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“She remembered it all – the Tremor in her legs, the hammering pulse in her neck as the smell smoke grew stronger. She can still taste that smoke and hear her father’s steps on the stairs, Frank panting beside her, moving closer, his voice whispering her name and her own voice answering as fear gave way to ferocity and unaccountable joy, it’s okay, Franky I’m here.”

The two main characters, Franky and Francis, both grew up with an abusive father. Francis defended and mothered Franky after their mother killed herself with ammonia. Francis would help her brother every chance she got. She protected him from their father, Frank Senior. He both mentally and physically abused them, almost ruined Francis’s marriage, and caused trouble at her work. Francis and Frank, when the story, starts they are adults. Frank is telling Francis of a man named Mike anTRAINd his son Benny. Mike is forced to make the decision, after bringing his child to work, to either continue putting the bridge down so a train can pass or to go find his child who wandered off. Mike knows his son is down in the gears, he knows if he pulls the switch to let the train pass then he will kill his child. Francis stops him immediately when Frank starts describing the people on the train. She says she knows how it’s going to end as Mike picks the people over his own son then she tries to make her brother do the same choice in a hypothetical situation. Frank says that he’s not faced with that decision so he doesn’t know what he would do but Francis is dead set on how she would not choose the Train full of people she would choose the kid. Frances says on page 642 that, “She knew what his answer but he — in the end there could be no other answer — but he couldn’t just say she’s my sister and let it go at that. No, he has to noodle up some righteous, high-sounding reasons for choosing her. And maybe he wouldn’t, at first, maybe he chicken out and come up with the Bible-school answer. Francis was ready for that she was up for a fight; she could bring him around. Frances didn’t mind a fight, and she especially didn’t mind fighting for her brother.” Frank and Francis, when they are little, both defy their father in every way they can, which results in Frank Senior getting mad and his temper getting shorter.

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