Necessary Lies - First Discussion! — The Bump
April 2013 Moms

Necessary Lies - First Discussion!

@elbou @ceamac0127 @jdubb13 @audreyjem @cfattig @danuli8@melandjames14 @kara1204 @lifesgoodmom @bellabean76 @jthree @jenbee829 @sunflower92 @kate_c

I came up with a bunch of discussion questions for ch. 1-13 of Necessary Lies. Please feel free to talk about some of the questions, all of them, or anything else you want to discuss! I just figured it would be good to have some jumping off points for discussion.

1) What are your impressions of Charlotte? What kind of social worker is she? Do you believe she is truly helping her clients? How do you think Jane will compare/stack up now that Charlotte is gone?

2) What are your reactions to the Eugenics board/the sterilizations? Is it ever okay to do this to someone?

3) Do you think Jane will go through with getting Ivy sterilized? Why/why not?

4) What do you think of Jane and Robert's marriage? Can it work out?

5) Mr. Gardiner - do you like him? Are his judgments fair? Is he a good person at heart?

6) Any ideas about who Brenna is, how she's connected to the story, and why Ivy's and Mary Ella's names are in the closet?

7) Should Baby William be placed in foster care? Why/why not?

8) Anything else you want to discuss?

Again... you don't have to answer all 8 questions! Feel free to discuss whatever stood out to you or interested you!
Amanda

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Re: Necessary Lies - First Discussion!

  • @jennbee829 Thanks girl! I AM an English teacher, haha.

    That's so interesting about Mr. Gardiner being the father of the Jordan kids... that never crossed my mind before, but it could definitely be the case! I do think he is a good guy trying to do the right thing, but it's hard for him to escape the biases that he has grown up being told his whole life. When he called Mary Ella an imbecile and his complete refusal to allow his son to be with Ivy are definitely close-minded. It makes me sad about Ivy and Henry Allen... they love each other! Although they're young and not necessarily making wise decisions.

    I don't think Mary Ella should be having children at this point in time. The fact that she doesn't listen to what anyone says, continues to be promiscuous, and is unfit to take care of her child lead me to believe that she should NOT have any other kids. However, sterilizing her without her consent is obviously not okay. I think it's interesting that she took the spermicide from her sister... I was surprised because part of me thought she WANTED another baby, but now it seems like she wants to protect herself. I don't understand why they wouldn't offer her birth control FIRST, long before they decided to secretly sterilize her. The thought of Ivy being sterilized and not knowing about it is REALLY sad to me. I sincerely hope Jane doens't do it, and I don't think she will. 

    As for baby William, I am worried that his home isn't safe for him. He had a horrible rash and no one even noticed until the nurse came. Mary Ella used the wrong cream on him. Ivy comes home and he is in a filthy, sagging diaper. Obviously they love him very much, but I'm just not sure if the family is really capable of caring for him or if it's a safe situation for him. Ivy also talks about how she's worried Nonnie will flip out on Baby William or harm him, but both girls are gone working all day. I'm just not sure if he should remain there. Having said that, who knows if a foster home would be better or worse? There are lots of loving and caring foster parents out there, but there are also people doing it for the wrong reasons and bad things can happen to kids in foster homes, too. It's a tricky situation.

    I could NEVER do that job.
    Amanda

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  • I am running around all day but will get to a computer tonight to give my answers

    Great questions @pinottoparenthood‌ !
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  • @jdubb13 Brenna is the person who tells the first chapter... who goes to see the girls' names in the closet.

    I actually had heard about the eugenics thing before with the sterilization, probably because I live in NC. I remember talk about compensating people for this fairly recently. It really is crazy... especially since it really wasn't THAT long ago!

    I feel like Robert puts a lot of unfair pressure on Jane to meet his expectations as the "ideal" wife; however, I also think that it goes both ways. It doesn't seem like she's making that much of an effort to get to know the people in his life or fit in in his life at all. I think for a marriage to work, both people have to be willing to compromise, and neither Jane nor Robert is willing to bend. I also think that the author is really painting Robert to be an unlikeable character so far, which makes me think that maybe their marriage won't work out. I do think that Jane is getting out relatively unscathed in the eyes of the reader and I'm not sure that's fair. She KNEW what his life was like when she married him, and she shouldn't have married into that lifestyle if she wasn't willing to make some attempts to combine/mesh their lives together.
    Amanda

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  • Kate_CKate_C member
    Baby William: I have to believe foster care would be an improvement over the neglect he suffers. Love isn't a cure for everything. Ivy is the only one who is really capable of caring full time for a child and she has to work. His family is just barely staying afloat in a brutal life. He deserves a chance at more.

