Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
- Part One (pages 1-95)
Welcome to all those who decided to do a read-along with Batty. Welcome to those who are just stopping by the blog to hear about Not a Drop to Drink. Today’s post has some spoilers, though I tried to stick to things that happen early in the story. Kathy’s post kept much more spoiler free.
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For those of you who are new to our Batty Chats - Maria’s thoughts with Kathy’s responses are hosted here on the Melange. Kathy’s (aka @thebrainlair) thoughts with Maria’s responses reside on The Brain Lair. Take a peek at both of sides and add your own voice into the mix!
Don’t forget to check out our discussion of:
Why is water a problem?
I know that Lynn and her mother are concerned about the quality of the water in their pond and the local streams, but what happened? I’m hoping we get some of the overall world building backstory on this later in the book.
This question became even larger in my head once we met Lucy, who know about faucets and running water even though she’s much younger than Lynn. What is happening in the cities?
In general - what came before? What happened to make the world the way it is, since it sounds like a recent event.
Lynn mentions that she is sure she had running water before her earliest memories. What happened?
Kathy: Yes, why did Lucy have to leave Entargo? How close is it to where they are now since there were no vehicles by the stream? Did Lucy’s family mean to be gone so long? I’m hoping part two answers some of these questions!
Why is Lynn’s mother so worried about “bad men” in particular?
We don’t know anything about Lynn’s father. I understand that Lynn’s mother is worried about the chaos of people after their water, but she seems to particularly point out the vague issue of “bad men”. It makes me wonder if there is something in her past that makes her extra sensitive to this. I’m pretty sure men AND women could be brutal in an apocalyptic situation… just as both men and women could be compassionate and helpful to those in need.
Kathy: I wondered this too. She helped Stebbs but pretty much tells Lynn not to trust men. Did Lynn’s father leave or was he never a part of their lives? How will we ever know?
Why is the basement safer?
I never really get the sense that the basement is closed off completely from the rest of the house. But maybe this is because of the way the basement is set up in MY house. Does her basement have multiple escape routes? Mine only has the door up into our main house, and that doesn’t seem much safer than any of the rest of my house.
Kathy: I think it’s because it’s more defensible. There are many ways people can get into your house or hide in your house but there is only one way into the basement, well two with the little window, and they would know immediately. Plus, they would have all their food and water. Maybe similar to a bomb shelter or panic room with enough space for two people and provisions and you can’t shoot into it like you see on television shows.... Hehe… clearly I’m not ready for an apocalypse!
I didn’t stop and highlight as much text in this book to use as “quotes” as I have in other Batty choices. I don’t feel like that’s a problem, though. The story in this is so intense and… for lack of a better word… gritty that I feel like if the prose had been “prettier” it would have caused a serious disconnect for me. There still were some great bits that really added to the overall anxiety and “yuck” factor that make me feel Lynn’s tension as I read.
Kathy: I agree, most of the quotes I wrote down were about the rifles and the act of survival. Though I must say that McGinnis did a great job of using imagery to make things vibrant.
“Death and gunpowder were scents from her childhood” - page 1.
This was the first one that jumped out at me, letting me know that Lynn’s world is so different from my own. I immediately wondered when the catastrophe (whatever it is) happened. We get some information on the timing in this first chunk of the story, but there’s so much I still want to know!
Kathy: I went for the first line on this page - Lynn was nine the first time she killed. So I believe it happened shortly after or right before she was born. How did things come to this and are others feeling it too? Stebbs doesn't seem near as anxious as Lauren.
“Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water” page 4
Another early indicator about this world. It makes me think of The Walking Dead. What does a crisis like this do to our moral compass? Do our responsibilities to other humans change in a situation like this? Clearly Lynn’s mother feels like her main responsibility is to Lynn… though her willingness to help Stebbs makes me feel like maybe she’s not completely without compassion for those around her.
Kathy: She seems to walk a fine line between keeping Lynn safe at all costs and wondering what those costs entail. She wants to go, to change but gives in to Lynn, at least she did in the past. Her desire to smoke the meat and move on hints that she hasn’t completely given up on the world. Or maybe she hasn’t given up on her memories of the world and wants to see if there is something to go back to or is she just trying to prepare Lynn to take care of herself? “I won’t always be here to double check you.” (37)
“The courtesy of a warning shot was more than most people extended these days” 35
Kathy: My question here is - who was firing the warning shots? Yes! I love all the set up in this section.
