Sunday, November 23, 2014

William Kent Krueger visits Park Grove Library, December 1, 2014

Park Grove Library, Cottage Grove offered a special night "Book Club Special Edition with William Kent Krueger."  What a wonderful evening it was.  The staff at Park Grove estimated there were around 80 people attending.  It really was a packed house!  The Book Club Members, along with our library liaison, helped to set a feast of treats along with coffee, tea and water.  It really was a grand evening, and if you missed it, watch for another author visit in 2015.

We introduced our Book Club as this was "Book Club Special Edition" series, and hope that others will consider joining our group.  Anyone is welcomed to participate with us.

William Kent Krueger, said "Call me Kent" and set off on a journey of storytelling that left us fascinated and intrigued.  He first shared the story of a young high school student who asked him how old he was.  First off, he shared, High Schoolers are at times, difficult to talk to, but here he was in southwest MN and a student asked a question, so he answered.  He said "64."  She was a writer herself and wanted to know how long will it be before something might "happen."  He told her to be patient, time will come to you.  He shared that it is a journey to be a writer and he was on a spiritual journey while writing his books, including Ordinary Grace.

He shared one incredible poem he wrote when in the 5th Grade, "The Lone Wolf." If I had been his teacher at that time I think I would have asked for an autographed copy.  Time showed that this man was destined for some stories that would leave  quite an impression on the heart of his readers.

Kent Krueger shared a bit of how he came to write "Ordinary Grace."  He shared that he vividly remembers being 13 years old and what it was like the summer of '61.  It was a start of a spiritual journey and also about story telling.

He read a part of the funeral of the "itinerant" in chapter 7.  "In the early afternoon  my father got himself ready for the burial" he started and read to the end of the burial where Jake's father asked "Gus, would you like a hand?"  "No, Captain," Gus said.  "I've got all day and I intend to take my time."  Kent stated:  I believe there is a great spirit that runs all creation.  We are born, simply come out of that great loving heart and when we die we go back to that great loving heart."

It was absolutely delightful to hear this author read from his book.  It was such a treasure to hear his expression, his voice lift the words off the page as he read to us.  He answered several questions the audience had and then shared one more piece of information:  a new book.  He is writing a companion piece that he hopes to release in the spring of 2016.  "This Tender Land."

Thank you to all who came out to listen to Kent Krueger share in his talent and his gift of word.  We are forever blessed by this event.  Thank you to the Park Grove Library, our liaison and Washington County Library for allowing the funding for this event. 
updated 1.4.15

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

Thanks to G.B. for notes for this months topic -- There was a lively and compelling discussion among fourteen members of the Park Grove Library Book Club on Tuesday, November 18 around M. L. Stedman’s debut novel, The Light Between Oceans.  We welcomed a new member, Wendy.  She belongs to a book club in Edina, and as a Cottage Grove resident, decided to check us out.  We benefited from some of her keen insights, are happy she decided to join us, and hope she will continue as part of our group.

Our leader led the discussion, and as we introduced ourselves, we were asked to state the person in the book with whom we felt the most empathy.  The answers were all over the place!  A couple of members mentioned Tom, and a couple mentioned Isabel, and a couple mentioned Lucy Grace.  But Frank, Septimus, Bluey, and even Isabel’s parents received votes.  This is something we felt was important to note – Stedman created so many rich characters, and the moral ambiguity inherent in the book was so over-arching, that it was hard to figure out who we should feel the sorriest for.  There was unanimous agreement that the book was excellent and extremely well written, though one member, a new mother, was so emotionally impacted by the story that she could not finish it.

It was noted that the lighthouse has been a source of myth-making in literature – standing for sanctuary, and the edge of knowledge and reason.  And that Janus Rock was named for Janus, the Roman God of doorways, “always looking both ways, torn between two ways of seeing things.”  The image of sanctuary and the notion of opposites (looking in two ways) were interesting to talk about as was the dichotomy of light and dark, war and peace, truth and lies, safety and danger, and how those things framed the choices that Tom and Isabel made.   We also spent time talking about isolation and morality – more specifically:  Is it easier to make a choice when you don’t see the effect of your choice on someone else?  In this story, isolation allowed Isabel to deny the consequences of her actions, but Tom felt less ambiguous and had a stronger moral compass even though he lived on a daily basis in the same isolation as Isobel.  This may have been due to the clear and unchanging structure around his job responsibilities (the many regulations, the logbook, specifics around the light, etc.) 

