Monday, May 26, 2014

An Open Conversation on My Experience Rereading Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah (spoilers included)

I realized after finishing Firefly Lane that I could not do another nonspoiler review over this novel. I have too much I want to say that includes spoilers to do that. Although there will be parts where there are no spoilers in this post I would recommend reading the novel and coming back. 

As many of my long time blog followers know every since I read Firefly Lane last May 2013. I haven't been able to stop talking about the impact it has made on me. By the end of the year I knew I wanted to reread Firefly Lane sometime in 2014. 

I think one of the reasons I wanted to reread this novel was the connection I felt to TullyandKate. They became best friends on Firefly Lane in 1974 when they were young and carefree and would ride down summer hill with their arms out, sharing secrets. It was their friendship against the world. They had the dual dream of becoming TV journalists. Until one day Kate realized that was not her dream. It was Tully's. Kate followed her friend through most of their college years into their early 20s. Things changed when Kate married Johnny Ryan. The guy she loved, but could never get over the jealously that Tully had him first. 

After Kate's marriage and the birth of her baby girl Marah Rose. Tully and Kate's life took different paths. Kate was happy being a stay at home mom while Tully was still hungry for acceptence. Tully continued to climb in her career while Kate tried to find meaning in her life. As they grew older their friendship suffers its ups and downs, but when they needed each other they were there for each other. 

Kate is the character I relate to the most. She spent most of her adolescent alone with books as her only friend. Although I didn't spend high school alone with no friends it felt that way because I knew once we got out of high school most of the friendships would end and I was right. Kate was desperately alone until she met Tully. Kate revealed in having a best friend so much that she was afraid to have her own dreams. Tully dream of becoming a journalist became Kate's dream also until Kate discovered that she didn't want to climb the ladder of success, but wanted a much more simple life. Kate married Johnny Ryan and they had their daugther Marah. Kate loved motherhood and although Marah was a difficult baby Kate was determined to be the best mother possible. She want to constantly be by her daughter's side and watch her grow. They wanted more kids, but Marah was 8 before Kate fell pregnant with the twins William and Lucas. Kate traveled into the teenage years and boy it wasn't an easy time with Marah constantly trying to break her down. Kate was always searching for some sort of meaning in her life. Was she wrong to give up her career? 

I related to Kate so much because her dreams were so simplistic. I don't often tell people, but everybody who know me know I have dreamed of being a mother my whole life. Not saying I want to grow up any faster than I already am, but kids have always been apart of my future. I hope the guy I meet feels the same way. 

Towards the end of the novel Kate is diagnosed with stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer. The first time reading the novel I though Kate's illiness consumed the novel. This time I found it rather shocking that it came about when there weren't too many pages left in the book. Kate's cancer still felt like a lifetime. I had to watch a character I fell in love with die. It ripped my heart out just the way it did the first time. 

Then there is Tully. Tully Hart had an abnormal childhood. Her mother, Cloud, abandoned her and she lived with her grandma for most of her life. She grew up never feeling loved or accepted and that hurt Tully more then she would show. The Mularkeys became her family in her youth and later the Ryans in womanhood. Tully had a dream of becoming a TV journalist and she wasn't going to stop at any length to complete that goal. Even when Tully had everything she could ever dream of she still felt like something was missing. She didn't have a husband or kids. She just had a mother who abondoned her and her best friend Katie. 

The two words that best describe Tully are brave and selfish. Tully went to great lengths to become a broadcast journalist and that is what makes her brave beyond belief. The dreams Tully holds in her heart despite her abandonment is what makes Tully special.  I would love to have some of her spunk and courage for life. Tully is selfish because the only person she ever truly loves is herself. She does not tell a single person that she loves them until her best friend Kate is dying. Through the years Tully and Kate had their fair share of arguments. In a thirty year friendship it is to be expected, but Tully kept the words I'm sorry locked up inside of her again until Kate was dying. Tully never wanted to admit she was wrong and reconcile the friendship herself. Kate had to always be the one to apologize. What Cloud did to Tully was wrong and it messed Tully up in many ways, but the thing Tully could have done is picked up the phone and told her best friend she was wrong. This is one of the reasons Tully is such a hard character to understand. Even with the whole world as her stage Tully is still looking for acceptance from the one person that will never give it her mother Cloud. 

One thing that hit me hard this time around is the separations. I noticed this time around how much the separations affected their friendships. Even though they are able to reconile and forget their friendship was continually changing through their ups and downs. Kate was not jealous of Tully's success, but she did wish for more in her life. She also wishes that Tully was stop trying to be a parent to Marah. Tully on the other hand wasn't jealous of Kate's life, but she was starting to realize that the only thing she really had in her life that was important was her career. She didn't have people that were waiting for her to come home at the end of the day like Johnny did. 

The second time through I think I connected to Tully and Kate at even more personal level, which is why the ending was once again hard for me. I thought I wouldn't cry the 2nd time around because I had already been through this story. I knew the ending was sad. As I approached the last page when Katie's funeral was held I began to cry. I related to these characters. I fell in love with these characters. While I couldn't always explain Tully's action. I understood Katie's actions. With Katie, the center of the family gone, they are left to struggle through the world. 

I especially relate to Marah losing Kate. I had a friend who lost her mom suddenly in a car accident during our Junior year of high school. I saw how much that effected my friend and changed her. She lost the most important person in the world. Marah's grieve even while Kate was alive was very real. 

"I know you'll be thinking that I left you, but it's not true. All you have to do is remember Firefly Lane and you'll find me. There will always be a TullyandKate." (Firefly Lane 478). 

Kate's last words to Tully are what really made me tear up even after her death and through her cancer Kate continue to be the best friend she could be. She said that her family would find a way to move on, but she worried about Tully. She reassured her that she had not left her. Tully had watched everybody walk away from her whole life. Kate had always been there for Tully. She had always loved and cared for Tully. Kate never walked away from the friendship. Even after their estrangement Kate let Tully come back into her world. Tully was full of regrets for missing out on this time with Kate, but I think it was important that they were able to reconcile and spend the last months of Kate's life as friends. 

Memories are important in life. Every single one of us has happy and sad memories. The thing about when a person dies is that you forget the bad memories and just remember the good ones. Tully needed to remember Kate and help Kate's family through those hard times. There is a place or an item that always makes us remember the ones we have lost. I think of my grandpa every time I look at our sandbox in the backyard. My grandpa built that sandbox for us as kids and it always has been a fond memory. Rubric cubes also bring back the memory of my grandfather because he is the only person I knew that could solve them. I still can't. For TullyandKate all their memories were summed up in two words. Firefly Lane. The time where they would young and carefree. TullyandKate was just one word and they were known as the Firefly Lane girls. Although life must go on without Kate, her memories will always be very much alive. In the faces of her children, her grieving husband, her best friend Tully, and down on Firefly Lane. 

I have so enjoyed rereading Firefly Lane. I don't think this is my last time reading this novel, but I do know this is my last time reading it for a few years. I think Firefly Lane is going to be one of those great comfort reads. Whenever I'm going through a rough time I can pick up Firefly Lane and get lost in TullyandKate's world. I think coming back to this novel in motherhood I might see it in a different light. I didn't ever think I would find a book that I would want to reread over and over again, but Firefly Lane is that book. I enjoy getting lost in this novel and it was so worth the journey of rereading the novel. What a ride. I relate to a lot of this novel and I think anybody who reads it will relate to something. I'm going to continue to recommend this amazing novel. 

*ps I cried while writing this review also*

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