Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman
Jane Hudson, a former student of Heart Lake School for Girls, finds herself returning twenty years after graduation to teach the ancient language of Latin. Going back to her old high school brings back plenty of memories - including some that she wishes she could forget. After a recent separation from her husband, Jane hopes that bringing her young daughter to Heart Lake will be a good, fresh start for both of them. However, Jane finds that instead of starting over, she's picking up right where she left off: in the middle of a tragic mystery. Since the beginning of their freshman year, Jane Hudson and her roommates Lucy Toller and Deirdre Hall were as close as any teenage girls can get; best friends, and absolutely inseparable. They performed Heart Lake traditions together, including midnight swims in the lake and sacrificial offerings of material objects to "the Three Sisters", or the spirits that are said to inhabit the lake. The very last winter that the girls spent together, however, changed everything. In her senior year, Jane lost her best friends to suicides that seemed to happen without cause. Left alone to deal with the pain and confusion, Jane harbors the burden of the mystery left behind from two decades ago. As the first winter of Jane's Latin teaching career at Heart Lake School for Girls approaches, history begins to repeat itself. She begins finding pages from a journal she had lost twenty years ago, not knowing who has it or if the dark secrets written in it will finally expose her knowledge of the tragic deaths of her roommates. Students begin dying again, and Jane starts to realize that the truth that has been anchored to the bottom of Heart Lake for over twenty years is finally beginning to surface.

Discussion questions:

1. Latin is known as a "dead language" (it is no longer used). Do you think that Carol Goodman chose Latin as the language that Jane teaches in the novel for a reason?

2. The past always seems to come back and haunt those who run away from it, as the mystery of the suicides at Heart Lake come back to haunt Jane after twenty years. Do you think that after facing her past, she felt at peace, or remorseful for not dealing with it soon enough to prevent the deaths of her students?


JessieW 11-12 said...

To answer the second question, I think she probably felt both. She probably felt somewhat at peace for finally figuring out or dealing with the truth. However, at the same time she probably felt somewhat remorseful because it took her so long to figure it out.

Courtney R 5-6 said...

Yes, I believe that Carol Goodman chose Latin as the language that Jane teaches in the novel for a reason. I believe this simply because she goes back to the school where her two friends died to teach the "dead language" and then more deaths start occuring once she goes back. The "dead language" coincides with the other deaths.
I agree with Jessie in the point she made that Jane most likely feels at peace and remorseful. I think she may feel more at peace once everything is figured out about her friends and the other deaths that are popping up because it can be stopped after the mystery is solved. I think she will feel less remorseful about things than at peace. Though I have not read the book, I can assume she didn't kill these people. I'm not sure if she had anything to do with it, but if she didn't, it is not her fault for their deaths, therefore, it is hard to regret what happened because she really couldn't do much about it. But once the mystery is solved, she may find out it had something to do with her, and if it did, I believe that she would feel some sort of remorse.

MaryL11-12 said...
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MaryL11-12 said...

Yes, I think Goodman chose Latin intentionally because it is a dead language. A dead language is something that is no longer spoken, or no longer used, as in it was used in the past but not anymore. When Jane comes back to Heart Lake, she is revisited by her past and when happened in the past becomes key to understanding what's going on in the present. I think she uses Latin to symbolize that sometimes we have to look to the past in order to understand what we have in front of us now. From a literary standpoint, many English words have Latin roots or origins, and many sayings still used today are in Latin (i.e. Carpe Diem)