Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The dreaded road trip
Of course, the original story of Emily's life in Baltimore and the Eastern Shore of Maryland takes up the majority of the pages in Good Fridays. But inserted among the parts with Emily's diary entries are the daily accounts of the five-day road trip Vicki and her daughter, Sara, are making from Denver to Baltimore for Emily's funeral. Whether it's a book or a movie, a story needs to have conflict, suspense, action and resolution. There has to be one or more problems facing the main character, and the sooner the better. For Sara, who is the main "contemporary" character in Good Fridays, that conflict begins on page one and represents the fact that she's going to be in a car with her domineering, condescending mother for five days and fifteen hundred miles. Each way. This is a woman Sara has never been able to please, has never been able to let her guard down around, and has never understood. Until now. Although Sara feels somewhat empowered by the recently-acquired knowledge that the problem with her mother is that she has a mental illness, Sara isn't sure she can manage such an enormous amount of "quality time" during the trip and come out of it in one piece. Sara knows Vicki's white Mercedes is about to become her cell for five days. The reader learns that Sara has set two tremendous goals for herself during this trip. First, Sara is planning on confronting her mother about the unfair treatment she's been handing out during Sara's thirty years, and secondly, Sara's going to also confront her mother about another injustice that Vicki's guilty of, something that's been kept from Sara her entire life. So right away, there's lots of suspense for the story. When the white Mercedes arrives to pick up Sara, the reader has already learned enough about Vicki's behavior to pause before joining Sara in the passenger seat. The action throughout Good Fridays is what leads to the story's resolution. By the end of any story, people have to change. Things don't always work out the way a character hopes, but things are definitely different than they were at the beginning of the story. The reader should be given a sense of satisfaction by "The End." Happy endings? Sometimes. But sometimes more like real life.