Leaving Eden by Anne LeclaireLeaving Eden by Anne Leclaire

Leaving Eden

byAnne Leclaire

Paperback | April 29, 2003

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“The promise of beauty—the kind of real, personal beauty that can transform a person’s life—arrived in Eden, Virginia, on the fourth Thursday in June.” That’s the day Tallie Brock sees the sign at the Klip-N-Kurl, the beauty parlor where she works part-time, sweeping the floor and refilling shampoo bottles, among other chores. (What she really enjoys is listening to the women chat, gossip, and buzz like a beehive.) The sign in the front window announces GLAMOUR DAY. For twenty dollars, a woman can receive a complete professional makeover—and a glossy nine-by-twelve-inch picture of the result.

For Tallie, the glam shot just may be her ticket out of Lovettsville. She dreams of someday going to Hollywood and becoming a Star. Her mother, who was the spitting image of Natalie Wood, used to say “the sky’s the limit.” In fact, her mother once left home to make a movie in Los Angeles. But she returned six months later without whispering a word about it—and tried to pick up her life right where she left off. Tallie noticed something different, though. And her mother’s best friend, Martha Lee, the plainest woman within miles, knew the secret that soon the whole town would discover. At the time, Tallie was just afraid her mother would get antsy and disappear again. She was only half right.

But that was four years ago, and now Glamour Day is fast approaching. While jotting down observations in her Rulebook for Living (such as “Women with fat faces shouldn’t wear bangs” and “Beetles signify change”), Tallie finds herself changing in unexpected ways—as she tests the limits of trust, explores her growing attraction to a boy from a family as rich as her imagination, and reaches for the sky like she has never done before.

By turns funny and tender, joyous and poignant, bestselling author Anne LeClaire has written a winning, stylish novel of small-town Southern life— and what it means to be a mother, daughter, best friend, wife, and lover.
Anne D. LeClaire is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Entering Normal. She is also a short story writer who teaches and lectures on writing and the creative process, and has worked as a radio broadcaster, a journalist, and a correspondent for The Boston Globe. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Redbook, and Yankee ...
Title:Leaving EdenFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:320 pages, 8.26 × 5.45 × 0.68 inShipping dimensions:8.26 × 5.45 × 0.68 inPublished:April 29, 2003Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345445759

