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Book Discussions at the Library June 2010

May 24, 2010 by Reader's Connection

As of today, three May book discussions are still coming our way.
A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris will be discussed at the Pike Library on Tuesday, May 25th at 6:30 p.m.

A Yellow Raft in Blue Water

A powerful novel of three generations of American Indian women, each seeking her own identity while forever cognizant of family responsibilities, loyalty, and love. Rayona, half-Indian half-black daughter of Christine, reacts to feelings of rejection and abandonment by running away, not knowing that her mother had acted in a similar fashion some 15 years before. But family ties draw Rayona hometo the Montana reservationas they drew Christine, and as they had drawn Ida many years earlier. As the three recount their lives, often repeating incidents but adding new perspectives, a total picture emerges. The result is a beautifully passionate first novel. — Library Journal





The Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel Love in the Time of Cholera will be discussed on Thursday, May 27th at 6:00 p.m. at the Spades Park Library.

Love in the Time of Cholera

While delivering a message to her father, Florentino Ariza spots the barely pubescent Fermina Daza and immediately falls in love. What follows is the story of a passion that extends over 50 years, as Fermina is courted solely by letter, decisively rejects her suitor when he first speaks, and then joins the urbane Dr. Juvenal Urbino, much above her station, in a marriage initially loveless but ultimately remarkable in its strength. Florentino remains faithful in his fashion; paralleling the tale of the marriage is that of his numerous liaisons, all ultimately without the depth of love he again declares at Urbino’s death. In substance and style not as fantastical, as mythologizing, as the previous works, this is a compelling exploration of the myths we make of love. — Library Journal



People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks will be discussed at the Franklin Road Library on Thursday, May 27th at 6:30 p.m.

People of the BookBrooks now fictionalizes the history of an actual book, the Hebrew codex known as the Sarajevo Haggadah, an extremely precious illuminated manuscript originally from medieval Spain. In 1996, as Brooks has it, as a ceasefire is effected to quell the bloody violence in Bosnia, Australian book conservator Hanna Heath is called to restore the famous Sarajevo Haggadah. The condition of the manscript, including a stain on a page and certain items clinging to it (among them an insect wing that falls from the binding when Hanna conducts her preliminary review of repair needs), leads her on a search for answers to where the Haggadah has been all its life. This, of course, leads Brooks on a marvelously evocative journey backward in time, to periods of major religious strife and persecution, from the 1940 German occupation of Yugoslavia, to 1894 Vienna, to 1609 Venice, to 1492 Barcelona, and, finally, 1480 Seville. Like a flower growing through a crack in a slab of concrete, the exquisitely beautiful Sarajevo Haggadah remained an artistic treasure throughout the centuries despite always seeming to be caught between opposing sides in skirmishes of greed, intolerance, and bloodlust. — Booklist


And now on to June.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield will be discussed at Central Library on Tuesday, June 1st at 6:00 p.m.

The Thirteenth Tale

 A ruined mansion in the English countryside, secret illegitimate children, a madwoman hidden in the attic, ghostly twin sisters yep, it’s a gothic novel, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything fancier. But this one grabs the reader with its damp, icy fingers and doesn’t let go until the last shocking secret has been revealed. Margaret Lea, an antiquarian bookseller and sometime biographer of obscure writers, receives a letter from Vida Winter, “the world’s most famous living author. Vida has always invented pasts for herself in interviews, but now, on her deathbed, she at last has decided to tell the truth and has chosen Margaret to write her story. Now living at Vida’s (spooky) country estate, Margaret finds herself spellbound by the tale of Vida’s childhood some 70 years earlier…but is it really the truth? And will Vida live to finish the story? Setterfield’s first novel is equally suited to a rainy afternoon on the couch or a summer day on the beach. — Library Journal   


Gene Stratton-Porter’s classic A Girl of the Limberlost will be discussed at Warren Library on Thursday, June 3rd at 10:30 a.m.

