Clara Oates: Protagonist. The daughter of a well known novelist who gets sucked in a bad relationship and tries to get away and move on while searching for answers, forgiveness and herself.
“because words were hills and valleys you traveled, so lovely sometimes that they hurt your eyes.”
“But if fate is a shape-shifter, then love is too. It can be, anyway, in its most dangerous form. It’s your best day, and then your worst. It’s your most hope and then your most despair. Lightness, darkness, it can swing between extremes at lightning speed—a boat upon the water on the most gorgeous day, and then the clouds crawl in and the sky turns black and the sea rages and the boat is lost.”
“When you’re a person whose life has mostly brought good things, you believe in goodness. You believe that things will work out. Even the worst things will work out. You believe in a happy ending. But you are naive. The mostly good in your life has made you that way. You’ve spent so much time seeing the bright side that you don’t even believe the other side exists. You are wrong about that.”
“Routine is cement for some people, coziness made solid, certainty building more certainty. For others, routine cracks surfaces with its weight, creating a boredom that presses down and down until something breaks.”
“We sat there for a long time. He stopped crying, and there was only that heavy, heavy silence of things gone wrong. That terrible place you sit in when he’s done something awful and so have you, and you now are looking at the mess of regret all around. One thing different and you wouldn’t be where you are, but it’s too late. There’s nothing to be done except sit there until the pain lessens and you can move again, though the pain of that regret will stay with you for days. You carry it on you like an open wound.”
“A mind can’t seem to hold anything too crazy for too long without finding a way to make it seem normal.”
“The most true-love words are not ones that grasp and hold and bind you, twisting you both up together in some black dance. No, they are ones that leave you free to stand alone on your own solid ground, leave him to do the same, a tender space between you.”
“Something good, a good person, love, can be a great big bulldozer to bad things. It can shove aside a bad moment, or bad years.”
“You can forget that other people carry pieces of your own story around in their heads. I’ve always thought—put together all those random pieces from everyone who’s ever know you from your parents to the guy who once sat next to you on a bus, and you’d probably see a fuller version of your life than you even did while living it.”
“I realized that fear and guilt were both cheap and easy emotions, ready and always available, the salt and pepper to the more exotic herbs that took more effort to gather, like courage or determination or regret.”
“The words had been pressing at him from the inside for so long and long and long like words do, like secret shame does. Words must finally be said; they press their way out. Words came from his fingertips every day, onto pages that were read by thousands of people, but these private words, they stayed inside where they didn’t belong, building strength and weight, shoving harder until they were bigger than he was.”
“Even though it makes us feel better to think so, we can’t predict another person’s actions, not really. Another person is, at the heart of it, unknowable. And if you cannot know a person enough to always guess what they’re capable of, you certainly cannot know them enough to hold them in your hands, to control their behavior, to fight, manipulate, cajole or nurse or soothe them into doing what they should or shouldn’t.”
“Our memories and the events of our lives are untidy things. We wish that we could file them away and shut the door, or we wish the opposite—that they would stay with us forever.”
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