Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lottery - First Discussion in our Book Club Blog

Today, we kick off the first in our book club blogs on Lottery by Patricia Wood As this is a book discussion that, I hope, will delve intricately into the plot and themes, I want to warn you all ahead of time. If spoilers are the type of thing that will keep you from reading a book, please pick up a copy and read this one first, and then come back and visit if you like – this isn’t a book you want to miss and hearing what readers thought won’t replace the experience. If in depth discussion ahead of time doesn’t ruin the reading experience for you, grab your coffee and hang out a bit... oh, yeah, I think I’m serving cyber wine, cheese, and crackers... and away we go!!!

For me, narrowing down the discussion topic to one thing was harder than it looked back when I finished the book. The writing is simple and forthright, and deceptively full of insight. The first thing that I’d like to touch on is perception of success. I think the idea of both monetary success and mental acuity are both given poignant precedence through the eyes of Perry.

In Perry L. Crandall, we have a main character with an IQ of 76. This number has defined him for most of his life, both in his own thoughts and by the outside world. To Perry, that number is proof positive that his is not retarded. To his brother cousins, teachers growing up, and school mates it is an indication that Perry is not as smart as they are or not able to function in their world.

Perry and his Gram are simple people. It’s quite clear that they are not well off financially, but it’s just as clear that they are happy with what they have. There are a lot of characters to like in this book, and I do love Perry, but Gram is by far my favorite even though she dies early in the book, a death which is really the catalyst to Perry’s own independence, her presence is still felt throughout in Perry’s recollection and in his own mode of living his life. Through Gram we see a no nonsense voice that, for all of her gruff insight, is the marker by which Perry learns to distinguish moral character. Throughout his life, she’s built routines that are geared so that he will be able to function without her when she’s gone. She has also, we find, held a good deal of information to herself, such as the reason for their loss of Gramp’s business. I like to think she took these heartaches internally, so Perry wouldn’t be burdened with them. Still, she did not bury it like it didn’t happen; she helped Perry to make lists, so that he would be guarded in some way against the people who might take advantage:

“...There are people you listen to, and others you don’t. You have to be able to tell the difference.” Gram slaps the kitchen table hard with her hand and makes me jump.
“Like who?” I ask.
We make a list.”

We find a distinct difference between the way Perry is treated before his Lottery winnings and after. The possible exception to this being Keith and Cherry. Gary, his boss at Holsted’s, is distinguished early as a person of character and one Perry can trust (he made the list). But even Gary learns a bit more about Perry and starts to see him in a different way; as an asset to the business. However, in this case I view the change as more in line with Perry’s own growth as a person rather than society’s view of him once he has a fortune.

I love the way the time old moral lesson of worth being determined by more than your bank balance comes into play in this novel. We become familiar with relatives who would gladly take everything Perry has without a second thought.

The characters of John, David, their wives and Perry’s own mother, who he calls Louise, are a firm contrast to Perry’s moral fortitude. These characters have all of the financial trappings that society holds in esteem. They are professionals whose mental prowess far surpasses that of Perry, and they each hold these facts as evidence that they are superior to him... So superior, in fact, they do not even claim him as family unless they need to take something from him. While this is infuriating to the reader, it also serves to bolster our own sense of right and wrong.

Yes, these characters have the money and professional resume. Yet, they are constantly miserable, nasty creatures. And, we find as we examine their lives a little more intently, even with their vast earnings they are in debt. They look down on Perry, but Perry has a better life and it’s not because ‘ignorance is bliss’ it’s because Perry puts the priority on being a good friend and a good person and doing his best.

I’m going to turn the discussion over to you now. I’m not sure what the next theme will be that I cover, but there will be a second posting in the next few days, after the readers have had a chance to comment and move the discussion forward.

What did you think of the portrayal of these characters in deference to their perception of success? Who did you find the most fascinating? Who did you find the most despicable? What in this book resonated with your experiences in life?

40 comments:

ORION said...

Your handy dandy author is ready and waiting...

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Patricia!

Thanks so much for stopping in. I'm not sure when in the day your readers will be coming by to comment, but you can stop back sporadically to check comments and answer any of their questions or just add to their insights.

Kathy, the Bloghore said...

