Chapter 1: The Marriage Fiasco

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Questions for Understanding

  1. How did Kevin describe college in Sweden?
  2. Where did Kevin and Anna decide to live?
  3. How long did Kevin and his children stay in Washington?
  4. What did Anna do a few days after Christmas Day, 2010?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  1.  In Chapter 1, we get a whirlwind tour of a marriage that didn’t work. From what you see here, what do you think was the main reason the marriage was such a disaster?
  2. What event or idea in this chapter affected you the most on an emotional level? Why?
  3. Anna describes Kevin as a man “of the Carpe Diem motto” and herself as more cautious. It seems like a case of “opposites attract.” What do you think of this idea? Do opposites really attract?
  4. If you faced situations like those described in the Prologue and Chapter 1, how do you think you would react? Why?

Ideas for Further Consideration

  • Many people see marriage as a sacred institution. Others view it as an economic or emotional bond. What’s your view?
  • Blending families is always tricky. What do you think are the main things to consider in order to successfully blend a family?

Especially for English Language Learners

Key Words and Expressions:

“I finally laid it out for him:” = I finally explained the situation clearly and directly. (page 5)

“Carpe Diem” = This is a Latin expression which means “seize the day.” It means to grab opportunities instead of letting them slip away. (page 6)

“littered with moving boxes” = messy; the moving boxes were here and there; not neat (page 7)

“blended family” = a family which has children from previous relationships (page 8)

Grammar Focus:

Commas with Compound Sentences

A compound sentence is when you have two independent clauses joined by a conjunction, such as “and,” “but,” “so,” or “or.” The comma rule is to put a comma before the conjunction.

I liked him, but I found the relationship improbable. (p. 5)

College would be free for my kids, and the state would support them… (p.5)

He said he’d move to me instead, and I just smiled. (p.6)

This rule is not very difficult, but it can be confusing to recognize compound sentences. Here are two typical situations when a comma should not be used.

  1. When there is a conjunction but no second subject:

He called me a pessimist and (he) kept encouraging me to move to Stockholm. (p.5)

We were both middle-aged and (we) figured we should grab the opportunity to be happy. (p.6)

2. When “so” means “so that”:

In the end, we decided to get married right away so (that) we could process green cards for him and his kids…

To decide whether to use a comma before a conjunction, it’s important to a) identify the subjects and verbs in the sentence and b) decide what “so” means in the context of the sentence.

Answers to Part 1

  1. He said it was free.
  2. The decided to live in Washington State, USA.
  3. They stayed for less than four months.
  4. She rented a van and drove Kevin and his children, along with their luggage, back to Sea-Tac Airport.

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