    Sterilization: the lack of consent for someone capable of giving it really concerns me. I don't think it should be secretive. But what about someone who is severely disabled and cannot consent - either to sex or sterilization - due to lack of capacity? Should a guardian have a right to consent for that person? In that sense, Mary Ella is "borderline" according to the social workers and Nonnie consented for her. Not saying I agree with that, but I do think the issue is more complicated than at first blush, if you look at it from a pregnancy prevention standpoint rather than genetic cleansing (eugenics).

    Robert: like @pinottoparenthood‌, I think Jane isn't taking enough blame for their marital issues. She knew he didn't want her to have a demanding career and that he expected her to try to fit in his circle. She probably did not anticipate how her job would evolve, however. But I also think it was really unfair of her to use BCP without telling him. Doesn't he have some say in the decision to have kids, especially since he was so much older than her and probably felt his own biological clock ticking?

    Other than the tendency to make Jane seem too saintly, I really like the book!
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  • 1) What are your impressions of Charlotte? What kind of social worker is she? Do you believe she is truly helping her clients? How do you think Jane will compare/stack up now that Charlotte is gone?

    As someone else said already, I think she's a good person with good intentions, but jaded from years on the job. So far I've disagreed with how she's handled most situations, but she probably is doing what she knows to be best. I don't think Jane is cut out for the job, so I'm interested to see where it takes her. I think she is too much of an idealist, and it seems like she could get into some difficult situations and not have the know-how to handle them.



    2) What are your reactions to the Eugenics board/the sterilizations? Is it ever okay to do this to someone?

    I just finished reading (got the book today!) so I haven't looked into it, but I can't believe this was done! Never ok for a caseworker and a board to decide to do this to someone! Especially a young woman. What a shameful way for the government to curb spending on welfare.

    3) Do you think Jane will go through with getting Ivy sterilized? Why/why not?

    I don't think she will go through with it. It seems like the case for it is so weak anyways, but also that Jane is morally against it. I bet Jane will tell Ivy about it.


    4) What do you think of Jane and Robert's marriage? Can it work out?

    It doesn't seem like they know each other very well. I believe she said it was only a year since they met and they obviously want different things in life. It's not going to work out.

    5) Mr. Gardiner - do you like him? Are his judgments fair? Is he a good person at heart?

    Not sure if I read far enough... I stopped after chapter 13 and I don't believe he's made any judgements yet :)

    6) Any ideas about who Brenna is, how she's connected to the story, and why Ivy's and Mary Ella's names are in the closet?

    I'm guessing Brenna is ivy and Henry Allen's daughter or granddaughter and that ivy is already pregnant. Maybe the closet is in the farm house?


    7) Should Baby William be placed in foster care? Why/why not?

    This is a tough one... His mother and aunt obviously care for him, but they aren't around most of the time. I know plenty of children survived in the pat without being watched as vigilantly as most are now, but thinking of a two year old getting lost in a tobacco field horrifies me! I think he needs to be with a responsible caregiver, and if Nonnie isn't doing that, then he should be put in foster care. It sounds like he's being neglected during the day, and cuddles from his mother at night aren't going to make up for that.
    ~Eme's mama, SAHM, BF, BLW, CD~

  • Okay so I finished the book and now I am super more seed with the questions I chose! Let me know when you guys want to discuss the rest of the book.... Friday? In two Fridays? Should we just discuss the next 100 pages next?
    Amanda

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  • cfattigcfattig member
    I was out of town all weekend, but wanted to weigh in. First off, I'm loving the book so far. I'm having a really easy imagining all this.  I'm on page 175, so should no problem finishing it by Friday.


    Brenna....I've been thinking about who she is from the start. I think she is Ivys daughter. With all the talk about Ivy getting pregnant, I think it's pretty inevitable she gets pregnant, and something serious is going to happen between them and the Gardiners, which is why they were in the closet at the farm house at some point (the closet was in the farmhouse, right? Or am I imagining that?).