Finally! I've been waiting here on eastern time for you guys to get started! LOL! I think I mentioned, numerous times how much I have loved this book. I've lent it out (stupid thing for me to do) already so I don't have it sitting in front of me. First off Merry, thank you so much for recommending Lottery. I have to agree. Narrowing down a discussion topic is difficult but the topic of a person's perception of success is such a good one, especially since we are right in the middle of that time of year. The Christmas season is one where I think alot of people feel that more is better. I don't think we could have picked a better time to read Lottery.

I did write in my blog and quoted from Lottery my absolutely favourite part of the book.
"Per's not retarded. He's slow. That's different than retarded"
"What's your number?" I ask Marleen. My hands are shaking.
She looks confused. "You mean my phone number? What do you mean?"
"No. Your number. My number is 76. I am not retarded. What is your number?" I ask.
"I don't know my number."
"Ha!" I say. "Then how do you know you're not retarded?"

In my humble opinion, those few lines say so much about Perry. It makes me wish I had been there, sitting with the 3 of them, Perry, Keith and Marlene. I would have been so proud of him.

I have to get back to work, but I'll be back later today to see how the discussion is going and to add some more thoughts.

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Kathy,

I'm not sure how quickly the discussion will pick up, I've noticed a lot of the blog-o-sphere slowing down lately, probably due to work and personal obligations and the coming holiday... they'll make it in I'm sure, but I'm thinking it will be over the course of a few days...

I love that section of the novel and I laughed out loud when Perry said it! I think the funnest part of these characters is that the ones you root for, the ones who are truly good and pull both your respect and admiration, are the same ones society would step around. The girl with neon hair and piercings, the alcoholic with the potty mouth, and the man with the low IQ...

My brother tried to steal my copy but I wouldn't let him have it! He's been reading it whenever he stops by, though... My best friend and my mom in law are both getting copies for christmas.

ORION said...

You know one of the things I tried to do was to show the non-linearity of intelligence. Merely placing a number value on IQ (if there is such a thing) is so bizarre if you really think about it. How can we prove our intelligence? The ability to learn should not have a "time" qualifier...i.e. completing a test in so many minutes. Many of my cognitively challenged students could complete tasks if given more time.

Sun Singer said...

I thoroughly enjoyed "Lottery" and want to thank you, Merry, for calling it to my attention by starting a new Book Club Blog. Your summary of the book is excellent. My feelings about the themes and characters closely approximate yours.

Several things stood out:

(1) The importance of establishing the appropriate "tone" for Perry. Early on, the author establishes a "cadence," so to speak, that shows Perry's thought patterns. She succeeds in doing this without discounting the character even though some of the simple logic has a humourous side to it.

(2) Gram, I think, "made" the book from her list making to her catch phrase "Don't be smart." Even after she dies, she remains Perry's conscious, anchor, and beacon.

(3) The beauty of Perry's solution to his horrible relatives and their needs, is that they end up with just what they deserve while he did the nice thing, the right thing, and the compassionate thing. Many commentators on the typical lottery winner scenario say that many big winners soon end up broke because of guilt: they feel they don't really deserve the money. Perry dodged this syndrome while the rest of the family didn't.

(4) Perry's maturation, his new confidence arising out of the way he's treated when he has money, is a wonderful progression in the story. The author's familiarity with boats shows down to the spirit of what it feels like to sail; she brought back many memories of my own youth aboard an O'Day Day Sailer.

Beautiful book.

Malcolm

Anna Hamilton said...

I loved Lottery so much that I'm now dying for a second book to read from you. When can we expect one out, do you know yet? Can you tell us a bit about what you are working on or if you are working on another book yet? And if so will it be like Lottery at all? Thanks so much for writing this book Ms. Wood.

Merry Jelinek said...

Patricia,

You know in all of the mention on IQ number in my post and comments thus far, I failed to mention the real insignificance you noted in the book - and it did come across.

I love when a novel is both a unique experience and yet gives you better understanding of your own life - yours did this for me. I'm constantly telling my kids that they can be proud when they give their best effort, not by the grade. Each of my three have different areas they excel at and others they have to really try in... but having things come easy to you is not an accomplishment to be proud of, so that's how I correlated Perry's effort in learning - I loved especially how well versed his vocabulary was in the game of scrabble, because he worked on his words every day.

Hi Malcolm,

I'm so glad you liked it - this one was a real pleasure to share with people and I've had a lot of fun getting the word out where I can.

