Book Club Discussion: Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

Labor Day movie tie-inYesterday evening, I led the fiction book club at One More Page books in our discussion of Labor Day by Joyce Maynard.

To start off the meeting, we enjoyed a delicious pie baked by Tiffany, one of the book club members. She didn’t use a recipe, instead baking the pie based on the information relayed in the book.  This picture can’t capture just how delicious it was! Even better, it was still warm from the oven!

photo

After the delicious pie, we began our discussion. Following are the major points we discussed:

  • Despite the author’s explanation, we couldn’t accept that Adele would offer to give Frank a ride, then allowing them in their home. She was a homebody, only leaving the house once every several weeks. Additionally, we felt that her past of miscarriages and stillbirths would cause her to be overly protective of Henry, the one child she does have. Then, to have a consensual sexual relationship with Frank seemed a bit far-fetched. We all admitted to being able to suspend disbelief while reading fiction but, for many of us, this was one thing we couldn’t get over.
  • There were a few members who admitted to forming a crush on Frank. We won’t mention any names :)
  • The book implies that this all happened on Labor Day weekend. Again, a little difficult to accept. A great deal transpired in that one weekend if that was the case. Maybe a little too much, hence our disbelief.
  • While many were able to get over the far-fetched aspects of this novel and become enamored with the story, there were still quite a few that couldn’t get over these issues. Personally, I couldn’t get over them either but instead focused my reading of the book around Henry’s passages. To me, it seemed the only way I could really see past all the issues and it was Henry’s story that seemed the most genuine and believable to me.

As the moderator of the book club. I am glad we did step outside my “comfort zone” and read a book I probably wouldn’t have picked otherwise. The bottom line, however (and it’s really difficult to admit to this!) is that we tend to think the movie will be better than the book, as if it how this story was meant to be told.

We’re planning on seeing the movie together as a group in the next few weeks. I’ll report back then & let you know our thoughts!

Have you read the book and seen the movie? What did you think? Oh, and OMP book club members! If I left anything out about our discussion, please do add it in the comments below!

Book Club Discussion: Favorite Books of 2013

In addition to blogging, working full-time and raising a family, I am also the fiction book club leader at One More Page Books.  Each January we have a unique way of celebrating the first meeting of the year. Held right after the holidays, I knew many of the book club members wouldn’t have time to read a book for discussion. Instead, we do a book potluck in which members were asked to bring in a book they’ve read recently that the really enjoyed. There were no guidelines on the book, it could be recently published or published years ago, or in some cases, not yet published.

I have to say, I was quite interested in the range of books presented at the meeting last night! I was even more impressed by the number of book club members who braved the single-digit temps to come to the meeting!  Following is a list of books mentioned:

 

*My selections

Other books mentioned by multiple members of the group were S. by J.J Abrams and Doug Dorst and Night Film by Marisha Pessl as well as the Taker trilogy by Alma Katsu.

Quite the eclectic group of books, yes?

Next month, we’re exciting to be participating in the Labor Day Book-to-Film Book Club! We won copies of Labor Day by Joyce Maynard to read and discuss as a group as well as tickets to see the movie (starring Kate Winslet &Josh Brolin) following the discussion.  I’ve always wanted to take part in a book to movie club! We’re all really looking forward to this opportunity!

Book Club Discussion: Favorite Books of 2012

 

As the fiction book club leader at One More Page Books, I wanted to come up with a unique way to celebrate our January meeting. Held right after the holidays, I knew many of the book club members wouldn’t have time to read a book for discussion. Instead, I opted to do a book potluck in which members were asked to bring in a book they’ve read recently that the really enjoyed. There were no guidelines on the book, it could be recently published or published years ago, or in some cases, not yet published.

I have to say, I was quite interested in the range of books presented. Following is a list of books mentioned:

*My selections

Quite the eclectic group of books, yes? Are you in a book club? What were your favorite books read in 2012?

Review: Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (March 13, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0312591829
  • Source: Publisher

Andi waited all of her life to find the perfect man, finally finding him at age thirty-seven. Ethan is a wonderful man: hardworking, loving, dedicated. He’s a divorced father of two girls. While Andi wanted a family of her own, joining a ready-made family wasn’t a part of the plan. Yet it was hard not to fall in love with this package, this family.  The girls, Emily and Sophie, haven’t has the best life growing up. Their mother, an alcoholic, barely acknowledges their existence during their visits. Her kitchen is bare and she spends most of the time drinking wine, believing it is up to the girls to fend for themselves. For this reason, Andi at first overlooks the attitude Ethan’s oldest daughter, Emily, gives her from the beginning.

Starving for love and attention from her father, Emily despises Andi. Like many teenagers, she craves independence yet doesn’t want to relinquish the love and attention from her father. From beginning of Ethan’s relationship with Andi, there has been tension between his new love and his oldest daughter.

The tension grows and continues over the years. When Emily hits the rebellious teen years, Andi attempts to reign Emily in, disciplining her for her misbehavior. Ethan, on the other hand, deep down wants to do the same thing yet ultimately relinquishes to Emily.  This causes a great deal of strain on his relationship with Andi. This isn’t something Andi signed up for and, already stressed by her infertility, she struggles with balancing her wants and desires with that of the rest of the family.

