My Answers To Sister Discussion Guide

Yesterday I asked you to answer some questions about the book Sister by Rosamund Lupton.  There were 15 questions which I do not expect you to answer all of, but I wanted to challenge myself and answer all of the questions.  Please, if you do answer any or all of the questions on your own blog, then link up here so we can all read what you thought of the book.  And don’t forget we are reading What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty for next weeks book club.  Again, that meets on Monday July 30, 2012 at 9 p.m. EST right here on my blog.  So get your copy of that book so we can discuss it next week (I hope, I’m on a waiting list with my library).

Sister Discussion Q&A

What were your initial theories about how Tess died? How would you have pursued the case if you had been one of the DIs?

I originally thought that Simon had killed Tess since he was the last one to see her alive.  If I were the DIs I would have pursued finding out who the father of Tess’s baby actually was by doing a DNA test.  I thought that was a pretty key thing discovering that the man she had claimed as the father couldn’t have been since he was not a CF carrier.
How does Bee’s and Tess’s relationship compare to the way you and your siblings interact? What causes the most disagreement between you? What brings you together, no matter what?

I only have one older brother and over the years we have drifted extremely far apart to a point where now we really don’t speak.  We do live in different states so there is that distance (although not an entire ocean between us) like between Bee and Tess, but I think that’s honestly where our similarities end.

The disagreements between me and my brother are mostly caused by my brother’s inability to see me as wanting to help him.  And well probably also caused by a huge amount of mistrust on my part and still a lot of anger over things that happened in our childhood.

In the past my brother always seemed to call me when he was drunk.  So I suppose alcohol used to bring us together.  Now, it’s probably my sister in law.  I speak to her relatively regularly so I know what’s going on in my brother’s life and I assume she tells my brother about mine, but my brother and I haven’t spoken in months since he decided to invite me and my four children to his wedding reception, but not my husband.  For me that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back in his disrespect for me.  I will always love and want to hear about my niece and niece/nephew to be though so at least I am still able to communicate with my brother’s wife.
What did the sisters’ mother teach them about motherhood and being a fulfilled woman? What did she teach them about love?

This is a tough one for me because I got the impression that when times got tough for the mother of the sisters she sent them off to boarding school.  And maybe she wanted to spare them her pain, but I had a hard time seeing what she taught them about motherhood.  As far as being fulfilled, I don’t really know that she felt fulfilled.  I guess I just didn’t get much of a sense of the mother character in this book.  I think she taught them that the love of a man is fleeting so don’t invest too much of yourself into one man.  That’s the impression I got from how the sisters treated relationships with men anyways.
How did their father’s absence affect the way Bee and Tess felt about men?

For Bee I think her father’s absence is also why she wouldn’t give all of herself to a man.  For Tess, I think she longed for a father figure which was why she ended up with an older married man.  She was looking for a man to take care of her in the same way her father did which was why she fell for the man that she knew deep down would never really be able to fully give himself to her.
Both sisters are involved in creative fields, even debating typefaces in their e-mails. What does Tess express in her paintings? Is there any room for self-expression in Bee’s commercial design work?

I think Tess expresses her fears and inner most desires in her paintings.  And I do think Bee expressed herself in her work, or a part of herself.  The part of herself that she let most people see being the neat and together Bee.
Do you think Bee discovers anything new about her sister in a deep way-for example, when she meets her landlord, Amias, and friends Kasia and Simon? How much of what Beatrice discovers is about herself?

I think Bee learned that her sister wasn’t as irresponsible as she thought she was.  The things that Bee found to be silly little quirks about her sister actually had a reason.  Her wardrobe in the sitting room for example because of the way the light came into the bedroom and she needed more room.  I think that Bee discovered that her always having to have the finest of clothing and the best haircut didn’t make her as a person any finer or better.  That someone like her sister could spot those qualities in an instant.  Bee also discovered that while she thought she was holding things together with her family even from a distance that her moving to NY was her running away while her sister was left there facing the family drama head on.  Going to be with her mother every year on their brother’s birthday.  Not just sending a card and some flowers, but physically being there.
What does the novel say about resilience, both physical and emotional, and where it comes from?