I, too, think Gram made the book - and I love how you put it, "Even after she dies, she remains Perry's conscious, anchor, and beacon."

It was especially hard for me to see the brothers clean out the house on Perry and leave him only $500.00.. at that point I really wondered how much of Gram's careful guidance would help him, but that list and her admonishments in his mind, really were a guiding light, always popping up at the right moment.

I have to say, in the end I like Perry's solution if only because it got them off his back... and they were always going to ruin themselves, no matter how much money they got. But I think what I really was happy with was that in the end he drew a line, and wouldn't let his mother have what was 'his' and what he earned.

And I love so many of the details Patricia gleaned from her own life, too. I've never sailed, but you do get the exact feel of things when Perry is on Diamond Girl or talking about sailing with Gramps. I thought it was a great representation of the type of reactions someone might get when they come into a great deal of money, too.

ORION said...

Thanks sun slinger. It was important to me to have the reader "sit on Perry's shoulder" and feel what he felt. I struggled with wanting the reader to "know" more than Perry did. I know some might feel the ending is saccharine but I felt it was so important to have Perry triumphant.
Anna-
Thanks- Yes I am working on my next book. I try not to speak too much about it while I work on the draft but suffice it to say it will be first person POV from a unique individual - as Lottery is.

ORION said...

Interesting fact: my husband lived on a small 27 foot sailboat in the ala wai harbor in Hawaii in the '70's when he attended college at UH.
His boat was named Diamond Girl...

Merry Jelinek said...

I just came from Patricia's latest blog and just wanted to point out, she's up for answering publishing, sailing, lottery questions, too. So if you writers or curious lottery players have a good one, you can always ask.

silken said...

merry-I love the way you have summed up the book here. And thanks Ms. Woods for stopping in w/ your comments and insights.

The story is very well written and it is obvious Ms. Woods knows what she is talking about-having worked w/ boats, and with people in these situations.

I had tons of mixed emotions while reading this book. At one point, early on, I almost stopped reading it (I have an adopted sister whose IQ may not be much higher than Perry's, but some of her choices are not along the lines Per makes....), but I got over that and over my emotional feelings and am very glad that I did finish reading it. I too love Per and Gram and how the heroes of the story are not the people that society today recognizes as heroes. And I LOVE the simple yet profound wisdom of Perry. I shared several excerpts from the book w/ my family. I especially loved how Perry works on his words faithfully every day and can win at Scrabble!! One part that really hit me is where Perry is shopping and getting confused about which line to go in (I borrowed the book from the library, so don't have it w/ me) but his statement really hit me "It's better to be rude than retarded." How often do we treat people that way and convey that message in a single day?

thank you for sharing this book w/ us. I can't wait to see what everyone else has to say...

Merry Jelinek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Anna,

I know your comment was addressed to Patricia, but I wanted to thank you for stopping in. I'm looking forward to her next novel, too, and I can't wait to hear something... bookmark her blog, I'm sure she'll announce there as soon as she's able.

Hi Stacey,

I'm so glad you stuck with it, and even happier you enjoyed it. I almost forgot about that, 'It's better to be rude than retarded', but it's so true - society overlooks so many things, but usually not the things that are out of your control... We judge on things that, in the grand scheme of things, just don't really matter.

Thanks for participating, I was looking so forward to seeing how you liked it. And thanks again for all of the wonderful promotions at your blogs.

Stephen Parrish said...

Some novels invite lingering; you think about them long after you close the back cover. That's been my experience with LOTTERY. Perry Crandall will live forever.

The story has many excellent traits, to say the least, but I want to emphasize one I thought was brilliant: we the readers hear Perry's relatives talking about him as though he weren't there. We get a complete, accurate, and articulate transmission of statements, some insensitive, some derogatory, as though Perry were merely acting as a tape recorder. Yet he hears what they say, he shares it without paraphrasing, without interpretation or comment, and we know he doesn't fully understand what's being said.

We understand what's being said, but the trustworthy (and loveable) reporter does not. This device, among many others too long to list, sets LOTTERY apart as a significant work of literary fiction.

Stephen Parrish said...

I almost forgot: I'm an Illinois Boy. Go Cubs! Go Cubs! Go Cubs! Please, Dear God, please, please, please don't send me to my grave before the Cubs win the World Series.

Kathy, the Bloghore said...

