What do Sal and Phoebe have in common other than the disappearance of their mothers?
Although they appear to have personalities that are polar opposites they are both struggling to make sense of their lives and the situation they have found themselves in. They are also both very scared of random bad happenings for no particular reason although Sal is aware that before her mother's disappearance she was not really afraid of anything. Both have feelings if guilt and wonder if they are to blame for their mothers leaving, feeling that if they had acted differently then their mothers would have stayed. Both also are finding the transition between childhood and adulthood confusing and are struggling to make some sense of it.
Do you think Sal's mother would have returned?
Sal's mother seemed like she was trying to find something in herself, not trying to escape what she saw in other people. She clearly adores her husband and her daughter and makes this plain in the postcards she sends home. She seems to be trying to find more in herself and it is likely that she would have returned to her family because she does not seem like the kind of person who would hurt those she loves on purpose.
How does the author tell two completely separate stories within one novel?
The author tells Sal's story by utilizing Sal to tell Phoebe's story. The central story in the book is Sal's road trip with her grandparents, following the route her mother took to Idaho and allowing the story of Sal's family to be narrated. As they travel Sal tells the story of the disappearance of Phoebe's mother which is simultaneously intertwined with hers, and completely apart from hers too. By telling a story within a story the author uses Sal as the narrator not just for her own story but for Phoebe's as well.
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