When Emily’s careless behavior brings upon a situation that will forever change her life, and the lives of the rest of her family, Andi’s resolve is truly tested. Can she give up the life she’s dreamed of since childhood and continue to have this tumultuous relationship with Emily? Ultimately, it’s fate perhaps that makes this decision for her. She doesn’t what she wanted during the means she planned, but perhaps that’s the way it was meant to be. There’s a saying that states it’s not the destination but the path to that destination. This truly comes into play with this family.

Another Piece of My Heart
examines relationships, both marital and family, at their very core. The journeys that each of the main characters take are tumultuous, not easy, but ultimately life-changing in the end. The characters were each well ironed out, yet I didn’t feel I made a very deep connection with any of them.  While I sympathized for what Andi was going through there were several times in which her actions irritated me. Granted, the life she chose didn’t pan out the way she thought it would, but life is full of sacrifices. Thankfully, by the end of the book, she redeemed herself and I was better able to appreciate her character. Ethan, on the other hand, infuriated me to know end. I just wanted to shake him, to wake him up from the fog he was living in. To me, it took far too long for him to stick up to his daughter. Speaking of Emily, egads was she a girl riddled with issues. Again, the overall outcome was favorable and perhaps she had to make these mistakes, but her ride to success was a bumpy one. Unlike Andi’s character, it took me much longer to appreciate Emily, to find any sense of appreciation or understanding of her character.

While there were quite a few cliches throughout the novel and I often find myself puzzled as to why the author decided upon a particular outcome, the message the book portrays is a valuable one. Quoting Emily:

Life may not have turned out the way any of us expected…but today it feels like it is all supposed to be, it all happened for a reason, even though we couldn’t see it at the time.

Another Piece of My Heart , despite the few issues I had, is full of topics and themes that would generate a great deal of discussion, thereby making it the perfect book group choice. Recommended.

Don’t have a book club of your own? Not to worry, for the SheKnows Book Club will be discussing this book tonight, April 26th, 5 to 6 p.m. PST/8 to 9 p.m. EST. The chat will take place on Jane Green’s Facebook page.

Can’t join the chat but have questions for the author? Post them here and I’ll ask them on your behalf!

Review: Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (January 25, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1565126319
  • Source: Publisher
  • One foggy night, two women both running from unhappy marriages, are quite literally brought together when their cars collide.  April, mother of Sam, a severely asthmatic boy, is killed instantly.  Sam escapes the accident by running into the nearby forest.  While Isabelle is not held responsible for April’s death, she can’t seem to get over the guilt of killing another person.

    As she recovers, Isabelle finds herself drawn to Sam and his father, Charlie. She walks down their street, she watches Sam at the playground.  When Sam sees her, he recognizes her from the accident but believes she’s an angel, a messenger for his mother. He, in turn, follows her back to her home, ultimately forming the first of two very complicated relationships.

    Isabelle introduces Sam to photography.  Due to his asthma, Sam is unable to participate in any sports, have any pets, but photography is one thing he can do. 

    “Sometimes photographs show things that aren’t there.  You have to learn to look deeper, to see what might be hidden.”

    The second of the two complicated relationships is between Charlie and Isabelle.  Drawn together by their shared feeling of loss and guilt, they struggle to find meaning and a place for this relationship.  All three of the characters, Charlie, Isabelle, and Sam, struggle to find happiness.  The true test is whether this happiness is found together, or apart.

    Pictures of You is a beautiful and absorbing book of love, loss, and guilt.  Each of the main characters uncover secrets or deal with painful pasts in order to seek the happiness they deserve.  Leavitt does an outstanding job of capturing the loss, the grief, and recovery they suffer.  Told in alternating points of view, while the reader gets to experience the accident in three different viewpoints, one can’t help but wonder which is the most accurate.

    Admittedly, there were times in which I grew angry at the road the author was taking with the characters. I literally had to put the book down and take a break for a few hours, even a few days.  Ultimately, however, I appreciated these choices & understood how integral they were for the overall storyline.

    Pictures of You is the perfect book for a reading group discussion, as a matter of fact it was the May selection for the book club I lead at One More Page Books.  There are so many aspects to be discussed, including how each of the characters deal with grief and recovery.  Believe it or not, we went out on a tangent and compared this book with how the family in AMC’s The Killing deal with the loss of a loved one!

    Bottom line: read it.  You won’t regret it.

    March Book Club: These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

    DC/MD/VA Book lovers! Join me on Tuesday, March 1 at 7 pm at One More Page Books as we discuss These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf. 

    Allison Glenn tried to hide what happened that night…and failed. The consequence? Five years in prison. Now she’s free. But secrets have a way of keeping you caged…When Allison is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls’ golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult in her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces the whispered rumours every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It’s Brynn – shy, quiet Brynn – who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her. But then Allison is released, and is more determined than ever to speak with her sister. Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

    For more details and to RSVP, visit the Facebook event page!