Yes! I almost forgot about Perry's continuous reminder (to us?) that he is an auditor. Although my perception was that he DID understand what was being said about him but somehow he had built up his defences so that it no longer had an effect on him...or did it? As an "auditor" (almost like a translator in my mind) he chose to hear the words but not feel them. Does that make sense?

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Stephen and Kathy,

What a fantastic way to forward the discussion... I'm going to say that I'm some where in the middle here, it was my perception that Perry hears everything, but doesn't understand all of it... but I do think the key is 'all of it' some of it he does understand, more than the speakers know, I think.

And I agree, this was a tremendous writing device, one that most stories wouldn't be privy to without Perry's particular vantage point, but one that works beautifully here.

I'd love to do a whole post on the writing of Lottery, and that may be my final post on the book club blog.

Oh, Stephen, as far as the Cubs, you're preaching to the choir.

ORION said...

I know that readers imbued Perry with more understanding than I intended and that's okay- for me it was a something I recognized in my classroom. I would give out the same information and every student came away with a different understanding of the same words. My intension was to show an incomplete comprehension and the fact that as auditors we can hear certain things but we do not necessarily comprehend them in their entirety. As readers of the brother's conversations we can be immediately suspicious of their motives where Perry would not-

tahn said...

I loved this book ad am anxiously awaiting another-hopefully about Perry. I felt like I knew the characters. When Gram died I cried, I felt so bad for Per. And I swear Keith is a friend of mine. Everyone was so real.
Thank you for writing an amazing book. I have shared it with many and recommend it to all!

Family Fun & Faith said...

Hi Merry and Patricia, I am so pleased to have the book discussions going again. I loved what we did at writing up, Merry and am hopeful this can be sustained over the days ahead.

I finished the book a few days ago and I had a bit different feeling about the book. I enjoyed the story, but there were so many instances when I reflected on the way our youngest daughter has fared in life that I could not say that I exactly enjoyed the book. But I can certainly say it made an impact.

We adopted a special needs child with, among other physical problems, has an IQ number only four points higher than Perry. She had lots of similar issues to deal with and I found myself wondering if I should have been more like Gram.

I identified with the idea that structure was vital to her success in her days as a school girl. She overachieved scholastically and earned a diploma. She "understood" that she was different and it yet she was not satisfied with the simple successes of life. She has, since graduating, made a series of bad choices and is bearing some scars that will never be removed. Add to that a diagnosis of schizophrenia and her life is not as pleasant as that of Perry.

In the book I wished that my daughter could have seen the good in those around her rather than wanting the more glamorous life. And people have been able to lead and use her the way Perry's family wanted to use him. I loved how Perry was able to see the value in Keith and Cherry, I wish our daughter had been able to see that clearly.

The depictions of others speaking about Perry in his presence is accurate, even we in her family sometimes did this to our daughter.

This personalization may not fit in your plan for the discussion, Merry, but that is a big part of my reaction to the book in general.

ORION said...

I think this is an important point. In my work with students who had cognitive challenges if they had a relative or mentor like my character Gram they exceeded expectations.
Perry obviously is a fictional character (as is Keith, gram cherry etc) I wanted to pose a "what if" question and allow the freedom to have Perry end up triumphant.
-- bad choices are something all our children make at some point in their lives regardless of IQ - I know my son did and I made some pretty abysmal choices myself (I'm thinking of first husbands here LOL)
But I noticed in my teaching that when we did not place arbitrary limits on a children's achievements they ended up surpassing our expectations...

Merry Jelinek said...

tahn,

I'm right with you - I didn't cry but I definitely felt things keenly throughout the novel.

FF&F,

First, don't apologize for going in a different direction at all... (I was going to comment back to Patricia on the topic of reader responsibility, because I think it's interesting, but it fits here, too).

I think we each, as readers, bring our own life and experience into a novel, so my perception and the author's intention may be two completely different things, but that doesn't make either experience more or less valid. I believe this both as a reader and as a writer. The most beautiful thing about literature is the fact that it is a fluid and ever expanding artform. I think the best authors, at least the ones I've read thoughts from on this subject, know and appreciate the fact that their readers add to the dimension of the story they've put on the page by their own personal analysis of the piece - in essence, my story is mine until I put it on the page, but once it's out there it belongs, at least as fully, to the reader.