“The breeze shifted the grass around her, wafting into her face the faintly spicy scent of green leaves turning brown. But Lynn’s eyes saw only usefulness in these small miracles” 70
Kathy: This is beautiful and sad. When we lose sight of the world around us, we become different people, I think. Their lives are so consumed with survival and utility, the vitality of life is lost. “The water tanks sat there in the darkness, motes of dust settling onto their long white bodies.” (6) is another instance of survival outweighing beauty.
“I think we’re in danger of becoming friends” - 82
Kathy: I used this one too. It really sums of Stebbs for me but I wonder what took him so long to make his move?? I also like “but the deal was to split what you found” (81) when he decides to help with Lucy. YES! I wrote that one down also, but I had already written so much I didn’t use it.
Let’s be honest here, I’d be totally screwed in a major catastrophe. There’s not much call for reading, writing, or even teaching little kids during an apocalypse. I can’t fix anything mechanical, I don’t know how to build a fire without serious supporting materials, I don’t know how to purify water, and I have zero idea what edible things are in my environment. You’d think that since I’ve been reading all of these books about living through an apocalypse, I’d learn a thing or two, right?
What should be in a survival kit? What food lasts the longest? I honestly had a moment while reading this book where I considered finding a way to get someone to prescribe some antibiotics that I would just put aside for emergencies. Anyone else get these little panic moments while reading post-apocalyptic books? (Aww, crap… just got sucked down the rabbit hole again while writing this!) In case you are curious, here is an article about purifying water using UV-A from sunlight. http://modernsurvivalblog.com/health/how-to-purify-water-with-sunlight/
Kathy: I think, post-apocalyptic - meaning we survived the apocalypse - our particular skillset would come in handy in the rebuilding phase! We would help keep all the youngsters sane, give them a semblance of normalcy. But, you know, we’d have to survive first! I’m a total nonsurvivor so I already have the Camelbak filtered water bottle so I’d better go ahead and get their purifier http://shop.camelbak.com/water-purification/bottles/all-clear-water-purifier/l/251 ! This does what you mentioned above but I’m all about the convenience offered here, in case I need to move fast! Yours sounds exactly like the way Lauren taught Lynn to purify! I wonder what Stebbs is doing??? She can’t ask him but she never sees him gathering and he doesn't seem to be struggling to survive either… Exactly! I’m fascinated by Stebbs.
I try to keep these discussions really spoiler free, so that if someone stumbles on them they don’t hate me. (I didn’t even talk about Lucy I was so afraid of spoilers!)
Letting your baby grow up - I know I’m overprotective, but Lynn’s situation makes me feel so anxious. Her poor mother… watching Lynn drive off with an ax, alone. Though I’m sure that she’s had plenty of training, since this is the way life has always been for her.
I think that the death of Lynn’s mother happens early enough that I’m willing to talk about it, though. I was surprised - though I know I really shouldn’t have been. Giving a teenager complete control over her decisions in a story like this is important, and sometimes the best way for that to happen is for the parents to either die or be absent. Lynn’s mother was completely controlling - she appeared to be quite literally the only voice in Lynn’s life. While I understand why she was that way, I know Lynn needs the chance to make her own choices, and mistakes, in this book.
Kathy: Gah! I would have said so much more if I knew you were going to cover this!!! I have loads to say about their relationship but didn’t want to give this away. Next time! You are right, it was necessary because she was Lynn’s only contact plus she was ready to move on and Lynn wasn’t. Now we get to see what Lynn does with the things her mother taught her. And she will grapple with whatever Lauren chose NOT to teach her. I want to know why they had all the clothes, even some for Lucy to grow into. Where did they come from??? But my major issue with Lauren’s death is McGinnis pointed out, in at least three instances, that Lynn was trained not to have a knee-jerk reaction when she was carrying a rifle and yet, this. I struggled with whether or not to reveal this in my post… maybe I should put a spoiler note right before it and change the text color so you can’t read it unless it’s selected?
Lucy and Stebbs -
“I think we’re in danger of becoming friends” - 82
Not only do these characters add interest, but it helps to see Lynn as compassionate. She is willing to help others, even if it damages her own chance of survival. I loved how she was so cautious as she tried to approach Stebbs at first. The etiquette of an apocalypse seems like a prickly thing.
Kathy: She talks about “something else Mother had never taught her. Gratitude.” It’s like she was the Grinch and now her heart is growing. It’s interesting to see nature playing its part and battling with nurture, the way Lynn was raised. She has to find out who she is and what she believes in, apart from Lauren. Like with the medicine - “You don’t need to suffer more than you have.” She’s read books but her knowledge of how to be around other people is so limited. This could go many ways!
Be sure to come back next week to discuss the next chunk of the book - Pages 96-195