friend it is gaspity gasp gasp gone!! OH! I smell something supernatural a brewing.

    Speaking of that lol… (yes we were too speaking of that) I know people just like AMMA with the making of the dolls, the charms, and having a feeling in the weather. Very awesome! I hope we get to read more about that in this story.

    But — dot dot dot — who praytell is in that big black car I wonder? Could it be the lemon and rosemary girl in Ethan’s dreams that he’s FALLING down the rabbit hole with (well duh! this just HAS to be compared to Alice and Wonderland)

    And before I forget… already had my first fan girl swoon…. 6’2… shaggy hair, Chuck Taylers, and a t-shirt. YUMMMY! (quit looking at me like that. I realize he’s only 4 yrs older than my son, but in my little world I’m only 14 so it’s all legal *wink)

    9.02
    New Girl

    WOW! Off to a shaky start Link and Ethan. Way to start a first day of school being late little boys.

    So, we’re introduced to another mega load of characters. I’m curious if we’ll need to remember them all. I have counted 20 (1 is Ethan’s Great x 4 grand dad) and you could say 21 if you count the mysterious Old Man Ravenwood’s neice.

    Everything seems all very high school and normal. You have your cliques of the band geeks, the jock bos, the pretties, and probably even the uglies… but who is the girl with the black waving in the wind hair? Oh my my my don’t we just need to meet this girly?

    I did notice a Twilight connection. (Of course I’m always looking lol!!)

    Emily (well she hates ETHAN but still….) is LABPARTNERS with our sensitive Reader Boy who is just dreaming to get out of Gatlin (ETHAN)

    AND!!

    Dear Dad (do we know his name yet?) drove Emily and Ethan to the prom in his beat-up (wait for it) VOLVO (yeah baby! I wonder if his name starts with C? Omg!! LOL!! That’d be awesome!)

    So to recap… there’s a ton of basketball jock bos, some cheerleaders, and a mystery pale girl with black hair who is pretty but doesn’t dress the part and is the neice of the town’s wacko.

    My fav line: Two Years, Eight months, and counting. I had to get out of this town. — Ethan p.22

    9.02
    A Hole in the Sky

    And I just fell in love with the book.

    FIRST — Amma reads tarot cards. OMG! Loves that!! I was soo soo hoping that they would go more into that and yays!! they are.

    2nd– Ethan wants to open up with Daddy by Dad doesn’t really seem to want to open up to him. I wonder why. I wonder if it’s because Ethan resembles his mother like most sons do. I wonder if this bothers him beyond belief to see his dead wife in the eyes of his son knowing that he’ll never see her again (this is just my guess)

    I wonder how mom died. They say it was an accident.. but what kind? I’m thinking car but maybe it was something else.

    SO, we finally get to meet Lena. She’s got a journal and wears a necklace of odds and ends. OH! And of course the preps don’t like her but this makes total sense. But big fan girl AWWS!! Ethan stood up against Ethan Hating Emily. Awws!!

    BUT BUT BUT — And of course… have to do a Twilight comparison because apparently I do that to everything I even look at anymore… after the little run in with the big bad Ethan Hater— Lena starts to AVOID Ethan. Nows… where have we seen that before, Ladies? LOL!! Wanna go hunting?… camping?… hiking? Squee squee squee!!

    OH… and dot dot dot… NOW the story is getting interesting… THAT SONG IS BACK!! AND AND AND… how freaking cool was that HAND in the clay!?! My eyeballs buggled out, I gasped, and then squeed! Oh yeah baby! It’s starting to get good!!

    THEN THEN THEN!!! la la la la la laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa The music…. (wait.. that came first… oh wells)…. it was LENA!! and more than likely… Lena is the girl in his dreams.

    My fav line:Dig Deep. Fell your way to your soul. — Mrs. Abernathy p. 37

    ———–
    As for the questions 🙂 I’ll only answer 2 of them because I helped with #3 hehe!

    1. As I said.. I grew up in MEGA SMALLSVILLE and yeah… everyone knew everyone. Everybody was in ANYBODY’S business and if your last name was ADERHOLT or HESTER or DeVaney then you were the big balls of the town. I sooo get this! So, the story is very acurtae with small town gossip.

    2. I’m not sure how HARD it will be for ETHAN to face the disapproval of everyone because he gifs Lena. I’m not too sure he’d care… BUT!! I do think this would be a bit different if he was an adult (I’ve never been to college so I have no clue if there are cliques there). In High School its all about the cliques and who sits where and who wears what and who saw who. BUT… as adults… I think it would be a tad different. You’re more mature and aren’t going to worry much about who has cooties and who has the antedote.