I also thank you for bringing in your own personal vantage point to the discussion because I think it's an important one - a parent of a child whose ability is on par with Perry's is, I think, both a valid and intriguing position to understand. While each individual is a bit different, regardless of similiar mental ability, in this particular case I think it's more than fair to compare and contrast your daughter's experience with that of the character...

I'm hoping to see Patricia's response because I think it will be a very thoughtful exchange.

Thanks for chiming in, FF&F. I apologize if this was a difficult pick for you, Shelly, or Silken, though I hope you also enjoyed it as well. And I appreciate that you all wanted to participate and read this one, I may well have avoided an issue so emotionally charged for me - I think that shows a very open mind.

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Patricia,

We seem to have posted at the same time...

ORION said...

Merry we posted at the same time! LOL. I absolutely agree that the reader brings baggage into the literary equation. My intention was to challenge a reader to come into Perry's world. A parent who has a child with cognitive challenges already is intimately familiar with this world. It may be a paradigm shift- an alternate ending but a valid one none the less- They may feel much differently about my book then an individual who has never had this opportunity.

Merry Jelinek said...

Just a little note,

I'm going to post a secondary blog on this book club sometime tomorrow, this one will, of course, stay up if you want to comment here and keep the conversation rolling...

Tomorrow's discussion will be as a book club discussion, but I'd like to end the series with a discussion of the writing process and the techniques employed which I think worked so well (though, Stephen touched on this subject beautifully already)... it seems a fitting way to finish a book club here, as my usual blog topics are writing related... and because I'm interested.

Ello said...

I just wanted to pop by and say hi Pat hi Merry! You all know how much I loved Lottery and how my hubby who doesn't read at all loved it too! And how I've recommended it to everyone. Cheers!

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Ello,

Thanks for stopping in and for your great review and interview on Lottery! I ordered my copy within a few days of reading your post... and I usually put off recommended reading for a while because my tbr pile is always so high...

I hope the grading and Christmas preparations are going well - I saw your paca story go up, I'll be over soon to give it a good read.

Josephine Damian said...

Merry, I think it's safe to say that traffic is way down all across the Internet since most people are in holiday hell.

What's the next book up for discussion? Are you planning to do this once a month? A week?

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Josephine,

You know, I should have thought of that when I picked the date... that was back at the beginning of November and I was just thinking, oh it'll be mid December, before the whole hubbubb starts... I forgot how busy we'd all be cleaning and decorating and with the extra stuff for those of us with young kids... not to mention the professors and students I blog with... eeeek, final paper time is no joke, either.

We used to have a nice book club blog going over at the blogging community I used to blog at where we'd each take turns, so that's what I'm trying to initiate here. It's a bit harder with blogs scattered all about, rather than where everyone's on the same sight and can see the comments go up in their side bar...

Shelly Bryant has offered to host the next one, she should be stopping by one or all of these discussions at some point... And Kathy the Bloghore, who you'll find in comments here (and is also a great blog to check out) also offered to host one so, if she's still interested, she'll be up after Shelly.

I'll definitely host another here at some point, though, and I'll promote whoever is doing the next one in the cycle. They're a lot more fun with many participants.

This one has actually been excellent so far, and I'm looking forward to the next two posts - how often do you get a chance to discuss the book with the author? (Thank you again, Patricia, it's been great fun for me and I'm sure a lot of your readers)

Also, I like these type of blog activities because it gives you a concrete chance to both discuss and promote authors and books you really love... speaking of which, did you stop at Jaye's blog today? She just signed with Jonathon Lyons!!!

ORION said...

ello- Thanks! I find it really interesting how many men have written to me about how much they enjoyed LOTTERY. Most say the characters of Perry and especially Keith really resonate with them.

Sustenance Scout said...

"But I noticed in my teaching that when we did not place arbitrary limits on a children's achievements they ended up surpassing our expectations..."

Pat, this resonates with me as I've recently discussed similar issues with other parents (and on Lisa Kenney's blog) about boys and how they're treated in general, labeled early and often almost set up to fail due to assumptions and low expectations. Perry is so fortunate to have that one champion in Gram and then to have others close by who look out for him. I'm intrigued by the one parent's comments here about her daughter and some of the poor choices she made along the way that impacted her life so much. I know we see that in many of our own children, but for some reason had no trouble believing Perry would make the right choices the way he did. Maybe that's due to his insightful nature, the moral compass he's inherited from his grandparents, or simply because of his huge capacity to love and forgive. I wonder, though, if you've had anyone question or doubt his ability to behave the way he did? There's such a fine line there, I think.

