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This story was very different from what I expected. After reading the first page, I thought the story would have a much more narrow focus on the family relationships and the dog’s impact on the family. I expected to experience deciding not to save a beloved pet or conflict between the narrator and Russ over adding Poppy to the family. The bear added a new element for me–it embodied the narrator’s failures. It gave her a chance to fight back.

It was different from other stories in the collection in that the narrator was committing to her life in spite of the heartbreaks it had brought her. I felt that this story was more human than the others because it was about a cumulation of failures rather than focusing on one failure and one moment. The narrator had many failures: not being able to breast feed, the bear in her honey, not being able to save her dog, and not being able to save her husband who had early stages of Parkinson’s. Although we do not see how the narrator resolves these or comes out for the better, she understands that she has a purpose in her family, a reason to keep her chin up.

 I knew there would be lips to suture, ribs to mend, mouths to feed, socks to buy.

I think this was a perfect story to end the collection because of its differences from the other stories. It didn’t focus on one moment or hardship in the narrator’s life. Instead, it is about life and about continually finding a way to move on.

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