A Girl of the Limberlost

Gene (born Geneva) Grace Stratton is one of Indiana’s most famous female authors.  She was a prime example of an independent woman, an accomplished naturalist, and a born story-teller. Born near Wabash, Indiana on August 17, 1863, she was the youngest of 12 children.  Her parents, Mark & Mary Stratton, raised their children on a farm near Lagro, Indiana, located in Wabash County.  From a humble Hoosier homestead and with not even a high school diploma, Gene Stratton-Porter would eventually become a famous author, naturalist, talented photographer, and movie producer. Two of her Indiana homes are state historic sites.  The Limberlost State Historic Site in Geneva, Indiana, was Gene’s home from 1895-1913, but altogether she lived 25 years in Geneva.  It was in Geneva that she, her husband (Charles Porter) and daughter (Jeannette), lived near the 13,000 acre Limberlost Swamp in a 14-room Queen Ann style log cabin home that she called “Limberlost”. —   


The Wayne Library will host a discussion of Pat Conroy´s novel South of Broad on Monday, June 7th at 7:00 p.m.

South of Broad

“Kids, I’m teaching you to tell a story. It’s the most important lesson you’ll ever learn,” says the protagonist of Conroy’s first novel in 14 years (since 1995’s Beach Music). Switching between the 1960s and the 1980s, the narrative follows a group of friends whose relationship began in Charleston, SC. The narrator is Leopold Bloom King (his mother was a Joyce scholar), a likable but troubled kid who goes from having one best friend, his brother, to having no friends after a tragedy, to having, suddenly, a gang, of which he is perhaps not the leader but certainly the glue. Conroy continues to demonstrate his skill at presenting the beauty and the ugliness of the South, holding both up for inspection and, at times, admiration. He has not lost his touch for writing stories that are impossible to put down; the fast pace and shifting settings grip the reader even as the story occasionally veers toward the unbelievable. VERDICT Filled with the lyrical, funny, poignant language that is Conroy’s birthright, this is a work Conroy fans will love. — Library Journal   


The Sugarbook Book Club at the College Avenue Library will discuss Without Mercy by Lisa Jackson on Tuesday, June 8th at 6:00 p.m.

Without Mercy

Trying to help her 17-year-old sister, Shaylee, who has been sent by court order to an exclusive academy for troubled teens, Jules Farentino gets a job at the school. There she encounters ex-lover Cooper Trent, who has been hired to find a student who disappeared six months ago. Then another student is found hanged, and as the deaths continue, Jules and Cooper have only each other to trust as they seek to discover who’s behind the horrible crime spree at the school. VERDICT This best-selling and prolific author (Malice) is a master at mixing a hair-raising thriller with sensual romantic suspense. Her latest whodunit hits all the marks, taking readers on a nail-biting roller-coaster ride. It’s sure to appeal to all lovers of serious mystery, thrillers, and dark romantic suspense. — Library Journal  




Author Ray Boomhower will be on hand to participate in the discussion of his book Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary at the Irvington Library on Thursday, June 10th at 1:30 p.m.

Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary

On April 4, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., arrived in Indiana to campaign for the Indiana Democratic presidential primary. As Kennedy prepared to fly from an appearance in Muncie to Indianapolis, he learned that civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had been shot outside his hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Before his plane landed in Indianapolis, Kennedy heard the news that King had died. Despite warnings from Indianapolis police that they could not guarantee his safety, and brushing off concerns from his own staff, Kennedy decided to proceed with plans to address an outdoor rally to be held in the heart of the city’s African American community. On that cold and windy evening, Kennedy broke the news of King’s death in an impassioned, extemporaneous speech on the need for compassion in the face of violence. It has proven to be one of the great speeches in American political history. Marking the 40th anniversary of Kennedy’s Indianapolis speech, this book explains what brought the politician to Indiana that day, and explores the characters and events of the 1968 Indiana Democratic presidential primary in which Kennedy, who was an underdog, had a decisive victory. — Publisher’s note  


Alice Hoffman’s novel The Third Angel will be discussed at the Fountain Square Library on Thursday, June 10th at 1:30 p.m.