    Loveing the story!

  3. I can’t wait to read it but I can’t do it yet since I’m still waiting for my Kindle!!!

    I’ll come back when I read the chapters :)) It’s so exciting that it all starts now!

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by kami garcia, Margaret Stohl, fragile little human, fragile little human, Heather S and others. Heather S said: Fire up the laptop! Woot RT @fragilehuman: new blog post: Beautiful Creatures Discussion – Week 1: http://wp.me/pxgIn-aC […]

  5. Love the recap and the discussion questions!

    I’ll start with the questions:

    1. Small towns – I think one reason I was intrigued by this book from the start is because of the setting – I grew up in a small town one state north of the imaginary Gatlin, and though we weren’t as immersed in Civil War recollections, being mountain folk, the other elements ring very true – how everyone knew each other and each other’s business, the social pecking order built on arbitrary things, the limited access to everything, and the general claustrophobia living there entails. I loved the line about how “the good houses were on River” – there was a street like that where I grew up, and that address definitely signaled something to the rest of the town. I wonder sometimes if small towns are the same now, when teenagers can go online and escape the confines of their geography, but when I was a teenager it felt very suffocating, and much like Ethan, I was counting the days to escape. Although some elements feel slightly exaggerated by Garcia and Stohl for effect, for me they did an excellent job of capturing the flavor and feel of a small Southern town overall.

    2. Disapproval – Ethan’s a 16 year old boy, and he’s never had the kind of distaste directed at him that the cheerleaders direct at Lena from the start, so it probably won’t be a cakewalk at school to face disapproval. But he’s portrayed, to me, as having a slight edge in facing the disapproval of the town than perhaps Link would, for a couple of reasons. First, his parents weren’t the run-of-the-mill Gatlin parents – both are professors, and Ethan’s own awareness of the irony of the town’s obsession with the “War of Northern Aggression”, the banality of the Emilys and Savannahs, etc., suggests he’s never been fully in step with his classmates to start with – although he’s taken steps to fit in by joining the basketball team and hiding his love of books. But his mother’s death seems to have also numbed him to the point where he’s checking out already on what they think – he mentions that he barely practices basketball, doesn’t always hang out with the team as expected, and he’s collecting brochures for colleges far away and counting days until he leaves. So while facing the disapproval of the town probably won’t be easy, he’s from a family that’s probably always been a little out of step, and he doesn’t care that much about their opinion anyway. What probably will be harder is facing Amma’s disapproval – she does seem to be someone’s opinion that he values.

    That said, if they were in college or adults, I think Ethan would have a much easier time – small towns can be very unforgiving, and the world’s narrow for a teenager in high school trapped there. He’s one of them, despite his little rebellions, and he’s never really had to face their disapproval for anything serious before this because he’s mostly played the game.

    3. My Ethan – I like your choice. I had a harder time picturing Ethan, since we’re seeing everything through his eyes, rather than him. A young Josh Hartnett was probably the closest mental image I had.

    4. Other thoughts – One thing that struck me in the first few chapters is both how unfazed and isolated Ethan is to have dreams as vivid and real as he does, yet share them with no one. Can you imagine having a dream and actually waking up to find dirt in your bed and under your nails that’s related to it? I’d be completely paranoid that I was losing my mind, or at the least doing major sleepwalking. And the disappearing and haunting tune on his iPod? And the incident in the pottery class? There’s an interesting balance there between the mundane and the otherworldly in the way that Ethan’s disturbed by it all, yet remains in denial. It seems to mirror the other hints that Gatlin has a double standard, if you will, in its recognition of the supernatural – they’re all good church-going folks, but they sneak off to Amma for tarot card readings they think will change their destiny.

    In summary – I’m hooked and intrigued and can’t wait to see where this will go.

  6. I STILL have not received my book in the mail…I am told it is coming this week! So I did not read the recap yet, but I will! so excited to get my book and dive into it and this discussion!

  7. You know what? I totally forgot about the mud and dirt from the dream. I kind of reminded me of Pet Semetary where the DAD thinks he’s dreaming and when in reality he WAS oogady boogady out digging graves and cavorting with corpses. Hmmm… so maybe…. Ethan IS really living these dreams in like an alternate universe. BUT! Since this is a guy and we’re chicks… I do know that most dudes that age normally don’t ‘talk about their dreams. Weird huh? My hubz hasn’t told me about one of his dreams in like freaking ever. So, maybe that’s a guy thing. They think that if they open up they’ll become all touchy feely.