ISBN - 13:9780345445759


From the Author

Lynda Barry is a writer and cartoonist. She’s the author of several books,including Cruddy and One Hundred Demons.Lynda Barry: Where were you and what were you doingwhen this story first showed itself to you?Anne LeClaire: I was in the middle of a writing residencyat the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, which is situatedin a rural town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.One day I went into town to get a haircut and saw a poster inthe local beauty shop advertising a Glamour Day, just like theone Tallie describes. "They make you look like a star," theowner told me as she trimmed my hair, summing up in thissingle sentence the magic formula. This started me thinkingabout the way Hollywood acts as a polestar in our culture,pulling us along in its wake, however much we deny its magnetism.I saw in my mind the young girl who would beTallie, a teenager wanting to be transformed. It was just aglimmer, but enough to get me started, although at thetime I thought it would end up as a short story. Out of thisbeginning--the daughter of a starstruck mother, desertedfor a dream--a story was formed. I have to add that in theinterest of research I did sign up for Glamour Day, but truly Idid not end up looking like a movie star. More like a femaleimpersonator.LB: Was that first glimmer like a picture? Did you seeTallie in your mind’s eye?AL: It was actually more a feeling than a visual impression.When I looked at that poster, I felt the yearning a young girlmight feel, an ache really, the wanting to be somethingmore, more than a person’s particular geography or circumstancessuggested was possible. That sense of longing wascentral to the story as the work progressed: Tallie’s longingfor her mama, for a relationship with Spy, for a connectionto her father, for information about how to become awoman, and, of course, her desire to be beautiful. Out of thatinitial sense of hunger, a visual did surface, and it was of Talliestanding in that beauty parlor.LB: I love the Klip-N-Kurl! It seemed a perfect place fora teenage girl who had lost her mother (twice!) at sucha critical time in her adolescence. It reminded me of afairy tale in that way. Many fairy tales begin with anadolescent girl who has lost a good mother who hasbeen replaced by an evil stepmother. I’ve often wonderedif it isn’t a way to tell the story of what happensto us when we hit adolescence and begin to separatefrom our mothers. That wonderful, beautiful, lovedmother from our childhood seems suddenly transformedinto an unreasonable, out-of-it, controlling old bag.Tallie didn’t have a chance to have that crucial relationshipwith her mother.AL: Exactly, Lynda. Even for the brief period when hermother returned from Hollywood, Tallie couldn’t explorenormal adolescent separation and independence. The fewtimes she allowed herself anger, it felt too dangerous becauseher mother was ill. There wasn’t even an evil stepmother torebel against. So to continue the fairy-tale theme, Tallie hadto create her own bread crumb path to negotiate her wayto womanhood because she didn’t have the road map amother might provide. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you, butI watched my three nieces grow up without a mother--theywere eight, eleven, and fifteen when my sister died--andwitnessing the confusion, pain, and significance of their experiencehelped me slip into Tallie’s skin.LB: That’s one of the things that fascinated me about thebook. There is no evil stepmother whom Tallie can hate.That’s a tough position to be in, having your NatalieWood-look-alike mother be forever preserved as good,perfect, young, and most of all, more beautiful thanyou’ll ever be. It’s also a tough position for a writer to bein, because a horrible person makes a writer’s job awhole lot easier and the story follows a certain path. Butno horrible person shows up directly in Tallie’s life. Ikept waiting for one and when I realized no horribleperson was coming, I felt this odd sadness, a lonelinessof being stuck in her position exactly. It was as if Glindathe Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz got the ruby slippersand then died with them on. She’s the Good Witch, sohow can you get mad about it? Our earliest love for ourmothers is like that, like Glinda the Good Witch, like theoriginal Eden. It was so lonely following Tallie throughall her temptations and transgressions, knowing therewasn’t anyone who cared enough to throw her out ofEden. In the end she had to throw herself out.AL: It is lonely when no one cares enough to toss you out ofEden for your sins, or even notice them. But is it worse ifsomeone tries to keep you stuck there? And you are absolutelyright about it being easier for a writer if there is awretched character threatening the heroine.LB: Beauty is a main character in this book. And as soonas I read Natalie Wood’s name, I knew exactly what kindof beauty you meant. There is no way to be more beautifulthan Natalie Wood. I know what it’s like to be theplain-faced child of a beautiful woman. People alwayssaid my mother looked just like Ava Gardner and evennow I can’t look at a picture of Ava Gardner withoutgetting a sad, empty feeling. It broke my heart to thinkof Tallie watching Natalie Wood movies.Was your mother beautiful? Your sister?AL: My older sister was stunning, and people were alwaystelling me how beautiful she was. I was