July 11, 2023

Discuss why you think Natalie felt so desperate to cling to her relationship with Paul and her friendship with Teensy.

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Paul and Teensy were safe. She knew them, even though she didn’t really pay attention to the true Paul.
She had no idea if her brother and sister would accept her. That unknown kept her in those “safe” relationships.


I think once you experience a difficult loss you cling to what you do have (even if it’s not good for you). I think it takes years to understand that not all loss is bad.


Paul looked good on paper. Teensy was her friend. Natalie wanted love and family even if it was manufactured in her mind.


Natalie envisioned that she would finally belong to a family and become sisters with Teensy.

Alison O

Teensy and Paul really were her only family at the time. She wanted to have some kind of relationship with her Mom but the wasn’t going to happen.


They, along with their family, were the only family she had.


She wanted a family.


Natalie had been craving a functional family her entire life and she was able to find one through her best friend. It makes sense that she stayed with Paul longer than she probably should’ve, since she was scared of losing another family. With her history, she must’ve felt like being with someone that’s not right for her is better then being alone. Plus, she didn’t want to disrespect Teensy after everything she had done for her. Natalie loved Teensy and loved the idea of Paul, but it just didn’t work out.


We humans are social animals: we need to belong. Natalie was rejected by her family–particularly her mother. For a teenage girl such abandonment is brutal. Teensy and Paul (and their parents) provided Natalie with a safe, accepting place to belong. It is not so hard to understand.


I think that you can love a family and want to be part of it. You can believe that you love the partner that would make you a member only to discover that you’re not right for each other.😢 Years later, I still think of almost becoming a member of a family that I loved. Sometimes you really want to hang onto that even when you know it’s not right.


Clinging to Paul was her security in relationships and when they got married she would have a family and Teensy would be her, “sister.”

Stacey Bieberitz

I agree with many readers here. I think Natalie was afraid of losing what she had found for fear of being alone, and she hung onto what was familiar and a “sure thing”. I was glad she respected the boundaries she made with Paul, she asked him to stay away and he didn’t, and she was done, she could have done that sooner but again, she felt compelled to have the sure thing while she explored Santa Cruz, maybe a little selfish but I think actually just a lack of confidence in herself.


It’s always easier to cling to the familiar and try to make it work than to “check in” and make sure where you are is where you need to/want to be. It takes so much courage to right the course.

Here, Paul and Teensy were familiar and the family she built so I feel she held on tight so as not to lose again. Thankfully Paul’s true colors came out which allowed her to reevaluate her need and wants.


I think Natalie was comfortable in the situation. She knew what she could expect from Paul and Teensy, and she didn’t risk getting hurt if she stayed in a relationship with them.


I feel that Natalie was trying to make her own family, taking any kind of love she could get, even if it wasn’t true love.


I feel Natalie is wanting to replace her negative family past with a happy future family with Paul and Teensy. They have the family dynamics she wishes her family could have been. I do feel she is questioning it since Paul got her position. She longs so much for a family that she is willing to set aside her true feelings to hang on to it.

Tiwana Merritt

They give her grounding and provide a sense of connection, safety, love and family for Natalie.

Dennis Raffaelli

Along these lines I think Paul got a raw deal. The way she just suddenly broke up with him because she did not get her way was kind of cruel. Paul was not that bad of a person. She knew his personality when she got together with him.

Denise Rolfes

I disagree that Paul got a raw deal. I also disagree that she “suddenly “ broke up with him. Natalie told Paul she needed a break to process the loss of the promotion that she desired and expected as well as time to deal with the family issues. Paul refused to accept the boundaries she tried to place, and kept he kept pushing her to do what he wanted, and when she insisted he give her the space she asked for, he pulled the “I’m the boss” card. Paul was controlling, and I think he knew once she figured out… Read more »


I also felt it took the forgiveness of Natalie’s siblings for Natalie to trust herself. She was able to state directly and with conviction after their forgiveness that the relationship needed to end. You also see her at the end act more confidently. This really came out in the audiobook t by e way it was read. There was less “where did that come from” statements she was saying to herself.


I agree, Paul was controlling and Nathalie was in an abusive relationship, the same as Lynn was. Abuse takes many forms, not just physical. Fortunately both sisters stood up for themselves and ended these toxic relationships.


Interesting. I feel he was disingenuous when he supported her in getting the position while knowing he was going to get it…and lying to her about not knowing anything about why he was selected. Raw deal indeed. She dodge a bullet in my opinion.


I agree


Paul knew when he was hired that he was going to get the position she was waiting for. Instead of letting her talk about it he could have been upfront with her. Also who buys a home and automatically expects her to live with him? Paul thought he was entitled to the promotion because of his past job experiences.


You’re right, Paul was not a bad person. Natalie says it herself. But she just doesn’t love him. It would’ve been more cruel for her to stay with him.

It can take a while to really get to know some. You don’t usually 100% know someone’s personality as soon as you begin dating. And sometimes it takes a while for you to open your eyes and see they’re just not right for you.


I think Paul and Teensy were replacements for her actual family. When her sister and nephew came into her life Natalie realized that she didn’t need Paul. I think Natalie realized that Teensy would either accept her friendship without Paul or Teensy wasn’t really her friend to begin with.

