Monday, September 29, 2014

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Tuesday, October 28 at Park Grove library we will be discussing William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace.

Published in 2013, this stand alone novel (verses his many fans favorite Cork O’Connor series) will have us in discussion BEFORE WE GET TO LISTEN TO WILLIAM KENT KRUEGER SHARE SOME DETAILS OF THIS BOOK!  Monday, November 10 we will be able to hear from the author at Park Grove Library.

YES -- William Kent Krueger will be a visiting author open to the public at Park Grove Library in Cottage Grove, Monday, November 10.

Here is an excerpt from his web page about Ordinary Grace.

"That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word."

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson's Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family—which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

Told from Frank's perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende

A few of the book club members had said they too have journaled in years past if not currently.  Many said they had done this in their youth with the diary that has a lock and key.  Many journal for therapeutic reasons which we felt Maya needed.  In the beginning of the story, Maya writes "She handed me a hundred-page notebook so I could keep a diary, as I did from the age of eight until I was fifteen, when my life went off the rails.  'You're going to have time to get bored, Maya.  Take advantage of it to write down the monumental stupidities you're committed, see if you can come to grips with them' she said {her grandmother Nini said}.  Several of my diaries are still in existence, sealed with industrial-strength adhesive tape.  My grandfather kept them under lock and key in his desk for years, and now my Nini has them in a shoebox under her bed.  This will be notebook number nine.  My Nini believes they'll be of use to me when I get psychoanalyzed, because they contain the keys to untie the knots of my personality; but if she'd read them, she'd know they contain a huge pile of tales tall enough to outfox Freud himself."

Maya's story has some tall tales but in this novel they are intriguing and at times, may be what some people really do go through with their life story.  She is a survivor and the journey she took through this notebook, her notebook, proves that she is able to grow by telling her story.

Eleven people attended the discussion of the book and two shared they were not big fans of the book.  "Half way through it was too dark and frustrating" one said, but others said it was interesting to learn about Chile, it's country and the people.  They enjoyed how the author, Isabel Allende,"brings in so much politics, magic realist, religion, current events and so many other facets."  "Flashbacks in the story were easy to follow, it was natural to hear story."

One person who wasn't sold on the book said that she abandoned reading it as it didn't feel authentic.  It didn't sound like a voice of a teenager, felt older.  This person, did apprediate "Popo" as a redeeming character.

Reading a book from Berkley area was what one person liked as she grew up in Hayward, close by.  She said she knew of a house like Nini's and Popo's.  She said the book had that "curiosity and able to dive back into the book; it was a good read for me."  Someone found it curious and learned a lot of the politics from those years.  Humorous at the end they said.  It was a coming of the age book, dealing with loss and "who do I belong to, friends or family."

There were interesting characters in the book, including Brandon Leman, who she met in Vegas.  "He used her, but protected her."  Freddie "helped look out for her, like a brother.  She cared about him and he cared for her."  Daniel "Didn't like him, used her." another person wondered if they are going to get back together?  Will there be a sequel?

It was a mystery of how Manuel fit into the situation with Nini in her earlier years.  Some of us thought there might be some previous connection.  It was also a mystery about Officer Arana.  There were twists and turns in the story that kept you intrigued and wanting to find out how it ended.

From a 19 year old who struggles to survive we see emergence as she tries to find her way in the world.  Along the journey Allende brings characters that help her, each with their own story and path.  From the Chiloe, secluded island, to Chile to California, our journey in this book takes us to a place where we see healing and empowerment.

One member of our Book Club shared a video of Isabel Allende speaking at Ted Talks.  Click here for that message.