I think this book is proof that with the help of the people who truly know us the most we can be resilient in any situation.
How does the memory of Leo affect the Hemming family?

Leo’s memory is what all of the Hemming family’s fears are all wrapped up in.  The fear of losing those most important to them and the fear of being sick.  But the way Leo’s life ended was also a huge part of why Bee knew that Tess never would have killed herself because of their brother’s love for life even when he was his sickest he fought to hang on as long as possible.  So for Bee that meant Tess would never take her own life no matter what was thrown at her.  However, for their mother it was very clear that the memory of Leo was still very much front and center in her life because she seemed pained that Tess would have named her baby after Leo.  The mother was still grieving the loss of her son all those years later and now had to add the loss of a daughter and grandson to her list of people to grieve for.
Though Bee acknowledges that she and her sister are not devout Catholics, how does their Catholicism affect their view of the world (in an Anglican nation no less)?

Their Catholicisim let them believe in a life after death.  That their bodies are mare vessels for their soul.
Why was Tess drawn to Emilio, and Kasia to Mitch? Would you have been more attracted to Todd or to William?

I think the draw of Tess to Emilio was the older fatherly figure that he was.  And even though he treated her cruelly I think in his art he made her feel like she was beautiful.  Kasia’s draw to Mitch might have been similar to Tess’s draw to Emilio.  It was a man she thought would protect her.

I wouldn’t have been attracted to either Todd or William.  Todd came off as dismissive to me and while William was kind he seemed arrogant.  Besides, I married “The Bad Boy” who’s actually a great big teddy bear, but neither Todd nor William come off at “The Bad Boy”.
Discuss the novel’s structure. How did it affect you as the narrator referred to Tess as “you”? What was your understanding of Mr. Wright and his role?

Honestly, the structure of the book was the one thing that bothered me.  There was a lot of back and forth from past to present and I found it hard to tell when she was writing to Tess sometimes.

I think Mr. Wright’s role was to keep things moving along on a timeline, but I think the constant jumping to Mr. Wright just ended up being a way to extend the suspense.  Which it did do, but I found it to be annoying.
Dr. Nichols, Professor Rosen, and William all inhabit the world of diagnosis and treatment. How do their three different roles (and mindsets) reflect the realities of modern medicine?

Dr. Nichols and William were both clearly doctors working in a system with too many patients and not enough doctors which is very real to modern medicine.  Professor Rosen however not actually working with patients, but being an example of a modern medical professional who cares more about his work than actual people.  The safety of his trial meant more than finding out who was messing up his trial.  I like to think that all of their actions are not universal examples of modern medicine, but just examples of a few extremists in a group who have been jaded over the years.  Whether it be by being overworked or under appreciated.
Though Chrom-Med is a fictional company, what real-life questions about gene therapy are raised by the novel? What is the ethical way to apply humanity’s knowledge of the human genome?

The question about whether or not we are creating designer genes so people can be the most beautiful and intelligent.  If we are to use gene therapy ethically then we need to run trials by the book.  Only using what we know about genes to cure disease and not to affect the intelligence or strength of people.
Discuss the novel’s stunning closing scenes. What do you predict for the aftermath?

The end of the book definitely left a lot of questions going forward.  Did Bee get rescued?  Is she in a coma writing this story in her head?  Is it her soul because they did not get to her in time?  I think she was rescued.  Her story forever only told in her mind.  I think they did find William and there was justice for Bee and Tess in the sense that he was caught.
In their e-mail exchanges, Bee and Tess argue about what is safe and what is reckless. Which sister’s temperament is closest to your own? What is your definition of a life worth living?

I think I relate most to Bee.  I’m careful and cautious and probably judge people a little too quickly.  But to me a life worth living is one where you are loved and respected by everyone who means the most to you in the world.

Phew, some of those were hard for me to answer.  Now I can’t wait to hear how your views of the book differed from mine.  Remember to link up here.

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