Chapter 18- By Chris
Susie tells us about Ruth’s life in New York. How the small apartment she lives in, is owned by a nosy older lady that listens to Ruth’s phone calls, how she talks to her father and plans a trip home very soon. Ruth works at a local bar, where she bartends and is constantly aware of the drunken sob stories about other people’s tragic past. Ruth has decided to keep her sad history a secret, not telling anyone, only her journal knows the truth. Susie explains that Ruth is pretty much cut off from the world, only really keeping in touch through her father and Ray.
Ruth spends her days wondering through New York City finding the places that women and children were murdered, and she relives their tragic deaths, while observing a moment of silence for them. Susie explains that in Heaven, Ruth has become famous because these murdered victims are so gracious that someone acknowledges what happened to them, and in some cases someone finally knows exactly how they died. See Ruth, has the ability to relive these awful scenes in head, she can see how a women was strangled to death or how a child was brutally murdered. But sadly no living person knows what Ruth is doing or what she going through, in New York no one even giver her a second glance, except maybe the drunken men at the bar.
Susie follows Ruth around the day after her sister and Samuel’s graduation. Ruth finds herself in Central Park observing the duck pond and the children on the playground. She sees a small girl that almost sneaks away from her sleeping nanny to some near by bushes, but luckily her nanny caught her in time. In that moment, Ruth has another ‘vision’ about the same scenario but a different time, and a different outcome. A little girl from years earlier wondered off to the same bushes and sadly there wasn’t a nanny or mother to stop the child. Ruth sees that this little innocent girl was murdered in the bushes years ago. She realizes that in some way all of us are tied to our own pasts and our own experiences with such tragic deaths, because of that the nanny was able to wake up and keep the little girl safe.
Susie brings us to her little brother Buckley. She explains how is fell in love with gardening, and is always trying to get new plants and seeds for his garden. Buck believes that the books are wrong and that all plants can be grown together, he mixes all his vegetables and fruits. Susie brings us to one Saturday when Buck’s tomatoes are starting to sprout, he wants to stake them. He greets his father in one of the best times of the day for Jack, the morning they share pleasantries and Buck heads outside to work on his plants. His father sips his coffee and watches from the window at his youngest son pulling some clothes out of a box to stake his plants. Jack realizes that the clothes Buck found in a box, where clothes that belonged to Susie. He runs outside and confronts Buck about the clothes, and tries to take them away. Once again in this scene we see how hard her father has it, and how he still hasn’t let go.
Buckley gets angry about not being able to use the clothes, and lets out all his frustration with his mopey father. He explains that it’s not fair for him to choose Susie over him, and that his friend that lost her mother is ok, so why can’t he be too? Jack is taken back by his statements and by all the emotion of seeing Susie’s clothes; it sends him over the edge. He begins to hear in his head a chanting of ‘Let Go’, all this is so overwhelming that he suffers from a heart attack.
Susie and Buckley both want the same thing, their father with them always. Susie struggles with her desire to have her father pass while in the hospital, so she may be finally reunited with him. Buckley sits at home that night, without the traditional ‘tucking in’ from his father and he is feeling guilty about the fight, thinking he brought on the heart attack. Buckley finally admits to himself and aloud to a ghost Susie, that he wants, needs his father to stay with him.
Susie leaves her little brother in his room and goes for a walk. Quite possibly feeling guilty from wanting her father to die, and being so selfish, so walks to an open field and is met by someone. Her grandfather comes to Susie and they dance in the field for hours, just like when she was six and he first danced with her. He asks her to remember something, and she recalls the explanation he gave her so long ago about why a specific song made him cry. They danced all night and Susie seems more at peace than ever, and something is changing.
Join us in the discussion of the chapter and in answering the questions in the forum!
Questions for Consideration:
1. How does it make you feel to know how Ruth lives her life in NYC? Will she ever be ok?
3. Do you think Buck was to harsh on his father, or did he have a right to call him out about the Susie clothes?
4. Is it fair for Susie to want her father to die? Do you understand why she feels that way? Even in heaven we can be selfish creatures.
5. What kind of changes do you think are to come after Susie sees her grandfather? What do you think it meant by him coming to her and sharing a dance?
New York City
“Booze affects material as it does people” – Ruth page 249
“Her journal was her closest and most important relationship. It held everything” – Susie page 252
“Please don’t let daddy die, Susie – I need him.” – Buck page 260
“Don’t worry, sweetheart. You’re so close” – Susie’s grandfather page 261