Merry, great discussion! K.

ORION said...

scout- I have met many parents at my readings and who have emailed me and said that Perry's choices made perfect sense to them when they look at their adult son or daughter who has cognitive challenges- One woman wrote to say that her daughter has a motley collection of friends like Perry! Another had to laugh as the word definitions that Perry came up with reminded her of her daughter's take on things - so no - I haven't had anyone say that the character Perry is unrealistic or un authentic. He is based in part on my experience with students and is a composite of them.
There are some "grinches" that did not want a happy ending for Perry but Yanno...I'm the author and I WANTED a happy ending for him!!!!
It wasn't an accident. I knew literary types would want his sexual awakening and love for Cherry to be unrequited but I just decided consciously to end it happily...FYI I wrote it both ways and give it quite a bit of thought and CHOSE the happy ending.

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Sustenance Scout,

Thanks for stopping in and adding so much to the discussion. You know, I didn't read ff&f's comment as not believing Perry as a character, only that his own personal experience was so different that it was hard for him to enjoy the book. And I read a bit of him blaming himself for not being more like Gram, though I hope I only misread that because, as Patricia said, many kids take paths we wouldn't want for them, regardless of their mental prowess.

Hi again, Patricia,

The newest post is up and covers some of these same topics (love and loyalty) hope you enjoy it and I can't wait to see where the discussion goes from here.

Family Fun & Faith said...

No blame of self here Merry, as I honestly believe my wife and I did the best we knew how to do at every step. And the pride we had in watching our daughter succeed beyond what others predicted.

But you are right in that it is the later decisions she has made that give her a much different direction than Perry is the reason I did not "enjoy" the read.

Sustenance Scout said...

Pat, I LOVE the choice you made in the end and am so glad you went that route. Funny the feedback you get, huh?

Merry, I didn't think FF&F was questioning Perry's decisions, just wondering how other parents have reacted. I really appreciated his comments, though, and learned a lot from them. JER over at Look Me in the Eye recently posted a poem by a dad of a young Aspergian; I'm struck by the sincerity and willingness to share in this poem and in FF&F's comments.

Pat, sounds like with your teaching experience you knew exactly what to give Perry to make it all believable. Not an easy task! K.

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Sustenance Scout,

You know, I've seen Look Me in the Eye talked about a bit on different blogs, but I haven't made it over to the author's blog yet or read the book. I've been hearing such great things about it though, I think I'll be adding it to my tbr list.

It is amazing to me when people can share their personal experiences in such an open way that allows others a peek into their vantage point. Thanks for dropping in and the moving commentary. I hope you'll stick around for the latest post and the next one coming up in the series.

Shelly said...

Hi Merry,

Just to let you know that I have stopped by and am taking in the discussions. I am still very busy with a hectic travel schedule at the moment, and may not be able to leave good comments for the next several days. But I am reading, and it is such a great discussion here! It's exciting that Patricia is here with us for the discussion.

You've done a great job hosting this one!

Shelly

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Shelly,

I know your schedule's been hectic with travel... of course the blog will be up indefinitely, and you can always stop at Patricia's too, to ask questions or discuss the novel. I think she'll be popping back in from time to time though, too.

Let me know when you'll be posting the next book club blog information, too, so I can promote it here. We had a nice turn out for this one, maybe some of the readers would also like to participate in the next one.

Shelly said...

Ok... WAY late on this, but I did want to say a few things here.

I started reading a library copy of Lottery before one of my recent trips, and decided that the subject (as you mentioned above, it might have been emotionally difficult for me) needed to be taken at a time when I could deal with it properly... just in case we didn't get our happy ending. I am glad we got the ending we did, here, though. I could very easily have seen it turning out differently, but I like the direction this went. I love the contentment Per finds in life, and that it grows out of his decisions to put first things first, to value that which is really worth something — all that.

I finished reading the book when I got back to the US (just after Christmas), and have had a bit of time to think through it. I love the emphasis in the later stages of the book that "people should get what they want" and how Per got what he wanted, namely Cherry, the baby, being a businessman, etc. I thought that this is the real beauty of Per, that he places value on the really important things, rather than the fleeting satisfactions. And that, as the book so aptly points out, has nothing to do with either IQ or money.