The Third Angel

Over the course of writing more than two dozen works of fiction, Hoffman has created her very own form, the heartbreak fairy tale. Her latest and one of her best is an exceptionally well-structured, beguiling, and affecting triptych of catastrophic love stories, each laced with patterns of three and anchored to a haunted London hotel. In the first and most contemporary tale, Maddy stays at the hotel while visiting her soon-to-be-married sister and falling for her sister’s fianc�Set in 1966, the middle tale features rebellious young Frieda, a college dropout working as a maid at the hotel who tries to rescue a junkie rock musician. Finally, the tragic story of the hotel’s ghost revolves around precocious young Lucy, whose inadvertent role in a fatal love triangle wounds her very soul. A kind doctor repeats the novel’s mantra when he says that we are accompanied by the Angel of Life, the Angel of Death, and the Third Angel, “the one who walks among us,” and, like us, needs compassion. Not only is Hoffman spellbinding in this incandescent fusion of dark romance and penetrating psychic insight, she also opens diverse and compelling worlds, dramatizes the shocks and revelations that forge the self, and reveals the necessity and toll of empathy and kindness. Hoffman has transcended her own genre. — Booklist   


Tracy Kidder´s Strength in What Remains will be discussed at the East 38th Street Library on Monday, June 14th at 6:00 p.m.

Strength in What Remains

With an anthropologist’s eye and a novelist’s pen, Pulitzer Prize-winning Kidder (Mountains Beyond Mountains) recounts the story of Deo, the Burundian former medical student turned American migrant at the center of this strikingly vivid story. Told in flashbacks from Deo’s 2006 return visit to Burundi to mid-1990s New York and the Burundi of childhood memory and young adulthood–as the Rwandan genocide spilled across the border following the same inflamed ethnic divisions–then picking up in 2003, when author and subject first meet, Deo’s experience is conveyed with a remarkable depth of vision and feeling. Kidder renders his subject with deep yet unfussy fidelity and the conflict with detail and nuance. While the book might recall Dave Eggers’s novelized version of a real-life Sudanese refugee’s experience in What Is the What, reading this book hardly covers old ground, but enables one to walk in the footsteps of its singular subject and see worlds new and old afresh. This profoundly gripping, hopeful and crucial testament is a work of the utmost skill, sympathy and moral clarity. — Publishers Weekly   


Be Careful What You Pray For by Kimberly Lawson Roby will be discussed at the Flanner House Library on Monday, June 14th at 6:30 p.m.

Be Careful What You Pray For

Alicia has married the up-and-coming pastor JT Valentine against the wishes of her famous zillionaire father—a character who resembles real-life megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes. Alicia loves JT and he actually loves her, and since she’s been a spoiled rotten princess all her life, JT is prepared to spoil her some more. The thing is, both of them are people to whom a decent person would give a wide berth. A budding novelist who finally uses her dad’s literary agent when no one else will take her on (and gets a big fat advance to boot!), Alicia displays greed and shallowness that would have been repugnant even in the go-go ’80s. JT’s wickedness is breathtaking; he is a flat-out, hairy-hearted sociopath. Convinced that God is ever on his side, he sees no problem with cheating on his wife with one woman after another. He lies to his women, to his wife, to his business partners. He lies when he doesn’t have to lie. Basically, he lies to everyone about everything—all the time. — BookPage  


Nathaniel Philbrick´s Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War will be discussed at the Lawrence Library on Tuesday, June 15th at 10:15 a.m.

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War

This gripping and compelling narrative of discovery, accommodation, community, and war, told through the lived experiences of the region’s Native American and European inhabitants, will help dispel many of the myths that have come to be associated with the Pilgrims, Puritans, and American Indian leaders. Native American leaders and the Praying Indians who served as spies and scouts emerge as key figures in the unfolding drama of colonization, accommodation, and conquest. A heavy reliance on the firsthand accounts of Increase Mather, William Bradford, Mary Rowlandson, and others (including Native American oral traditions) enables Philbrick to craft a narrative that covers every significant event from 1620 through the aftermath of King Philip’s War in rich and meticulous historical detail . . . This is historical narrative at its best–dramatic, emotional, perceptive, and thought provoking–a great read for general readers and scholars alike. — Choice   


The Pike Library will host a discussion of Tracy Chevalier´s novel Girl with a Pearl Earring on Tuesday, June 22nd at 6:30 p.m.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

