Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie


Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Winner Mary Logue will be at Park Grove Library at 6:30 pm,  Monday, April 25 as a part of the Daytime Park Grove Book Club.  Please join the group in hearing this author speak!

From her web page she shared this information:
I would have wanted to be a writer when I was a child if I had known it was possible.  When I could only read two words: "you" and "I," I went through a wholebook and circled them. I knew reading was the key to the rest of the world. I wrote my first mystery when I was in sixth grade—it was about a mysterious trail around a pond. I continue to write about mysterious trails around Lake Pepin in my Claire Watkins mystery series. Some things never change.
Poetry, however, is the foundation of my work. I have written four books of poetry, my latest is Hand Work, which came out in 2009. This book was the result of an experiment to write a poem a day for a year. I have also published a young adult novel, Dancing with an Alien, and the Bloodwater mysteries with Pete Hautman. My non-fiction books include a biography of my grandmother, Halfway Home, and a book on Minnesota courthouses, both published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.
I was an editor at the Village Voice, Graywolf Press, and The Creative Company.  I've published articles in the Village Voice, the New York Times and the Hungry Mind Review. For many years I taught at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Currently, I'm on faculty in the low-residency Children's Literature MFA program at Hamline University in St. Paul.
I am bi-riverbank, living on both sides of the Mississippi, with writer Pete Hautman in Minnesota and Wisconsin. And Rene and Jacques, our toy poodles.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Most of the dozen members attending the discussion The Fault in Our Stars gave this a big thumbs up -- a 4 out of 5 stars and none gave it less than 3 star rating!   Our leader was thanked for adding this to our list this year.

Although many of us felt it was a teen book, some took offense to that description because it was a book about teens but was for any age to read.  "We read deeper books as adults, this wasn't as deep; it would be good for kids, so many kids are dealing with cancer.   I can see why it touches teenagers" one member commented.  One member said "I enjoyed it, it was a good book, a teen book with good thoughts about illness, death and afterlife."

Someone said she liked it and said how she loved that "a male author 'gets' a woman's voice."  One member saw the movie first, this past summer, on break from getting treatment for breast cancer.  Another could relate to it because her husband and a friend had cancer and it was stage IV before they found out; she too had cancer.  Another said it was just good to read a variety of books, something different!  Another agreed saying it was "fresh air" from all the heavy readings lately.  He "kept the language light hearted, not too draining."

Our discussion leader had selected this book because her son had read it in middle school and had a lot of questions while reading.  A student at his middle school had cancer and died from it.  She liked reading it from a "mom" perspective.

We talked about some of the parts that were written into the book, one was the book An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten (a part of fiction for the novel).  This was a big part of the novel and many aspects were brought into the book through this.  We discussed the questions Hazel and Gus had about the mother in the novel.  What happens to her.  It was like Hazel was questioning was her own mother going to be ok if she died from cancer?  What was going to happen to her mother?  We were not happy with Peter Van Houten!  We also liked that through this, Gus and Helen were able to go to Amsterdam and even the Anne Frank House.  We talked about the part where she saw the list of names, including Ann's and below it, four Aron Frank's.  She questioned who were these other Franks?  It brought the questions:  "What's left of me when gone?  Who will remember us and what will they remember?"

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs was also written into the book and we shared discussion on our thoughts about this.  We talked about the support group at "the heart of Jesus."  "The Support Group...met every Wednesday in the basement of a stone walled Episcopal church shaped like a cross.  We all sat in a circle right in the middle of the cross, where the two boards would have met, where the heart of Jesus would have been."  We also like the reference of Indiana, as a member of our book club grew up and is from there.

We discussed our views about cancer and death, how it is viewed currently as to years ago and how it affects us at all age levels.  There were a few people who had seen the movie and now most of us at the book club, are looking forward to seeing it.  Others, too, are interested in reading more John Green book.

In Chapter 7 Peter Van Houten writes to Gus and quotes Shakespear "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves."  Taking that quote and using part of it for the book was fitting, but one member said "the fault wasn't in the kids, they can't be blamed."  Fitting, it wasn't their lives that was an issue, it was the cancer that affected them.