    That’s just my opinion 😉

  8. Just starting story today. We will be later to comment!

  9. I love how the book starts! It had me thinking WTF from the get-go! I live in the south and the school I went to was big, but it didn’t stop people from being judgmental! I love the fact that Ethan is able to overcome his fear of being unpopular, even if he hesitates for a moment!

  10. I was finally able to shut RL out long enough so I could read and comment, so here we go….

    I wholeheartedly agree with Greta, I was literally biting my nails hoping the book would stay in Ethan’s POV. I guess I was just ready for that change when reading a book I enjoyed, rather than only reading a guy’s POV in fanfiction.

    1. I was raised in the Southwest, in a State that didn’t have much to do with the Civil War, but we did have our fair share of small towns around. Of course we had the jocks and cheerleaders who looked down on anyone who wasn’t them, but a lot of people were different by the way they acted and how they dressed. I guess I can’t really relate to the outsider situation just because you looked different.

    2. I believe it’s going to be extremely hard for him, and I don’t see how it would be any different if Ethan and Lena were in college or adults. I can only see it being different if they both suddenly moved to another town, or possibly another state.

    3. Hmmm, this one’s a tough question. As I read through the book I was trying to picture my own Ethan, but for some odd reason I constantly kept coming up with a blank face in my mind. I’ll search and hopefully have someone in mind by next week.

  11. 1. I did not really grow up in a small town, but several of the same principles apply all over. There are the popluar kids and the outcasts and the popluar kids can be very cruel no matter what the size town. I am sure a small town is worse since everyone knows everyones business. And I think it is much easier to blend in at a large school. I went to very big schools and was neither popular or an outcast. I managed to float through somewhere in the middle and am thankful for it.

    2. I think Ethan will have a very hard time going against his friends for Lena since he does seem to be very much a part of the “in” crowd. I think it would be different if they were in college or adults because peer pressure should become less of an issue as you get older. I know that is not always the case, but it should be.

    3. Ok my Ethan is kind of weird. My daughter has been watching the new Nickelodean show Big Time Rush alot lately so when I started reading this one of the boys from that show popped into my head. I do not know his name, but for those of you who have seen the show he is the one with the dark blonde hair, bushy eyebrows and big nose. He is really not that cute, its just who happened to pop into my head, I have no control.

  12. Woohoooo here I am !!! Just got my Kindle 3 hours before and started reading! First of all this is the very first time I have no fucking clue in what I’ll get myself into! I didn’t read the cover and all your posts. I knew when you all love it, I’ll to so I was like staying spoiler free and just flow into the story.

    I was super surprised to read a guys POV but it doesn’t bother me at all. Isn’t it funny how lately so many books are written in a certain POV? Or I should better say they just became now so popular. Well, it has a certain charm, you know what’s going on in the ones head but all the rest remains unclear.

    Coming to your questions:

    1.) well, I’m from Germany and honestly we don’t have towns like this. sure, we have small towns but you are super fast in a nearby bigger city. So I can’t really imagine that. Although I have been in the States a few times and hubs and me also drove around quite a lot and sometimes I saw towns where I thought “wow, what are they doing here? Where do they shop and what do they work?” As I said it’s hard coming from Germany to imagine towns like that.

    2.) Poor Ethan wil have a hard time when people finally realize his whole fascination with Lena. Although I’m not sure if he really cares later on. He is so focused on her and getting to know her and finding out about his dreams that it seems to me right now as if he’s willingly paying the prize. But yes, all his former “friends” ( if one can they even call like that) will make him pay.
    Adults/College: Adults also judge easily people just from the first sight. But they are mostly not that obvious about any disproval like kids. I guess it is the same everywhere when there someone outstanding like Lena. University is a place where so many people are studying at the same time, so at least in Germany there are always groups of people clustering and other which are more the loner. But nobody cares as much as in High School

    3.) No clue yet!!! But I’m sure I will find mine 🙂 I will show them when it comes to my part of the discussion!

    and now… Thanks Ladys for this wonderful Recap! and I go and read on!

    Never forget: I’m German, which explains my odd english!!

  13. I did soooo many freaking typos!! SOOORRRY this is the excitement …

  14. Wow…How to start….I love Love Love Love Love Love lovey love this story.. It make you really think of the many different things going on surrounding the relationship and accounts coming together to seem like one connection… I will stop there lol

    I will now continue on to the questions : )

    1. Well I grew up with Greta just up the street! Talk about a small town, we were in it!
    This small town surrounded us with rumors about everybody! Anyone ever watch the movie Steel Magnolia’s?
    Well if you have then you will totally understand me. We had a salon in our town and all the town ladies
    would go there to get there hair all done up, and boy at the conversations you would hear!
    Get this, growing up, I woas told that I can’t hang out with Greta because she’s a bad
    influence!!!! HA HA HA.. We so laugh at that!! : ) I mean look…that town didn’t stop us in our tracks!
    So the city, Gatlin, should actually be named Russellville! So is Gatlin, SC a real city like Forks, WA?
    I haven’t done my research on that yet…I will after I post this though!!

