Tuesday, February 23, 2016

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Thirteen members attended this book club event. The majority of the members LOVED the book, "read it in 24 hours" one said and another "on my top five list of anything I’ve ever read."  A few liked it but they added "I didn’t care for the chronology and how it jumped around" and "difficult to read in bursts – needed to sit down and really focus."  No one in the crowd said they didn't like it, some just liked it more than others.

A member took notes for me at this meeting and this is her post:

We talked about radios and their role in controlling the message – like the internet in other countries even today – an instrument of the political powers.  Narration moved back and forth between time and characters – some liked that style and others didn’t.  Question was asked of which character we enjoyed the most. Several were mentioned… Werner – Etienne – Jutta – Madame Manec – Marie Laure  Madame Manec asks Etienne “Don’t you want to live before you die?” We discussed this quote and what she might have meant. The rĂ©sistance was doing many things – seemingly passive things – like changing street signs, but their work was very important. Blindness was discussed. The bravery of Marie-Laure as she had eventually learned to get around in one city, then lost her father and learned a second place.  The question was asked about Werner’s bravest moment. Someone mentioned when he confronted Von Rumpel.  What moments were the bravest for other characters? For her father when he was arrested. For Volkheimer in the basement of the hotel of Bees.  Did you like the flashing forward at the end of the book to the 70s? Most people did.

On a personal note from me, the blogger:  I absolutely thought this was one of the best books I have read, and agree with one of the members, it was a top of the list, maybe top 25 books I would recommend to others.  So glad I purchased it and can share it.

The book made me think at how those who lived in Germany at that time were a part of a culture that accepted what was being said and shared as good and right.  But, then some found out it wasn't right, it wasn't good.  It must  have been very hard for those to walk that line and I'm sure there were many that felt that way.  What devastation to those affected by wars and to have a disability while living in Europe during the war so affected families.  Also loved the fact that the artifact of the arts was portrayed in this novel.  Amazing to think of that they had teams or people that would go out and search for this historical art and remove it.  At least they didn't destroy it.

Wonderful book and if you are reading this and weren't at the discussion, I think we missed a lot by not being a part of a group discussion.  Great Book, wonderful read!

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Fifteen members shared discussion of this classic favorite.  Most liked or loved it!

One member said it was interesting "how different from our current adult fiction, slower than what is written today."  It was written almost 75 years ago, written in 1943.  Some of us had read the book before (one person read it three times) and some reading it the first time!  One person said "I can't believe I am the age I am and haven't read this book.  Enjoyed it and if I had read in junior high would have loved it!  It's like Anne of Green Gables, well written, an older book."  One person said it was her favorite book when younger but she had a different perspective then.  Another person said she read it 40 years ago and remembered she couldn't "get into it."  She listened to audio this time and really enjoyed it.

One person said she loved the descriptions in the book and loved how it ended, with the tree and all the details.  Another member said "liked the slow pace, calming and peaceful.  When you live life out of necessity, you grow up so fast."  Another said: "Even though Francie was young, she was very independent."

"I discovered books can take you places," like Francie did when she was younger.  This member liked the older characters and brought in some autograph books of her mothers!

A favorite quote of one member was "Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time:  Thus is your time on earth filled with glory."  Good lesson, this member said!

One reader said she grew up very poor but she still had plenty to eat, but if you lived in the city like this, it would be hard to find food.  Another reader was concerned that Francie didn't get the love from her mother, but she was surrounded by love.

We talked about the stories that were in the book, Francie running around barefoot, turning items into money, the Christmas tree story, and about the love of learning. Back then students didn't get help when they were in poverty, now we have services that might help.

Francie grew up among the obstacles, she survived, growing against all odds.  She became a strong woman, just like the Tree that Grew in Brooklyn -- against all odds.