the duckling to herswan. And I know exactly what you mean about that hollowfeeling you experienced watching Ava Gardner. And aboutthe desire to be beautiful. A lot of what I was exploring duringthe writing was this territory of desire. Not just the longingfor beauty, but desire of all kinds. Where do our dreamsand aspirations come from? How do our own experiencesshape our desires? How do dream merchants like Hollywoodand Glamour Companies form them? How do our dreamsshape our lives?LB: And what happens when you get your wish? Tallieprays so hard for her mother to return and when shedoes, it turns out she’s dying. Did your sister come upfor you a lot while you were working on this?AL: Here’s the odd thing. All the time I was writing it, Iwasn’t consciously thinking about my sister or my nieces,but when I read over the completed manuscript, I had thatlightbulb experience of "My God, I’m writing out of my ownhistory." I had a similar experience with Entering Normal. LikeI’m the last to know. Does this happen to you, or are youvery aware of where your material is coming from duringthe process?LB: When I’m writing and it’s going well, it’s more likeslow dreaming. Half of my struggle is to be able to stopthinking and just go along for the ride. I often tell myself,"Just be the stenographer. Your only job is to bethe stenographer."Someone once pointed out how odd it is that wecan remember our dreams, we’re aware of dream selves,but our dream selves seem to have no awareness of ourwaking life. What we call our "real" lives. You never say,"Man, I had the weirdest reality yesterday."I think that may be part of why it’s so often the casethat writers are the last to know how close the storymay be to their own experience. A story has no awarenessof its author. Which feels very odd after living witha character for as long as it takes to write a book. Theyfeel so real to us, but to them we don’t exist, can’t exist.And there’s a great relief in that, somehow. To giveyourself over and, for a little while, stop existing. Iwonder if it isn’t somehow a bit like flying a plane--which you also do. Are writing and flying planessimilar?AL: I love your statement that a story has no awareness of itsauthor. It feels odd--and a little sad--to think of charactersthat are so very real to me not even knowing I exist. I guesswe humans want reciprocity.About flying and writing: I’ve never thought about it before,but there is a connection in that both of them lift meout of my daily reality and present me with a different perspectiveof life, another way of looking at things. Both alsorequire a great concentration, the kind of intense focus thatis almost like meditation.LB: When the writing is going well, it’s a different stateof mind. It doesn’t seem to include a lot of thinking orplanning. It is absolutely the best when it doesn’t evenfeel like writing. When it’s like the deep state of playyou see kids go into sometimes. From an adult’s pointof view, the kid is playing with toys. But from the kid’spoint of view, the toys are playing with him. He doesn’thave to plan out a story for the toys. As long as he’s notself-conscious, the stories will happen by themselves.I’ve always thought that self-consciousness was anodd name for that feeling because it’s really consciousnessof others. My very WORST writing experienceshappen when I’m aware of "the reader," a reader whodoesn’t even exist because until the story exists therecan be no reader, and as long as I’m concentrating onthe reader there can be no story. My worst days arewhen I’m frozen into a state of worry about what thenonexistent reader thinks about my nonexistent story.AL: But the trick is losing self-awareness, shutting out thecritical mind. Then bliss. For me, writing flows when I don’tplan it out in advance. The only novel I never got publishedwas one I mapped out in detail first. By the time I sat downand wrote it, it was lifeless.But to leap in, not knowing exactly where the story isgoing, takes trust, doesn’t it? Some days I think writing is onehuge act of faith. You set out with that glimmer and notmuch else, and trust if you write straight and true and withas much courage as you can muster, a story will result. Thatis what is required of us.And I think the worst writing advice I’ve heard is thatwriters should have a particular reader in mind for whomthey are writing. My experience has been that putting thefocus on the reader (or editor or critic) lifts us out of thestory and can lead to some god-awful pretentious prose.LB: Plus, it’s no fun.We became friends in the early 1990s at an artistcolony where we were both working on novels. Thefirst thing I noticed about you was how much you genuinelyloved to write. You had an exhilaration about itthat I loved, and your way of talking about writing wasso unpretentious compared to many writers I’d met. Iwas just starting work on a novel that became Cruddyand felt really shaky on my feet about it. You were sosupportive and practical and helped me so much. Iknow you have many readers who would love to writea book but have no idea where to begin. What advicewould you give them?AL: Right back at ya’, Lynda. Your humor and exuberanceand honesty attracted me right from the get-go.Advice to writers? Hmmm. I guess the old chestnuts:Take risks. Pay attention. Tell the truth as you see it. Andwrite, write, write. Write not for fame or fortune or recognition,but because it brings you joy.