Unfulfilled duty haunted Tom.  He was scarred by what he witnessed in the war and felt he had let others down.  He was determined to be better as a light keeper.  So he could not forget the blank he left in the logbook which should have been filled with documentation of Frank and the baby’s beached boat.  But as the story progressed, his own moral dilemma grew to include not only the decision to tell a lie and to keep Lucy knowing the impact that would have on Hannah, but also his obligation to Isabel, who he deeply loved, as her husband.  His job in life was to keep the light burning – nothing more.  And he determined to do this for Isabel, knowing that to tell the truth and to return Lucy could snuff her light out forever.  As he sought to make the best of things, and to assure Hannah that Lucy was alive and well, he was willing to put his own life in jeopardy so that each of them were hurt as little as possible in the process.  Sadly, the circumstances were such that no one could win.    

Someone pointed out that Lucy means light and Grace means God is with us.  She rightly noted that so much depended on this child to bring happiness to so many people.

An interesting interview with the author can be found at here

Monday, November 3, 2014

William Kent Krueger visits Park Grove Library, Monday November 10 at 6:30 pm

Park Grove Library, Cottage Grove is offering a special night "Book Club Special Edition with William Kent Krueger."  We are looking forward to discuss his book Ordinary Grace, which the Park Grove Library Book Club just finished reading and discussing.  We are so excited that the Washington County Library and Park Grove Library has allowed this event to happen and they have stated that the funding for this event is possible due to money from Minnesota's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

We would love to have the community share this evening with us and cherish that we have this time with William Kent Krueger.  Join us for some refreshment and a treat!

ALSO OUR MONTHLY BOOK CLUB WILL MEET Tuesday, November 18 we will discuss Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. We would love to have anyone join us for this discussion!

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Tuesday, October 28 Park Grove Branch Library Book Club discussed Ordinary  Grace by William Kent Krueger.  Fourteen members were present and all agreed this was a wonderful book.

One member said the book was "so descriptive."  She liked how he used the train tracks in the story, about going somewhere and about Frank becoming a man.  "Really touched my heart" another member commented and she enjoyed the scene at the end of the book where Frank and Jake were at the cemetery with their dad.  "I appreciated how the book promoted forgiveness."  We have a crisis, we are given grace, God is there to keep us moving and we have to get our strength from God someone said. One member said she liked "the iron in his father's voice" and the part written "smoke hung around his mother like she was on fire."  Another shared that she could "envision the places and the boys.  Also touched by the role of religion in helping cope with challenges."  "I felt exactly what I could see, hear and smell while walking down the train tracks" a comment from a member.  Many read the book a few times, even within the month!

We talked of two graces that were in the book, Awful Grace which Nathan Drum talks about "My father used to quote Greek Playwright Aeschylus. 'He who learns must suffer.  And even in our sleep pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our own will comes wisdom through the awful Grace of God." The other Ordinary Grace, the grace that came in not big powerful ways.  So simple even as Gus digging the graves so carefully and with concern for those who have passed.  Nathan Drum visiting the families, even Warren Redstone's family when they were "talked about" in the community.  Frank letting Warren Redstone walk away when the law enforcement were looking for him was one example and another was Jake's stuttering stopped.  Ruth Drum's asking for just an ordinary grace after Ariel's funeral, given by Jake.

We talked about the roles played by the various characters, the red herrings, someone to dislike, questioning and prejudices.  Was the setting New Ulm?  Two members had their list ready to show evidence of why they thought it was New Ulm and many loved that part.  Another member went to college there and was reading the book while in a COFFEE SHOP IN NEW ULM!

Many members loved this part in the book:  "Loss, once it's become a certainty, is like a rock you hold in your hand. It has weight and dimension and texture. It's solid and can be asessed and dealt with. You can use it to beat yourself or you can throw it away."

We could put ourselves into this story and feel the connection.  We felt the grief and the people coming together to help each other.  A few of us thought this reminded us so much of To Kill a Mockingbird.  This too, we felt, was a classic book.  A book that reaches deep into your soul.