    2. I think Ethan wrote Lena off because of the crowd he was with at the time. He doesn’t of course think
    that because he was so curious at who she was, her name, what she looked liked, and was even thinking if this girl
    could be the one..It’s all a peer pressure mentallity, which I think is very acceptable. We always have the different
    thoughts in our heads that nobody knows about!

    3. OMG I know I’m such a dork, but I picture Ethan being a tall guy, well duh they said he’s a basketball player. I also see him
    having curly dark hair. He eats like a horse without gaining any weight. Reminds me of my hubzz..So is anyone curious
    to know who my ethan look-alike is? A young American Pie Jason Biggs..LOL Yes I know I’m a dork! Here’s My pic of Ethan..
    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1121229568/nm0004755

    • I totally googled Gatlin, SC to see if it was a real place – looks like there’s no place to have a tourism boom ala Twilight in SC. Though based on the mention of Lake Moutrie, which is real, it looks like it would be down towards Charleston and towards the coast, rather than upstate SC. (loves Google Maps)

  15. 🙂 I had to make a smiley face!! 🙂

  16. 1. I can relate to Ethan in so many ways. I grew up in a small Central Illinois town, population 2500. We moved to my father’s home town after my Grandfather died, my dad wanting to be closer to his mother. No movie theater, no stop lights, all we had were 6 bars, a bowling alley, and a real Italian pizza place. There were 26 people in my class until our school district consolidated with two other towns my senior year. This catapulted my class to a whopping 65 people strong. In a town and school this small, everyone knew your business. I had a great-aunt who would listen to the police scanner and call my Grandmother and let her know who was in trouble. Any news travels fast in a small town. Great old Minonk, Illinois is very similar to the fictional Gatlin in many more ways too.

    I’ve been in Lena’s situation, albeit I was much younger when I started attending a new school. I didn’t start school in my small town with preschool and kindergarten like the rest of my classmates did. I lived in Phoenix for kindergarten and first grade, transferring into my school when second grade started. The cliques and groups had already formed, so it was really hard to find a group of friends to hang out with. In the olden days of the early 1980s, our classes were divided into the gifted students and the not-so-gifted students. Nice form of segregation, right? My transcripts hadn’t gotten to my new school yet, so I was placed in the not-so-gifted class automatically. I didn’t want to go to school and I’d cry every morning. When I was transferred to the smart class after a few weeks, it was such a relief but exasperating at the same time. The second grade class was so far behind where I was at education wise, I was bored all of the time. I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, just show how backwards and behind small towns can be. I even had to show my teacher the count on your fingers method I had learned when I attended Montessori school starting at age 3. It was so disconcerting to be so far ahead of the other students, it makes it hard to make friends. I still believe that going to school in a small town stunted my educational growth. I was apathetic and did well, but not as well as I could have because I just didn’t put any effort into it. I could half ass everything and still get good grades. This continued all the way through grade school and high school.

    2. I think Ethan knows that he will be ostracized if he pursues Lena. He has lived in Gatlin his entire life and has seen the outcome of such decisions. Being the son of professors makes it easier for him to do something different. It also helps that his mother, who was an outsider, was such a great influence on his life. The values she had instilled in Ethan made it easier for him to follow his heart.

    I believe things would have been much easier for Lena and Ethan if they were in college. There aren’t as many tight knit groups of people when you’re in college, unless you join a fraternity or sorority. When I was an undergraduate, I had friends that shared the same classes as me but we didn’t hang out after class. I’m sure a lot of this was from the fact that I had a serious boyfriend (and 17 years later were still going strong) and we had our own group of friends back home. My school friends didn’t care who I was dating. It’s easier to blend into the scenery when you’re in college, no one really cares what you do as long as it doesn’t directly affect them. Pressure from your family might still be there, but it’s easier to deal with if you are away at school.

    3. Who do I picture as my Ethan? Like some of you, I can’t really picture him. I have a firm picture of Lena, which I’ll share next week. But now thanks to Bierbeck, the Big Time Rush guy with the huge eyebrows is in my head.

  17. Heather- he he he he! Sorry about the Big Time Rush guy. I cant help it- its who popped in my head:) I knew this discussion was going to be fun, I am already laughing.