Read from the Book

1992The promise of beauty--the kind of real personal beauty that can transform a person's life--arrived in Eden, Virginia, on the fourth Thursday in June.As usual I arrived through the rear door of the Klip-N-Kurl, and so a few minutes passed before I caught sight of the sign in the front window. I'd been working at the Kurl since school let out. Mostly I did chores: swept the floor, cleaned the sinks and mirrors, refilled the shampoo and conditioner bottles, dumped the ashtrays, straightened out the magazine table, that sort of thing. Because I wasn't licensed, that was supposed to be the extent of it, but once in a while, when she got behind, Raylene let me do a shampoo or a comb out.I found soaping a head of hair pleasurable. You would be surprised to discover the wide variety of hair. Thin. Coarse. Thick. Wiry. Growing in ways that defy imagination. Hair with three natural parts, or platinum streaks there since birth.It is not false pride when I tell you that my hair was my best asset, though I'd cut it that spring--a mistake that never would have happened if Mama'd still been with me. I'd started out planning to give myself a little trim, like Elizabeth Talmadge's new do, but getting it so the sides matched wasn't as easy as you might think, and Raylene had to fix up the mess. I'd vowed when it grew out never to cut it again. Just trim the dead ends. I planned on wearing it down over my shoulders, like Kim Basinger, an actress I continue to admire even though that town she bought went bankrupt."Morning, Tallie," Raylene said. She was working up a head of suds on Sue Beth Wilkins. An unfortunate mop of hair topped the list of Sue Beth's sorry features. Some of the meaner boys in our class called her LB--short for Lard Bucket--but a kindhearted person like Mama would call her sturdy.Mrs. Wilkins was sitting over by the dryers flipping through the style magazines. Raylene caught my attention in the mirror and gave a quick eye roll. You had to feel sorry for Sue Beth. Every year in late June--when they held all the practices that led up to tryouts for next year's Flag Corps--her mama dragged her in and, armed with pictures she'd clipped out of some teen magazine, set Raylene to work. Sue Beth wasn't in the least consulted about this and had told me herself she didn't want to be a Corps member--as if that were even a remote possibility. The whole time she sat in Raylene's chair she looked about as happy as a rain-soaked rooster. It was clear as crystal Sue Beth wasn't going to make the Corps or the cheerleaders or the Sparkette twirlers or much of anything else except maybe, maybe the chorus. It wasn't just her weight, which certainly wasn't any asset. It was her whole yard dog look, which--having Mrs. Wilkins for a mother--you could understand.Still, year after year, Mrs. Wilkins persisted. Last fall she'd had a wooden floor installed in their basement and a lumberyard banister attached to the wall and told anyone who would hold still for a minute that she'd built a dance studio for her Sue Beth. She even hired a private teacher to come in once a week to give lessons. The whole thing about drove Raylene mad."Hi, Sue Beth," I said."Hi," she said from beneath a cap of foam. She wasn't really so bad. Mama might have found possibilities in her."I hear girls' soccer has openings this year," I said. "You thinking about trying out?""Sue Beth doesn't go for that sort of thing," Mrs. Wilkins said.Raylene gave me a warning look like Don't even get started. Mrs. Wilkins was a steady customer. Shampoo and set every week, and once a month the whole works--color, cut, and nails. Raylene didn't want me antagonizing her."Anything special you want me to do?" I asked."Got a load to be folded," Raylene said."Right," I said, and headed for the back room. Raylene had installed a new washer and dryer, and my job was to keep up with the laundry. You would be amazed at the number of towels we went through in a day. We never reused them. Like some shops I won't name. Raylene was insistent about that."Then you can give the plants a drink.""Okay," I said. I opened the dryer and lifted out a full load of towels. They smelled sweet from the little sachet sheets Raylene used, something Daddy had forbidden me to buy. I took my time, finding pleasure in folding a neat stack.On and off since I started working for her, Raylene talked about my going to the cosmetology school over in Lynchburg after I graduated Eden High and then coming back full-time for her, something I can tell you that I had absolutely no intention of doing. Whenever she brought it up, I just nodded, but my resolve remained firm. A person has to take care not to let other people push their dreams on you. I had ideas of my own. They weren't