Inspired by Vermeer’s painting of the same name, Chevalier creates an elegant and intriguing story of how a young peasant girl came to have her portrait painted. It is seventeenth-century Holland, and 16-year-old Griet is obliged to take a job as a maid for the artist Vermeer after her father loses his eyesight in an accident. She does the laundry, cares for the six children, and cleans house, but her easy manner and natural artistic perceptions ingratiate her to Vermeer, and she finds herself drawn into his world–mixing colors, cleaning his studio, and standing in for his models. This new intimacy between master and servant crosses strict social divisions, inspires jealousy in his wife, Catharina, as well as the other maid, and sparks rumors in town. At the insistence of his patron, Vermeer paints Griet wearing his wife’s pearl earring. When Catharina sees the painting, a scandal erupts, and Griet is forced to make some life-altering decisions. This is a beautiful story of a young girl’s coming-of-age, and it is delightful speculative fiction about the subject in a painting by an Old Master. — Booklist   


Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line by Martha Sandweiss will be discussed at the Spades Park Library on Thursday, June 24th at 6:00 p.m.

Passing Strange

Sandweiss serves a delicious brew of public accomplishment and domestic intrigue in this dual biography of the geologist-explorer Clarence King (1842-1901) and Ada Copeland (c. 1861-1964), a “black, working-class woman” who was “born a slave.” Rendered as fiction, this true tale, would seem quite implausible–“a model son of Newport and one of the most admired scientists in America,” Clarence kept secret for 13 years his marriage to Ada and their apparently contented domestic life. He kept his patrician past and celebrated present concealed as well from his wife, who believed herself the wife of James Todd, a black Pullman porter. Sandweiss provides a fascinating account of King’s “extraordinary double life as an eminent white scientist and a black workingman”; Ada’s struggle “through the legal system to assert her rightful name, give her children their true familial history, and [unsuccessfully] claim the trust fund she believed to be hers”; and rich insights into the “distinctive American ideas about race” that allowed King to “pass the other way across the color line, claiming African ancestry when he had none at all.” — Publishers Weekly   


Dennis Lehane’s thriller Shutter Island will be discussed at the Franklin Road Library on Thursday, June 24th at 6:30 p.m.

Shutter Island Although not a part of Lehane’s appealing series about private investigator Patrick Kenzie and ex-partner Angie Gennaro, this crime thriller is probably Lehane’s best book to date. Off the coast of Massachusetts is rather grim, gray, and forbidding Shutter Island, a penal colony for the criminally insane. Federal marshals Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule are sent there to find a woman prisoner who has apparently disappeared. But how and where did she go? The island is heavily guarded, as is the twice-weekly supply ferry. Teddy also has another agenda: he seeks the man who killed his wife two years ago. Things are not what they seem as Chuck and Teddy, plagued by migraines and nightmares, dig deeper into the secrets that the island holds. At one point, they are the objects of a manhunt during a hurricane that isolates the island. Teddy pulls off some interesting stunts, especially in the water. Things reach such a pitch that you don’t know whom to believe, which all leads to an ending worthy of Agatha Christie or O. Henry. — Library Journal  


Jane Green’s novel The Beach House will be discussed at the Southport Library on Monday, June 28th at 7:00 p.m.

The Beach HouseSixty-five-year-old Nan Powell has lived comfortably and happily in Nantucket since the suicide of her husband, Everett, so she is thrown for a loop when she learns that she is in danger of losing her beloved house. After weighing her options, Nan decides to turn her home into a bed-and-breakfast. The guests she gets for the summer are all at a crossroads in their lives in one way or another. Daniel has just separated from his wife and is facing something he has denied for years; Daff is recovering from the heartbreak of a divorce and getting a much-needed break from her anger-filled 13-year-old daughter; and Nan’s son Michael is on the run from a disastrous affair. Nan finds herself opening up to her guests and enjoying their company, but she is shocked when she discovers a person close to one of them has a startling connection to her. Peopled with likable, flawed, realistic characters and moving seamlessly between them, this is Green’s best novel in years, a compelling, unputdownable read. — Booklist


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