  18. Greta’s making me post my comments from an email about the Big Time Rush guy she is apparently now cyber stalking. Here you go:

    Oh yeah, Greta, you found the right guy. This show just started on Nickelodeon a few weeks back and it’s really funny. Thanks to Bierbeck this guy is going to haunt my dreams with the huge caterpillar eyebrows if I picture Ethan. Those puppies are going to be the worst old man eyebrows later, they may come to life and eat a few people!

  19. Love this discussion! Well done!! So – I’m only answering two, but that’s okay right? 🙂
    1. I love LOVE books about the south. I’m from the boring old midwest and I’ve always been drawn to Southern lore – it’s so mysterious to me. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to read this book, in fact.
    3. I love your Ethan! It’s so funny bc just today I posted my picks for the Hunger Games and I picked WM as Peeta. Good choice for either, imo.

    I’ll be back for more!!

  20. Fragile, first off a huge thanks for hosting this book discussion. I wouldn’t have picked this book up except for how much you were tweeting about your enjoyment of it and still, without the book discussion, it might have languished on my “to-read” list for who knows how long. And I’d be missing out on the wonderment that is BC.

    As for your questions:
    1) I have never lived in a small town and even though all teen-agers experience peer-pressure, I can’t even imagine how intensified it must be to feel that pressure in the crucible that is a small town. Just the idea that everyone from my high school (which had over 300 student just in my year) would have known the most intimate details of my personal life makes my skin crawl. YIKES!!!!! There’s your horror story right there! LOL!!!

    2) I got the impression from the start that Ethan was more different than he was willing to admit to himself. I agree with SophiaAnne when she says that while facing the disapproval of his peers probably wouldn’t be a cakewalk, he appears to have a slight edge in that his parents aren’t cookie-cutter townies (in fact his mother isn’t even originally from Gatlin). So while I think it will be difficult, if Lena is the girl he’s in love with before first sight, I think he would. He’s doesn’t appear to be so flighty as to let peer-pressure get in his way.

    3) Oh, right from the start MY Ethan has been Steven R. McQueen (Jeremy from The Vampire Diaries).

  21. I must say the first couple of chapters boggled my little brain. I think I was looking for the immediate love like Twilight and although it is caturing my interest, i still have yet to get really into these characters. Ethan seems like your typical teenager, wanting to get away from his typical world; outside of his comfort zone, per se. He seems lonely depsite being one of the “in-crowd”.

    I grew up in the countryside of pennsylvania, but cannot honestly answeer question one well. It seems typical of small town life.

    As for “my Ethan” i would have to say Cody Linley is my Ethan. A good pic of him is here….http://i.pinger.pl/pgr176/fdcdf6e2001f93124a0f18de/Cody+Linley.jpg and a good fan site for the little hottie is here http://www.linleylove.org/

  22. Poo my pic line didn’t work… http://i.pinger.pl/pgr176/fdcdf6e2001f93124a0f18de/Cody+Linley.jpg

  23. Oh hai! *waves* I’m new to this blog and I’m beyond excited for this discussion!! BC is such a wonderful story! I fell in love with it after the first few chapters.
    1. I grew up in a small town in Southwest Virginia. Some people don’t really consider Virginia to be part of the South but I always have. I feel the book does a great job in its portrayal of a small town. My town is a lot like Gatlin. Everyone knows everyone’s business. There are NO secrets here! We have a few families that pretty much own/run the town and prevent anything good from happening. We do have a movie theater but that’s about it. In the book the local hang out is the “Stop and Steal” but the “cool” hang out when I was in high school was the parking lot at Hardee’s. haha! *shakes head while mumbling crazy small town people* I guess my high school experience would be more like Ethan’s. I played softball and basketball. Even though I was considered a jock I didn’t act like a snob. I had my friends that did but that has never really been me, in fact my two bff’s were SO far from being jocks that’s it rather funny. 🙂 The bad thing about high school is no matter if it’s small or large you are more than likely going to have the same experiences.
    2. Ethan does judge Lena at first and I don’t think he even realizes it. He is somewhat your typical teenage boy but then he’s not. Ethan knows what will happen if he goes against his friends and pursues Lena. I think this will be a good thing because if he really wants to get out of Gatlin and be different he needs to learn the ways now. I think it might be different if they were in college but not much. They might not have as much drama but would still be facing the same complications.
    3. Honestly, I don’t know who I see when thinking of Ethan. I guess with it being from his POV I just don’t see him clearly. I’ve got a good picture of Lena but him not so much. Although I think your pick is a really good one!
    Happy reading everyone!! 🙂

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