Monday, February 1, 2016

GOD HELP THE CHILD, BY TONI MORRISON

BOOK DISCUSSION DATE AND TIME: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2016, AT 1:00 P.M.

Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child is a searing tale about the way childhood trauma shapes and misshapes the life of the adult. At the center: a woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life; but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love until she told a lie that ruined the life of an innocent woman, a lie whose reverberations refuse to diminish . . . Booker, the man Bride loves and loses, whose core of anger was born in the wake of the childhood murder of his beloved brother . . . Rain, the mysterious white child, who finds in Bride the only person she can talk to about the abuse she's suffered at the hands of her prostitute mother . . . and Sweetness, Bride's mother, who takes a lifetime to understand that "what you do to children matters. And they might never forget."

Monday, December 14, 2015

A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA, BY ANTHONY MARRA

BOOK DISCUSSION DATE AND TIME: MONDAY, JANUARY 25, 2016, AT 1:00 P.M.

Stegner and Whiting Award winner Anthony Marra transports us to a snow-covered village in Chechnya, where eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night, accusing him of aiding Chechen rebels. Across the road their lifelong neighbor and family friend Akhmed has also been watching, fearing the worst when the soldiers set fire to Havaa's house. But when he finds her hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives.... 


Monday, November 23, 2015

MARY COIN, BY MARISA SILVER

BOOK DISCUSSION DATE AND TIME: MONDAY, DECEMBER 14th, 2015, AT 11:00 A.M.

In 1936, a young mother resting by the side of a road in central California is spontaneously photographed by a woman documenting the migrant laborers who have taken to America's farms in search of work. Little personal information is exchanged, and neither woman has any way of knowing that they have produced what will become the most iconic image of the Great Depression. (publisher)


Booklist:
Inspired by Migrant Mother, the iconic Depression-era photograph snapped by Dorothea Lange in 1936, Silver reimagines the lives of both the photographer and the subject. Interweaving the stories of Mary Coin , a young mother grappling with the cruel realities of raising a family during an enduring economic crisis, and Vera Dare, the brilliant young photographer facing life-altering decisions of her own, this dual portrait investigates the depths of the human spirit, exposing the inner reserves of will and desire hidden in both women. Though their paths cross for a brief moment, their fates—stretching into succeeding generations—are permanently altered by the meeting. The luminously written, heart-wrenching—yet never maudlin—plot moves back and forth through time, as history professor Walker Dodge unpeels the layers of the photograph’s hidden truths. -- Flanagan, Margaret (Reviewed 02-01-2013) (Booklist, vol 109, number 11, p31)
Publishers Weekly:
/* Starred Review */ Three characters whose lives span 90 years form the core of Silver's gorgeous third novel (after The God of War). Social historian Walker Dodge, as he sorts through the last items of his nearly empty childhood home, discovers a familial link to a famous photograph. Here, a real-life photo taken by Dorothea Lange in 1936 becomes a fictional photo taken by Vera Dare of Mary Coin . Silver fills in the untold story behind Lange's photo by revealing Vera and Mary's  lives in vivid detail. Neither woman can reconcile herself with the Depression-era photo, yet they are intimately linked: each has children, husbands who leave them, and battles with cancer. This narrative of mid-century hope, loss, and disenchantment is both universal and deeply personal. Mary's  problem with the truth of history and the stories told through objects leads her to make the hardest decision of her life, one confronted by Walker 75 years later. Silver has managed the difficult task of fleshing out history without glossing over its ugly truths. With writing that is sensual and rich, she shines a light on the parts of personal history not shared and stops time without destroying the moment. Agent: Henry Dunow; Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. (Mar.) --Staff (Reviewed February 25, 2013) (Publishers Weekly, vol 260, issue 08, p)
Library Journal:
/* Starred Review */ Dorothea Lange's legendary photograph of an unknown migrant mother, taken at the height of the Great Depression, is the inspiration for Silver's (The God of War ) superb new novel. The titular character is a reimagining of this Native American mother of seven, with the memorable face that came to symbolize American poverty. Mary , along with Vera Dare, a strong-minded photographer and polio survivor who is forced to abandon her own children, and Walker Dodge, a modern-day history professor with a surprising link to the celebrated photograph, are the mesmerizing novel's three central characters. Silver's acute observations and understated style are evident here as are her matter-of-fact, unapologetic characters. "You'll know who you are when you start losing things," declares one. With only a few known facts of the woman in Lange's photograph, Silver has crafted a highly imaginative story that grabs the reader and won't let go. VERDICT A must-read for Silver fans that is sure to win over many new followers; the acclaimed author's best work to date.— Lisa Block, Atlanta, GA --Lisa Block (Reviewed February 15, 2013) (Library Journal, vol 138, issue 3, p95)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

FLORENCE GORDON, BY BRIAN MORTON

BOOK DISCUSSION DATE AND TIME: Monday, November 23, 2015, at 1:00 P.M.

Meet Florence Gordon: blunt, brilliant, cantankerous, passionate, feminist icon to young women, invisible to almost everyone else. At seventy-five, Florence has earned her right to set down the burdens of family and work and shape her legacy at long last. But just as she is beginning to write her long-deferred memoir, her son Daniel returns to New York from Seattle with his wife and daughter, and they embroil Florence in their dramas, clouding the clarity of her days and threatening her well-defended solitude. And then there is her left foot, which is starting to drag...
With searing wit, sophisticated intelligence, and a tender respect for humanity in all its flaws, Brian Morton introduces a constellation of unforgettable characters. Chief among them Florence, who can humble the fools surrounding her with one barbed line, but who eventually finds there are realities even she cannot outwit. (publisher)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

THE CHILDREN ACT, BY IAN MCEWAN

Book discussion date and time: Thursday, November 12, 2015, at 10:30 A.M.

Judge Fiona Maye is at a difficult point in her marriage. Taking refuge in addressing other people's problems in family court, Fiona extends herself more than usual, meeting a boy whose future is in her hands. McEwan is a masterful observer of human distress. With a simple story and flawed, genuine characters, this novel is  poignant and insightful.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson

Book Discussion Date and Time: Tuesday, October 13, 2015, at 11:00 A.M.

"My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead."
So begins the story of two eccentric sisters, "Merricat" and Constance Blackwood, and their frail, daft Uncle Julian, who live on a grand  old family estate, isolated from their hostile, curious  neighbors. This gothic masterpiece was written by Shirley Jackson, who first received wide critical acclaim for her short story, The Lottery.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

CASEBOOK, BY MONA SIMPSON

BOOK DISCUSSION DATE AND TIME: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2015, AT 1:OO P.M.

Nine-year-old Miles Adler-Hart’s mother, “the Mims,” is “pretty for a mathematician.” Miles and his best friend Hector are in thrall to her. When her marriage starts to unravel, the boys begin spying on her to find out why. They rifle through her dresser drawers, bug her telephone lines, and strip-mine her computer. Ultimately, what they find will affect the family’s prosperity—and sanity. (Penguin/Randomhouse)

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