jelled, but they were cooking.Other than her plans for my future, I liked working for Raylene. For one thing, she was dependable as a ceiling fan. My own life was not so solid, and I liked this about her. The other thing was I liked being in the shop, listening to the sounds of women's voices. Even back when Mama was with us, Daddy had never been much for conversation, and now--with Mama gone and just the two of us--Daddy barely spoke at all. The talk at the Kurl balanced the silence of our home. I listened to the women talk about men and cooking recipes and when to plant bulbs, sorting through the particulars of what they were saying, testing things in my mind and adding the useful items to the book I kept. I'd started the notebook as a way of remembering everything about Mama--so I wouldn't forget--but it had grown into a book about how to be a woman, the kind of stuff a girl usually learned from her mama. You'd be amazed at the things a person could learn just by being attentive.I was carrying the watering can up front for the ivy when I saw the sign perched on this easel Raylene had set up in the front window. It was a blowup of a blonde all prettied up like a Hollywood star with a feather boa streaming over her bare shoulders like pink lemonade, and Raylene had angled it so it could be seen by anyone in the shop as well as those walking by. On the bottom, Glamour Day was spelled out in red letters rimmed with gold."Raylene," I called. "What's this?""What's what, Tallie?""This poster. This Glamour Day thing."Raylene left Sue Beth sitting at the sink with a towel wrapped around her head. Within minutes she was explaining the whole thing, how this company was sending in a team of trained professionals--that's what she called them, a team--to make you over. For twenty dollars you got the complete works--hair, makeup, the whole job--and then a photographer took your picture in five different outfits entirely of your choice. Glamour Pics, the company called it, like you were a Movie Star or heading for center stage at Nashville."For the twenty dollars," Raylene continued, "they also let you keep one nine-by-twelve photograph."I thought about that for a minute, then asked, "Well, how does the company figure on making any money--the glamour makeover and the photo all for twenty dollars?""Tallie, honey," Raylene said, "the Glamour Company's lack of business acumen is not our problem." She was as pleased with the whole deal as a cream-fed cat.Mrs. Wilkins was hanging on every detail. Naturally she'd already signed up for both her and Sue Beth.Suddenly I was filled with missing Mama. I could just imagine her sporting the pink boa. If she were there she'd probably end up directing Glamour Day herself. Mama knew everything about Hollywood. She had direct experience. The fact was that four years ago, when I was in the eighth grade, my mama'd headed off to California. She went there to be in a movie. You may doubt me on this, but it's true.When Mama left, my daddy and me and her best friend, Martha Lee Curtis, were the only people in Eden to know why she went off and what her plans were. Tell people I'm off visiting kin and let it go at that, she said. Mama never didcare a fig about what others thought. In that way she was unlike most women. So we told people just like she said. When their pointed questions met with no satisfaction, the majority of folks let the subject drop. Town gossip was that she'd left my daddy and run off with another man, which, believe me, was incredible but made sense to just about everyone in Eden. People were always saying my daddy was sweet, but no one pretended to think he deserved my mama. Her included, I suppose.Of course I was dying to tell the whole county what Mama was up to, but she said no. She made us promise. She had her reasons, she said. I couldn't imagine what they might be. Wasn't it better to have people knowing the truth than thinking she ran out on us? But like I said, Mama didn't care about the good opinion of others. Still, if it were me, I'd want to tell everyone what I was setting off to do. It was the most exciting thing in the world.Mama's plan for becoming an actress wasn't as impossible as it might seem. First off, she'd been acting for years. In Eden High, she was the star of the annual play every year from freshman to senior. Then later, after she graduated and was at school learning how to type and take dictation, she performed in the theater over in Lynchburg. She had the photo album to prove it. All her life Mama dreamed about being a movie star. She believed it was her true destiny.Then one day that winter, just after I'd brought in the mail and was sitting on the porch drinking a Coca-Cola, Mama started screaming. By the time I got to the