    The Eugenics thing is bizarre....like others, I'm a little in disbelief that that actually happened.....especially because I would think that most of the people in social work would have similar beliefs/morals as Jane, and would not necessarily be in full support of a program like that.  I could be on board with giving a girl like Mary Ella a more long term form of birth control (though I know back then the technology wasn't there), but searching for a reason to justify permanently sterilizing someone leaves me feeling icky.  I think Jane is going to have to sacrifice quite a bit (perhaps career, social life, marriage) to stand up for her belief.

    As the book goes on, I am more and more not a fan of her husband.  He's trying to turn her into someone she isn't, and that only works for so long before they push back.

    I have an out there theory....I think Lita and Mr. Gardener might have something on the side.  Not sure if he fathered one of her kids, but I wouldn't be surprised. </div>

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  • @cfattig‌ - I'm with you on the Mr Gardiner and Lita thing! Avery is his (freckles).

    I'm around page 150, but I think I can finish it by Friday!
    ~Eme's mama, SAHM, BF, BLW, CD~

  • cfattigcfattig member
    @audreyjem oh for sure! Now that you say that, I remember Jane making a point of both of their (Gardiner and Avery) looks on separate occasions!

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  • 1) What are your impressions of Charlotte? What kind of social worker is she? Do you believe she is truly helping her clients? How do you think Jane will compare/stack up now that Charlotte is gone? Just like PPs, I believe that Charlotte thinks she is doing what is best for her clients; I think her views have gotten jaded.

    2) What are your reactions to the Eugenics board/the sterilizations? Is it ever okay to do this to someone? In 2014, there is no way a board like this could ever be present. I don't think in cases of mental retardation, poverty etc should prevent someone from starting a family if they want to; thats not what makes a good/bad parent. I think in cases of multiple incidents of child abuse, domestic violence, neglect etc. I think someone should be able to step in and make a decision that these adults obviously aren't making.

    3) Do you think Jane will go through with getting Ivy sterilized? Why/why not? Honestly, I don't think she has it in her. If she found solid evidence that it was necessary, maybe. But from the facts she has been given up to this point, I dont think so.

    4) What do you think of Jane and Robert's marriage? Can it work out?
    Their marriage is very indicative of what a lot of marriages were like back then; Jane just isn't willing to lay down and roll over like most women were. I like her spunk and her independence, she deserves someone who appreciates it as well. Although, it is pretty bogus that she takes BCP without telling him. Being who you are is one thing, but lying about it..not cool.

    5) Mr. Gardiner - do you like him? Are his judgments fair? Is he a good person at heart?
    He is too good to be true...there is definitely more than meets the eye with him

    6) Any ideas about who Brenna is, how she's connected to the story, and why Ivy's and Mary Ella's names are in the closet?
    No,  who the hell is Brenna!!

    7) Should Baby William be placed in foster care? Why/why not?
    Ugh. this one is so hard. Mary Ella loves him so much and you would like to think her love is enough but sometimes it just isn't. It would just break my heart for the 2 of them to be separated


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  • Now that I've finished, it's so interesting to see what everyone is saying! @cfattig the closet was in some woman's house that this mystery character, Brenna, went to visit at the beginning of the story.
    Amanda

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  • danuli8danuli8 member
    I'm a little behind--there were 17 holds on the digital copy my library has, so I put a hold on a physical copy. Hoping I can pick that up today, and then I will catch up on the discussion. Rock on, ladies!
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    [Deleted User]elbou
  • cfattigcfattig member
    Just finished tonight...can't wait to discuss! I LOVED this book. Has anyone read any of her other books? Are they this good?

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  • cfattig said:
    Just finished tonight...can't wait to discuss! I LOVED this book. Has anyone read any of her other books? Are they this good?
    I was wondering this myself!
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  • cfattig said:
    Just finished tonight...can't wait to discuss! I LOVED this book. Has anyone read any of her other books? Are they this good?
    I was wondering this myself!
    No clue!
    Amanda

    ******************************

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  • If everyone is okay with it, we will plan to discuss the rest of the book this Friday...

    Any objections?
    Amanda

    ******************************

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  • I'm way behind so I'm not reading the discussion but I'm kid free tonight so I should be able to catch up.
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  • danuli8danuli8 member
    @elbou @ceamac0127 @jdubb13 @audreyjem @cfattig @danuli8@melandjames14 @kara1204 @lifesgoodmom @bellabean76 @jthree @jenbee829 @sunflower92 @kate_c

    I came up with a bunch of discussion questions for ch. 1-13 of Necessary Lies. Please feel free to talk about some of the questions, all of them, or anything else you want to discuss! I just figured it would be good to have some jumping off points for discussion.

