In the "Coffee Talk" entry for Monday, July 12 (http://www.fborfw.com/fun/blog/archives/004580.php), Lorna asked an
intriguing question: "I've been reading old strips, and I have to ask: In 2007, were we or were we not supposed to sympathize with April? She was displaced from her room for *months*. The decision to move was made with NO regard for how she might feel. Was she really so wrong to be upset about that?"
I would be very interested in seeing Lynn's response to Lorna's questions. Checking the strips, I can see that multiple
interpretations are available.
Going back to the strip that ran on April 16, 2007 (http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/002408.php), I can see that John is being less than honest when he claims that the talk about moving to the Stibbs house is "all just 'what if.'" April astutely thinks that "'what if' is going to turn into 'what is." Her parents have no further discussions with her on the topic until they have made up their minds to buy the house. See the strip that ran May 21, 2007 (http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/002466.php). Even then, they only speak with her because SHE approaches THEM: "You've decided for sure, then." Elly replies, "We've made all the arrangements, April. We're going to move down the street." I wonder if April would have reacted more positively if her parents had made her feel more included in the planning. Note also April picture herself in jail in the final panel. Whether one reads that sympathetically or not is widely open to interpretation.
Going back to April of 2007, on the 17th (http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/002409.php), Liz finds April moping on the bed, literally thinking, "GLOOM... GLOOM.... GLOOM." My guess is that Lynn would probably expect her readers to think that April is overreacting to her situation, but once again--open to interpretation. The April 18, 2007 strip (http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/002410.php) is the one where Dee imagines moving into the Patterson house: "Merrie and Robin can play in the same park you [Michael] played in, slide down the same ravine, make forts in the same yard, go to the same schools...." I have to say that Deanna's casual and positive mention of the ravine bothered me for two reasons. One, as a mother, I can't imagine I'd want my kids to play in a ravine where my sister-in-law had nearly drowned when she was close to my kids in age. Second, April is in earshot--how can she be so insensitive about this place where April nearly drowned and Farley died after rescuing her? In any event--the final panel of that strip again is open to interpretation. April is thinking, "::sigh:: ...Nothing's gonna be the same." Reader could take this in an April-sympathetic way or not.
April also has some interesting interactions with friends. In the strip that ran on March 5, 2007 (http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/002339.php), April complains to her friends about the current over-crowding in her house from Mike, Dee, Robin, Meredith, and Liz all having moved in. When she says, "My brother and his wife have taken over MY room--I'm living like a refugee," Luis Guzman pointedly replies, "No you're not, man, but I feel your pain." In the strip that ran on July 9, 2007 (http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/002566.php), April complains about the new, smaller house, and Eva suggests that April is lucky not to live in a war zone. The next day's strip (http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/002567.php) has Eva pretending to check April for a "best before" date as a way of suggesting that April is spoiled for not getting excited about the prospect of a private suite being made for her in the basement. (It should be noted that this suite was never built, at least by the time the modern-day strip closed in August of 2008.) One way of reading the interactions that April has with Luis and Eva was that she was an inappreciative, spoiled girl whose friends sought to put things in perspective for her. An alternate reading is that she had legitimate complaints and her friend were being lousy friends. Sometimes, one just needs to vent without being reminded that there are others whose lot is worse.
The strip for July 11, 2007 (http://www.fborfw.com/strip_fix/archives/002568.php) happens just after Eva has left and features Elly showing some sympathy for April: "You're not having a good time right now. This move has been very hard on you. We've turned your world upside down! You're hurt. You're confused and angry... And you have every right to be so." They hug and April thinks, "She understands." With Elly standing in as Lynn's avatar, this might offer a clue that Lynn was at least SOMEWHAT sympathetic to April's plight. On the other hand, in a podcast interview from September of 2007 (http://thestrippodcast.blogspot.com/2007/09/lynn-johnston-podcast.html), Lynn told the interviewer that "April is a little spoiled." She seemed to suggest that this was because April was a de facto only child (since her siblings were grown and out of the house). This disappointed me since my husband and I have chosen to have just one child, but that's a whole other topic.
One excellent point that Lorna made was to suggest that Michael and Deanna should have said something to April that demonstrated their acknowledgement that April having to give up her room to them was a non-trivial thing--and they should have shown some gratitude. This, I agree, would have gone a long way toward helping April feel valued. Sorry this got so long. Again, I would be very interested in seeing a response from Lynn to Lorna's query.