Sunday, March 21, 2010

Characters' actions - How do they affect you?

Hmmm. . . . . .So what do you think about this?
While reading Tell me Something True by Leila Cobo, the main character, 21 year old Gabriella Richard is confronted by her grandmother and her cousin Juan Carlos about a man she has started to date; Angel Silva, son of an imprisoned drug lord. Gabriella is on her usual annual visit to Cali, Colombia to stay with her grandmother for a month. While there, Gabriella finds her late mother's journal and discovers her mother had had an affair while working in Colombia. Her grandmother knew about it but her father never found out about his wife's infidelity. Gabriella gets defensive when her grandmother tells her to stop seeing Angel as she fears for her safety.

Now, when her grandmother says she will have to tell Gabriella's father, she lashes out at her grandmother that if she does tell him Gabriella will tell him about her mother's affair and that her grandmother knew all about it and did not stop that. Gabriella up to this point had been somewhat of an inocuous yet likeable character. Right about now I'm not liking Gabriella too much. Not only is she willing to hurt her own father but she is not showing her grandmother any respect. This is how it went down:

"You tell him," Gabriella says carefully, "and I'll tell him that you knew about this Juan Jose character and my mother. I'll tell him how she had an affair wiile staying in your houre, and you let it happen. And that you didn't have a problem with."

The words spill out before she can stop them, and she is appalled at how awful they are.

She wants to grab them back, but now they hover in the hushed room and she can see them poisoning the air, physically attacking her grandmother, who suddenly looks to Gabriella like an old woman.
Okay, so she feels some remorse. Still, shouldn't a 21 year old have some more restraint and not act like a small child saying anything to hurt her beloved grandmother, especially when she is staying in her home? Maybe because I never knew any of my grandparents, ( they had all died by the time I was born) I feel people should show respect for theirs.

This is about one third of the way into the book. So far, Cobo has not shown me any of Gabriella's feelings about her discovery. I hope Gabriella can redeem herself in my eyes. Am I being unreasonably judgemental when it is just a fictional character? Have you read books where you did not approve or like a character's actions? Did it color your opinion of the rest of the book? Did it make you feel more empathy for the one who has been wronged?


  1. I'd have to finish the book to see if she redeems herself in order to say if I like her. We all say things we ish we hadn't. Here's my Sunday Salon

  2. No, it doesn't color my feelings about the book. It does make me decide what I feel about the character.

  3. I always wonder if the AUTHOR thinks it is right or wrong. Because sometimes there are no bad repercussions and/or the character doesn't change so you wonder if the author even thought it was a negative!

  4. I just reviewed a book yesterday where I liked the book - for the most part - yet I couldn't stand the main character. She's a writer who didn't check her source out and acted on the info she received - I'm not a writer or reporter but I kept thinking "How can you not check the source? The info is very damaging and you're publishing it." It was a distraction, to say the least. I liked the story enough to finish the book but I have to say, it's the thing I think about when I see the title. Too bad, really. Then I wonder, am I missing the author's point about something key?

  5. I think the girl IS being disrespectful although the snippet you gave seems to intimate she knew it was wrong. I think this is the kind of character that I might root for to find the error of her ways and do it before it is too late so she can try and make it up to her grandmother. I would imagine that Grandma must be so hurt but also would accept the apology as she obviously loves this misguided girl. I think you have to finish it, K, because it may show she becomes a better person for finding out she is wrong...or if not, then you have a good reason to dislike the character but maybe not the book???

  6. Rhapsody- you've hit a point I didn't consider. How do we know what the author thinks is good or bad behavior?
    Mary- it's hard when you just don't like the main character especially with something that sounds like a true character flaw.
    Bingo- I did finish the book last night and for other reasons having to do with Angel, (don't want to insert any spoilers here) Gabriella disappointed me yet again. The book was ok, certainly not a stellar read but it doesn't delve into Gabriella's feelings enough about her discovery of her mother's actions.

  7. Characters can drive me crazy too, but I'm not sure that she's out of line with this one. I have a niece who is 23 (and has a child) and she acts very immature like that.

  8. I agree with Rhapsody - sometimes I wonder if the author possesses any morals or values either. I like to show consequences for bad behavior in my books, but some authors do not - and some you wonder if they even know it was wrong.

  9. I can be pretty judgmental reading about characters as well. I try to see if they are going to redeem themselves before the end and that sometimes helps my opinion of them.

    That being said I feel, especially to a grandmother, you should show more respect but like you I lost mine before I got to really know them so I'd love to have some grandparents. At the same time, I know I've said hurtful things before I've thought about them and once they're out there, you can't get them back.

  10. There are lots of books that I haven't enjoyed because I have hated a couple of the main characters. Hush,hush is a definite. I could not stand Patch in it.

  11. I think if you aren't affected by the characters in some way, the author hasn't done too good a job!


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