We have reached the end of week 1 in our community wide readalong of Tananarive Due’s The Between. We will be reading The Between through February 24 so you still have time to jump in and join us. (Check the full readalong schedule for all of the details.)
Please be aware this week’s discussion post will contain spoilers for the first 10 chapters.
The Ladies of Horror Fiction team has come up with some discussion questions, and we’d love to hear your thoughts as well!
1. Why do you think writers so often place ‘do-gooders’ as coming from a traumatic experience? Is there a belief that some people just don’t do good things unless they’ve experienced bad shit?
Emily: I think that Hilton is a bit different than the standard person doing good things…he’s an overachiever & his good deeds almost cost him his marriage. His situation seems to be more about going overboard trying to atone.
Tracy: I think that, generally speaking, it’s hard to find a person that does good deeds without having some underlying reason. Guilt, poor childhood, trauma, paying it forward, etc. in Hilton’s case I agree with Emily – his overpowering desire to effect change / “do good” is actually harming him and I think it stems from some desire to “pay back” or “pay forward” what Nana sacrificed so he could live.
Lilyn: I think writers give do-gooder sad backstories to make them a more appealing character. It’s like the dead baby trope in horror. Instant way to add sympathy for your character is to make sure it’s clear they went through something horrible in the past.
2. Did you feel judgmental toward Hilton, or do you think this is normal marriage stuff?
Emily: I felt a little judgmental toward Hilton for openly flirting with the girl he was helping while he was supposed to be at his wife’s event. Once again, he’s putting his family second to his “good deeds”. I think he has some boundary issues – he’s involved in her recovery, yet tells her he would sleep with her if he wasn’t married.
Laurie: Yes, I will freely admit that his staying too long with the girl he was helping when he knew it was wrong and he was missing an important event for his wife didn’t sit right with me. It’s one thing to be attracted to a beautiful person, another to let your family down so you can flirt. It made him look like a bit of a dick if you want my honest opinion
Tracy: Hilton better watch himself. I get the attraction, I do. For me, the instance in which he says “if I wasn’t married” crosses the line into creepy jerk married man. Just my opinion
Lilyn: No, I don’t feel judgmental toward him. We all look. We all have thoughts. It’s what we actually do that matters. Yeah, he shouldn’t have said “If I weren’t married” but c’mon. I’ve looked at a few guys and girls and thought “If I wasn’t in a committed, I’d hit that.” Does that mean I’m ever going to act on it? No. I’m not gonna screw up stability for a quick roll in the hay.
3. What do you think happened to his grandma the first time? Do you think Hilton can heal things?
Emily: When Hilton talked about touching his grandma & then she was back to life a little bit later, it made me think that he might have some sort of healing gift. The second time he wasn’t able to touch her, and she was really dead that time.
Laurie: I think grandma died the first time. He said she was cold. I don’t know if he can heal things. I’m thinking there is some strange parallel universe thing maybe going on.
Tracy: I think she did die the first time. The description of the way her skin looked and felt was too detailed/creepy for it to just be someone who is unconscious. Lady was ice. And she was somewhat “altered” when she returned.
Lilyn: I think either the grandma wasn’t really dead OR there was some sort of supernatural stuff involved, but I don’t think it’s on Hilton.
4. How realistic do you believe the relationship between doctor and patient is between Hilton and his therapist?
Emily: Again, I think there are boundary issues. If Hilton wants to be best friends, the therapist needs to be more assertive about shutting Hilton down when he wants him to play therapist. I didn’t really think of it as unrealistic.
Tracy: Realistic? Sure. I think he’s crossing a line in seriously asking his therapist/friend to be his therapist again. It was beyond just asking a friend for help, I think. Me thinks he has issues with boundaries. Again, as Emily stated as well. Perhaps this will come into play with the boundaries between his nightmares and his real life as well
Lilyn: There are definite boundary issues, but I lay blame on both Hilton and the therapist. However I don’t blame Hilton for reaching back out to him to seek help either. You instinctively seek help from people that you know have helped you before. Especially if the groundwork is already there.
5. Do you think there’s some sort of parallel universe thing happening? (For example, maybe Nana died in one, but not the other, and then the therapist not having the hat that Hilton swore he had been wearing.)
Emily: Yes, I think there’s a parallel universe aspect. The little glitches mentioned in the question made me think of Fringe. I can’t wait to see what happens!
Laurie: Yes. Somewhere between sleep and wakefulness. Definitely. I hope I’m not wrong because that “definitely” will come back to haunt me
Tracy: See the end of my answer for 4. I think the title, The Between, will hold significance in regards to this question.
Lilyn: Well, with a name like “The Between” one has to assume there’s something funky going on, don’t they? and calling the space in between worlds/realms/life and death isn’t exactly a new thing.
Here are some of our favorite quotes from the first 10 chapters of The Between:
Hilton was seven when his grandmother died, and it was a bad time. But it was worse when she died again.
Hilton felt something changed, maybe forever.
So what the gifted old folks, the seers often say is true: Sometimes the dead go unburied.
We’re always closest to death when we’re asleep.
Do you think you can keep dying forever?
Do you have any favorite quotes from this section? We would love for you to share them!
We are very excited to have you guys reading The Between along with us. We would like to host another a giveaway as a thank you for joining in!
Prize: We will be giving away one copy of a horror book written by a woman author (to be announced at the end of the readalong!) to one randomly selected participant.
How to enter: Comment on our discussion posts throughout The Between readalong to be entered into the giveaway. You will receive one entry each week you join in. In your comment, share your thoughts on the current week’s section of The Between, share your favorite quotes, or post a link where we can find your thoughts on the current week’s section.