Manuela Connatser

It feels comfortable like a good worn shoe.


Natalie was trying to “rewrite” her childhood by gravitating toward someone like Paul, who met a standard she had always longed for. But she didn’t love him. Even though she wanted to.


She needed a sense of family and belonging since she was estranged from her blood-family.


After a lifetime of feeling she lost her family and felt it was her fault — she overcompensated and held onto friendships tightly even if they were not aligned to her inner self.


Dating your best friends sibling can be all kinds of complicated. You are already “family” with your best friends family. Now, here you are dating the sibling. Questions come up. What happens if I don’t want to date anymore? Will we still be best friends? What will the family think? Am I still going to be a part of the family? Don’t risk your happiness in life because you don’t want to rock the boat. You only have one life. Choose you.

Valerie Warner

Natalie was estranged from her own family and felt that they still blamed her for the events that occurred 15 years earlier. Being accepted by Paul, Teensie and their parents gave her a sense of belonging.


I think she was holding onto her relationship with Paul because with him she would get an instant family. Teensy would be her “real “ sister. Teensy was her rock in Boston; she was there for Natalie when her mother was unable to be.


She feels insecure and desperate since her family is broken . These are her substitutes a substitutes and she doesn’t want to lose That insecurity also coming from that high school relationship with that jerk where she builds on thinking everything is her fault. It makes her believe that her holding on is best for her. Her actions with her family also make her feel she shouldn’t trust herself.

Arbrie Griffin Bradley

Having lost her own family, Natalie is trying to build a new family with Teensy and Paul. She blinds herself to what is lacking in her relationship with Paul in order to hold on to this new family.


I think that this was the first solid “family” and somewhat normal life she was looking for. Especially because she still unsure of how her siblings were going feel about her.


Natalie used these relationships to fill a whole in her life that she felt was missing from not having a family to connect with. Natalie wanted to be loved by someone so she thought Paul was the answer, when in fact he was just someone to fill that missing piece in her life.


I agree. I’ve only finished chapter 2 so far, but I wonder if it’s all about Teensy. She wants to be her sister, and having a relationship with Paul solidifies that. If they break up, she risks losing Teensy, too.


Becca, 100%

Pammie Glaspell

Teensy was Natalie’s best friend but was a “sister” as well. They had the camaraderie that filled a huge void in Natalie’s life. Paul is the true love that Natalie has fantasized over the years or the ideal of true love that Natalie has wanted since her senior year in high school.


Your take that Paul is the ideal of true love is on point. I had not thought of it, but once I read your comment it struck a chord with me.


Interesting, now I am thinking maybe Paul was more of a big brother substitute. Maybe this is why earlier in the relationship she allowed Paul to talk over her and put with dominates.

Angela Hansen

Natalie used her relationships with Teensy and Paul as her new family.


Natalie was younger and less experience with life experiences. So she thought she was doing the right thing when coming the police and probably did not think of the price her siblings would pay. A person died so eventually police would have be notified. The the moment Natalie didn’t know at the time all that she would lose. Natalie had a lot of grief and guilt that lasted 15 years. She probably didn’t know what to do especially since her mom was not there for her. So her friend Teensy was her support and as her friend helped forget her… Read more »

Brandy Becker

I believe she saw so many red flags with Paul, but…needed to be accepted even if on false pretensions. Also for fear of losing her only and close friend.


After such a loss Natalie experienced I think she felt desperate to cling to her friendship with Teensy and even easier to cling to her relationship with Paul, Teensy’s older brother.

Pammie Glaspell

I agree. She wanted friends and family which she has not had for many years

Beth Suydan

As the reader. I was sure he was history. There’s no way she could stay with him.


She spent just about the same number of years with Teensy and Paul. Enjoying holidays and spending summers with them. They became her family. She didn’t want to lose that connection. She had lost everyone already and was not sure if reconnecting with her siblings was something that would be long lasting. With Paul and Teensy she know someone wanted her.


I agree and Natalie was overlooking Paul’s self-centeredness.


I don’t know how much both Paul or Teensy knew of the exact cause for Natalie’s disconnection from her family. They never seem to have discussions regarding their input on her making the call that sent her siblings to prison. However, they are this force that is introduced as a parallel to the pushing away that Natalie’s own family and instead is often seen openly accepting her and supporting her (at least on Teensys part). If you find support in times that you don’t have any other it’s easy to use that as a life line and not want to… Read more »


I also think Paul and Teensy represented her family. Teensy was like her sister, and Natalie enjoyed their sibling relationship because it was like one she wished she had with her own siblings.


I think she felt like she needed to cling to them because that was basically her new family. She felt like she could not go back to her old family. I think she was afraid she would be left with no one.


I agree. I felt like she might have lost that contact and interactions with friends and family when leaving home, that Teensy and Paul gave to her when she needed it most. She probably is clinging to them because they were able to give her what she needed at the time (understanding, a home and love) that she desperately needed. And maybe leaving them to come back to Santa cruz to reunite with family and friends, could mean her family could cut ties all over again.

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