kitchen, she was dancing around the table and waving a magazine in the air. Finally she calmed down enough to tell me how they were going to make a movie about the life of Natalie Wood and how the director still hadn't settled on the actress for the leading role and was, in his words, looking for a fresh face, someone who could capture the essence of Natalie. Mama said this was her big chance. She was as close to the essence of Natalie Wood as anyone. She was practically a twin.According to my granny Goody, from the time Mama was five years old, people were always commenting on the astonishing likeness, first as the little girl in A Miracle on 34th Street, a video we owned and watched every Christmas, then in all the ones that followed. Rebel Without a Cause. Splendor in the Grass. West Side Story. Gypsy. It was like Natalie Wood was holding up a beacon for Mama to follow. Final proof was Mama's high school yearbook photo. She looked exactly like Natalie in Splendor. That year was when she started insisting on being called Deanie, after the girl in the movie."I'm doing it, Luddy," she told my daddy that night. "It's my big chance. It's fate." The way she said fate, in a flat, determined voice, refused argument.Daddy wasn't convinced, though he wanted to agree with Mama--it nearly killed him to disagree with her. At the time, I believed he was afraid she might go off and find another life and was afraid, too, that lying at the other end of her dream was only disappointment. He couldn't bear the thought of Mama being let down any more than he could entertain the thought she would leave him. I myself was torn between wanting Mama to be a star and despairing at the idea of being left without her.Mama jumped up and tore out of the room. A minute later, she was back holding two pictures that she slapped down on the table in front of my daddy. One was of Mama taken the previous Christmas, and the other was an autographed photograph of Natalie Wood. I'd always believed Mama got that picture from a Natalie Wood fan club or a film studio. It was that kind of glossy up close photo. A person--looking at the two pictures--would be hard pressed to tell which was the real Natalie."See," she said. "I'm supposed to get this part. It was madefor me.""Oh, baby," Daddy said, "it's not that I don't want you to go. I just don't want you to be disappointed."Mama's mind didn't hold room for such thoughts. "You know what I believe, Luddy," she said. "The sky's the limit. The sky's the limit and all we have to do is reach for it."The sky's the limit. Mama always said that. But sometimes--and I do love my daddy--sometimes I wondered if Mama really believed that the sky was the limit, why had she settled on a man like Luddington Brock? Half the men in Eden were in love with her. You could tell this by the way their eyes followed her when she walked down the street. She could have had any man in the county. But she picked my daddy.Goody had a theory about this. She said in our family women marry down. We marry down, she said, and then spend the rest of our lives trying to elevate our men. Goody had married my granddaddy when he was a clerk at Simpson's Cash Store and then dedicated her days and her daddy's money elevating him until he ended up a doctor for the Southern Railroad. I don't know for sure about Goody's marrying theory, but there is no denying that Luddington Brock was a big step down for the only daughter of Taylor and Jessie Adams.In spite of Mama's conviction and the two photos on the table staring up at him, Daddy still wasn't persuaded, so Mama just perched herself on his lap, cupped her hands on his cheeks, and made him look straight at her."It's something I have to do, Luddy. I have to. If I don't, my life will be filled with regret."At that time, I truly didn't apprehend the true nature of dreams. I didn't understand they held the power to take hold of you with both hands and pull you along, just sweep you off your feet and turn your entire life on its back. That day, I only recognized my mama's determination. The next day, she was planning it out, showing a lot of grit for someone who'd never been out of Amherst County--and at that time I really did think that Mama had never been outside the county in her life. We rented all the old Natalie Wood movies Mama didn't already own, including The Last Married Couple in America and This Property Is Condemned, two that most people probably never have heard about. We kept them so long, the video store charged us extra. It was weird, sitting there on the sofa by my mama, her hand in mine, all the time staring at the TV screen and seeing her face reflected back at me. Sometimes I had to tighten my fingers around hers to convince myself she was still there beside me.

