The Road to Atlantis – Part 2 (pages 48 – 97)

The Road to AtlantisThe Word On The Street’s Book Club discussion of The Road to Atlantis got started last week. Check out the conversation!

This week, book club leader Jenn has a few questions based on pages 48 – 97. Feel free to use these as a jumping-off point for any other thoughts or questions you may have too.


Welcome to week #2 of discussion for The Road to Atlantis by Leo Brent Robillard!

Thanks for your input and thoughtful reflection on the book so far … I think there is much to discuss in the coming weeks, and I look forward to seeing what you think through our discussions.

This week we will be looking at pages 48 – 97 (remainder of A City By the River).
Again, please feel free to ask questions and to discuss each other’s responses, keeping in mind a culture of respect for everyone’s opinions and beliefs.

Introduction:

There’s a definite progression in the story with these fifty pages or so, and some themes are starting to develop. By the end of this section, the story has developed significantly, and we have a much clearer picture of Anne and David.
If there is something in the book that isn’t mentioned in the discussion questions that interests you, by all means add it to the responses – I would love to read different interpretations.

Discussion Questions:

1. “He could not undo what was done.” Regret plays a big role in this part of the novel, especially regarding the idea of a “do over” (such as the memory with Nat and her parents in the Wal-Mart). How do you see regret as an influence on Anne and David and their present-day actions?

2. We are starting to get a picture of Natalie as a child – throwing a tantrum in the shopping cart, cutting her hair. Do we have as clear a sense of Matty? What is his response to his sister’s death? Why do you think that he is less detailed in the narrative at this point?

3. Both Anne and David are starting to form attachments with individuals of the opposite gender, but in very different ways. What needs do these fill for each person, and why have they chosen to connect with Sarah and Danny? By the end of this chapter, each person has indirectly influence significant changes in Anne and David’s lives – are they truly a catalyst for change or merely the last straw in a already heavy load?

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3 thoughts on “The Road to Atlantis – Part 2 (pages 48 – 97)

  1. I think that the regret/mourning goes hand-in-hand with the new connections that have been formed by both parents in this section. A part of me feels that maybe David starts to bond with Sarah because caring for her and helping her out gives him a chance to do something he’d wanted to do for his own daughter. He was missing a piece of himself after losing Nat but once Sarah started to work in his class he reanimated. He was excited about teaching and planning again, the empty “shell” that had been there before was gone. With Annie and her new connection with Danny, I think that stems from how she’s been feeling about her marriage, increasingly so since Nat’s disappearance. There were flashbacks from before and after the loss that mentioned how she felt that they were no longer intimate and her insecurities about herself regarding this. Danny is a chance for her to feel wanted again, sort of like validation that she is, indeed, still desireable.
    Regret also makes us do crazy things to escape it sometimes. Those choices aren’t alway the best, of course, but setting out minds to other tasks and people often helps to take our thoughts away from what’s happened. I think they’re both trying to cope but don’t feel comfortable communicating with each other about it (likely due to fear of placing blame, feeling blame, etc.). It all feels like one huge self-feeding and dangerous cycle, unfortunately for them.

    • I had a similar feeling about Anne and Danny – I wonder if Anne seeings in Danny what she used to see in David (confidence, intimacy, a sense of self-worth) and she is hoping to recapture that feeling.
      I do think that David genuinely doesn’t see how his relationship with Sarah might be seen as inappropriate because to him, Sarah is an echo of what he was supposed to have with Nat.
      The lack of communication is a huge thing for everyone – except at the end of the chapter, when everything finally comes out and change is now inevitable.

  2. I thought I’d posted this already. Apparently not! Here are my thoughts on two of the questions.

    2. We are starting to get a picture of Natalie as a child – throwing a tantrum in the shopping cart, cutting her hair. Do we have as clear a sense of Matty? What is his response to his sister’s death? Why do you think that he is less detailed in the narrative at this point?

    Matty is too young to understand death as we understand it, so to him, his sister “lives” in the last place he saw her – the ocean. Anne and David, busy in their own messy dealings with life and death, don’t seem to give a lot of regard to how his sister’s death is affecting Matty. and that, I believe, is why Matty gets “left out” of the story. He is left out of the story by the author in the same way that he is left out by his parents.

    3. Both Anne and David are starting to form attachments with individuals of the opposite gender, but in very different ways. What needs do these fill for each person, and why have they chosen to connect with Sarah and Danny? By the end of this chapter, each person has indirectly influence significant changes in Anne and David’s lives – are they truly a catalyst for change or merely the last straw in a already heavy load?

    Anne’s relationship with Danny at this point in the story doesn’t seem to play a huge part in her life. Started during a drunken night, it continues on with Danny falling in love with Anne and Anne just being there as if by default, because she is not clear enough about her own desires to know whether she wants the affair or not. She is dissatisfied with her marriage though, so having an affair gives her a reason to get out. I think Danny is a catalyst for change for Anne in that she is freed from David by being with Danny.
    David is attracted to Sarah, and sees something in her even if it was just that she was a pretty girl at first. David has no female figure in his life onto whom he can project his masculine caring and protection, and Sarah is an easy, convenient young girl in need of rescue. He rescues her by taking her out of a class she detests and by driving her home. He nurtures her leadership skills in his class, and it makes him feel valuable, happy. Ultimately this connection adds to his heavy load when he is accused of improper relations with Sarah, something he never indented or desired, so he is falsely accused and is devastated by this.

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