    1) What are your impressions of Charlotte? What kind of social worker is she? Do you believe she is truly helping her clients? How do you think Jane will compare/stack up now that Charlotte is gone?

    2) What are your reactions to the Eugenics board/the sterilizations? Is it ever okay to do this to someone?

    3) Do you think Jane will go through with getting Ivy sterilized? Why/why not?

    4) What do you think of Jane and Robert's marriage? Can it work out?

    5) Mr. Gardiner - do you like him? Are his judgments fair? Is he a good person at heart?

    6) Any ideas about who Brenna is, how she's connected to the story, and why Ivy's and Mary Ella's names are in the closet?

    7) Should Baby William be placed in foster care? Why/why not?

    8) Anything else you want to discuss?

    Again... you don't have to answer all 8 questions! Feel free to discuss whatever stood out to you or interested you!
    OK, finished the first section. I may not finish the book by Friday but I can definitely finish over the weekend, so discuss away and I will chime in when I get there.

    1) What are your impressions of Charlotte? What kind of social worker is she? Do you believe she is truly helping her clients? How do you think Jane will compare/stack up now that Charlotte is gone? Charlotte is pragmatic, and I like that about her. I do think she helps her clients and they are glad to have her in their lives. Jane will most likely win their trust eventually, but she is no Charlotte.

    2) What are your reactions to the Eugenics board/the sterilizations? Is it ever okay to do this to someone? This was not uncommon back in the 50s and 60s, but I think it is even more horrific than the KKK. Sterilization without consent is not okay. Ever.

    3) Do you think Jane will go through with getting Ivy sterilized? Why/why not? Nope. Too idealistic, and Jane has already voiced misgivings about it. She won't go through with it.

    4) What do you think of Jane and Robert's marriage? Can it work out? Hello, Divorce Court! No way. They will divorce. Jane is keeping a big secret (birth control) and Robert said, "Now that we're married, don't be yourself any more, 'kay?" This is a recipe for disaster.

    5) Mr. Gardiner - do you like him? Are his judgments fair? Is he a good person at heart? We haven't seen much of him so far. It's nice that he lets the Harts have a place to live and gives them extras. He seems okay. Mrs. Gardiner definitely seemed nice when Ivy met her at the corner store.

    6) Any ideas about who Brenna is, how she's connected to the story, and why Ivy's and Mary Ella's names are in the closet? I'm guessing Brenna is Ivy's daughter. Or maybe Jane's daughter. Maybe Ivy's and Mary Ella's names are in the closet because they were sent there as foster children? Or maybe Jane divorces Robert's sorry a$$ and then adopts them. I like that idea.

    7) Should Baby William be placed in foster care? Why/why not? No, I don't think so. Mary Ella clearly adores him. Why can't he get the extra attention he needs (OT and speech therapy as a start) at home while living with his mother? Of course, this being the early 60s, he will probably get sent away. Sniff.

    8) Anything else you want to discuss? I like the book, but I'm not as over the moon about it as many of you seem to be. It feels very chopped up with the different character focus of each chapter, and just as I get into the voice/worldview of one person, the chapter ends, and then I get tossed back to someone else. And I'm dreading finding out about the horrible accident that killed Teresa, whatever it was. We're not very far in and there is already so much misery happening and waiting to happen. It's well written, but not really light reading. The other book I'm reading right now is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, LOL!
    image
    Over-40 parents...what we lack in vigor, we make up for with cunning.
  • Can't wait to discuss Friday! My dd started naps in her crib this week and I've had so much time to myself that I wasn't used to that I finished it in a few days :) Yay for naps!
    ~Eme's mama, SAHM, BF, BLW, CD~

    elbou
  • danuli8danuli8 member
    I also stayed up late last night and finished it. Ready to discuss!
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    Over-40 parents...what we lack in vigor, we make up for with cunning.
  • Okay so I'm still behind, only on chapter six.  I really like it so far and I'm really bummed I'm so far behind my first book with the book club.  So here are my excuses, Im full of them.  First is we are in the process of trying to sell our house which requires constant cleaning with a 1 and 3 year old.  Second is my cats been sick and we had to put her down today so I've been distracted, sad, cleaning up her messes, etc. 

    I'm excited to see everyones thoughts though so I will be checking in when I'm done it will just be late.

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