Bookclub Guide

1. What is the significance of the title Leaving Eden? How doesit work on both a literal and a figurative level?2. Tallie's mother, Deanie, quotes the poet Robert Frost:"Home is the place that, when you go there, they have totake you in." How does this indicate Deanie's attitudeabout her hometown? In which ways does she stand outthere? How are Tallie's feelings about Eden similar anddifferent?3. What is Tallie's reaction to Deanie's departure and subsequentreturn? How does Tallie feel inadequate comparedto her mother? In which ways does she feel abandoned byher? How are mother-daughter relationships presentedin the novel, including those between Goody and Deanie,Mrs. Reynolds and Sarah, and Mrs. Wilkins and Sue Beth?4. "A person's as big as her dreams," Tallie recalls hermother saying. At the beginning of the novel, what areTallie's dreams, big and small? How does she measure herdreams against the ones of those around her? Why doesshe adopt Deanie's dream as her own? Does she ever believeit's truly her own aspiration?5. Tallie doesn't believe that anyone she knows, other thanherself and her mother, has the capacity to dream. Howis she proven right or wrong? What actions, both goodand bad, do Deanie and Tallie undertake in order to realizetheir dreams?6. How does Tallie characterize the relationship betweenher parents, and how accurate is her viewpoint? Does thepartnership seem imbalanced? What do you think attractedDeanie to Luddington, and vice versa? Whatrole does Tallie play in their relationship? What is the dynamicof the family unit before Deanie's departure, andafterward?7. What is Tallie's relationship with her father like both beforeand after Deanie's death? How do they both copewith their grief? Do you think that Tallie is stronger thanher father? In which ways does Tallie need someone totake care of her? In which ways is she older than heryears, and how is she younger?8. Were you surprised to learn that Deanie's abandonmentof Tallie was actually her death from cancer? Whattechniques does Deanie use to brave her illness? Howdo humor and laughter play a part? In which ways doesimagination alleviate her pain? How do the people aroundher cope with her sickness and death?9. How does Martha Lee serve as a foil to Tallie's mother?What does Tallie learn from their friendship? Does MarthaLee act maternally toward Tallie, or is she more of anontraditional mother figure? What does Tallie admireabout Martha Lee, and what would she like to change?What aspects of Martha Lee's personality are reflected inTallie's? In Deanie's?10. Tallie compares everyone she comes in contact with toher mother. "Not like Mama" is her constant refrain.How does Deanie's presence guide Tallie in her day-to-daylife and overall? In which ways does Tallie most missher mother's influence? How do other women, like MarthaLee and Raylene, attempt to fill that void?11. Tallie is upset when a social worker comments that sheidolizes her mother. How accurate is his statement? Whydoes Deanie provoke such strong feelings in those whosurround her? How does Tallie's trip to California castDeanie in a more realistic light?12. Tallie keeps many things to herself, from her feelings forSpy Reynolds to her plans to flee to California. How doesher "secret self" compare to the persona she projects tothe outside world? Do others in Eden--everyone fromDeanie to Luddington to Spy to Martha Lee--also possessa hidden identity? How do they express or hide thatfacet of their personality?13. Physical appearances play a pivotal role in the novel. Howdoes Deanie's striking resemblance to Natalie Wood shapeher life? How is Tallie driven by insecurities about her appearance?Why is Glamour Day so important to her, as wellas to the ladies at the Klip-N-Kurl?14. How does Tallie's makeover on Glamour Day affect her behaviortoward Spy? What about Spy is so appealing to Tallie?How does her initial impression of him differ fromhow she comes to feel about him? Why does Spy, in turn,find Tallie intriguing? Does this surprise her?15. Why does Martha Lee decide to attend Glamour Day? Whydoes she take Tallie's spot? What facets of her personalitydoes this reveal?16. Did the disclosure of Sarah's drowning surprise you? Inwhich ways, both subtle and overt, does it affect Tallie'sbehavior? Why do you think Tallie skipped Sarah's funeral?How is this characteristic or uncharacteristic of herpersonality?17. What is Tallie's initial conception of the Reynolds family?How do they appear to the outside world? How does theiroutward demeanor conceal secrets?18. Initially, why doesn't Tallie believe the rumors that Sarahkilled herself? What are the clues that point to Sarah's suicide?How does Mrs. Reynolds stand in sharp relief to Tallie'smother, particularly in relation to her children? Howdoes Spy react to these forces and the emotions they unleashwithin him?19. Why does Spy come to Tallie after he has been arrested?What compels her to make love to him? What is her attitudetoward the possibility of having his baby? How areher feelings similar and different to her mother's feelingstoward Sasha?20. Why did Deanie make a special trip to find Sasha? Whatdo you imagine their reunion was like? Do you thinkDeanie would have believed Sasha's assertion, "It takesmore than an accident of blood to make a family"? Whyor why not?21. What is Sasha's attitude toward Tallie when she shows upon her doorstep? Do you think that Tallie was surprisedto discover an older sister? How does Tallie react to thesecrets that Sasha reveals about their mother? Do youthink that Tallie and Sasha will ever be in contact again?22. What about her visit to Natalie Wood's grave evokes sucha strong emotional response from Tallie? Why do youthink that her father undergoes a significant change atthis point in the novel?23. "Wanting is a powerful thing," Anne LeClaire writesin Leaving Eden. How does LeClaire present the differentforms of desire? How is desire a positive force in Tallie'slife and in the lives of those around her? In which ways isit detrimental?24. What propels Martha Lee to fall in love and get married?How do you envision her life together with Tallie'sfather? How do you think Tallie will adjust to havingMartha Lee as her stepmother?25. Why does Tallie initially begin to keep her book of sayingsand advice? What does it grow into?26. The last line of the book is from Tallie's journal: "TheQueen of Cures is Love." How does this theme resonatethroughout the book? What other lessons has Tallielearned?