I had planned on getting this post up yesterday, but I was celebrating my partner’s birthday so I wasn’t on the computer until late.
I hope my first post covering the prologue and first chapter of Strays inspired you to grab your own copy. For the readers who are new to my blog, I am covering the novel Strays by Jennifer Caloyeras, chapter by chapter. Obviously, then, each post will have spoilers about the book. Think of my Reading Series as a book club, where I sincerely hope you will join me in reading along!
Now, let’s discuss chapter 2.
We left off chapter 1 with Iris in the cafeteria with her two close friends. They were interrupted by Principal Cagel, who told Iris to meet him in the office. Previously, when Iris would get called to the office, it was to receive accolades for her achievements in her science courses. This time, though, it was different, and Iris could tell that she wasn’t about to receive an award.
We learn a lot about Iris very quickly in this chapter. We finally see firsthand her frustrating relationship with her father – or rather, a lack of a relationship. He attends the meeting with Principal Cagle and other staff members, but doesn’t seem to really care or understand what Iris is going through. She’s in danger of failing English, and has a horrible English teacher who seems to lack compassion for her students’ well-being. Iris barely speaks during the meeting; instead, the adults speak over her. They act like they care, but based on their interactions with Iris they don’t seem to. During this meeting we see Iris bottling up her feelings even more so. As a reader, I can see that a breaking point will be coming soon.
Iris heads to the beach, ignoring her friends and isolating herself further. In this part of the chapter, I believe this is the first time we learn that Iris, despite being a science geek and particularly interested in animal science, is afraid of dogs. While at the beach, she meets a dog who scares her. Iris reveals to the reader that when her mother (who has since passed) was a teenager, she had been attacked by a pit bull dog, and her mother’s fear has seemed to carry over to Iris. We know based on the cover and title of the novel that a dog (or dogs) will be affecting Iris’ life in the story, so I’m intrigued to learn how Iris gets over her fear.
While at the beach, Iris creates a list of things to do that will better her situation. One of them is to do something nice for her father. When I read that, I immediately suspected that it was going to go awry. Unfortunately, a few pages later, I was right. Her father decides to spend the evening with a woman instead of his daughter, and continues to remain ignorant about Iris’ feelings. After he leaves, Iris goes to the closet and attacks it with a hammer. Remember that in the prologue, this was how we met Iris – taking her emotions out by hitting the wall of her closet with a hammer. Can you blame her? She’s taking a step to build the non-existing relationship with her father, and he responds in a dismissive way.
Poor Iris! At this point, are there any humans who truly care? I guess I could say that her friends do, but I’m not so sure about that. I know she’s pushing them away, but at the same time, they don’t seem particularly worried about her.
That’s it for now. Next week will be Chapter 3!
Please comment below or reach out to me on Twitter to let me know if you are reading along or if you have any thoughts on this post! I would love more interaction with my readers!
Strays: A Novel can be purchased directly through Ashland Creek Press.
Add Strays: A Novel to your Goodreads shelf!