Friday, September 2, 2011

Agawam Pageturners' Book Discussion of The Red Thread by Ann Hood

The group had a good discussion about The Red Thread. Most liked the book. The book tells the story of six couples who for various reasons want to adopt baby girls from China. Maya, who has founded The Red Thread Adoption Agency, is their guide to getting these babies. She has had her own tragedy; her baby girl died when she dropped her getting her out of the bathtub. She leaves her husband Adam in Hawaii, and forms a new life in Rhode Island by starting the agency, connecting hundreds of couples with children. Besides hearing the stories of the American families looking to adopt, the book also told the stories of the Chinese families putting the girl up for adoption. People thought the book did a good job of showing real characters with diverse stories. Some thought some of the plot lines were contrived, but others thought these devices were the author's prerogative. Others thought there was too much sex in the book. Other than those comments people enjoyed the book.

Night Bookers' Book Club's Discussion of Revere Beach Boulevard by Roland Merullo

The group had a great discussion about this book. Most people liked the book. They were drawn into the characters. They thought the plot was great; they were always waiting for the shoe to drop. Some thought the plot was dark. Others disagreed because of the bonds between the family members were so strong. The story is about an Italian family in Revere. The son Peter has a gambling addiction, and he is in trouble with his debt to the mob. He has a sister Joanie, who is a news anchor in Boston investigating the mob. Their mother Lucy is terminally ill. The father, Vito, tries to talk to the head of the mob, Eddie, to offer to payoff his son's debt. Everybody has secrets from one another. Alfonse is a cop who is a family friend who tries to help the family. Elsie loves Peter despite his addiction and problems. One person commented that the book really nailed down the picture of addiction for the addicted and the family and friends of the addicted. People enjoyed discussing and found a lot to talk about in this book.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Agawam Pageturners' Book Discussion of Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

The group had a lively discussion about Russian Winter. People felt the book was well written. Some said they could feel what the main character, Nina, was thinking. People also felt the vocabulary was descriptive. Some, though, thought the plot was too much for one book and would have like to seen it broken up into two books. Nina was a star ballerina in Stalin's Russia after World War II. Ballet was the most important thing in her life. She defects to the West, leaving her husband after she thinks he has betrayed her for another woman. In her later years, in Boston, she decides to sell her jewels, which surprisingly links her past up with Russian literature professor Grigori Solodin in an interesting twist. One person thought the book was one of the best the group has ever discussed. The group enjoyed discussing the book, and some have recommended it to friends.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Night Bookers' Book Club's Discussion of All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

The group had a difficult time reading All the Pretty Horses. There was not puncuation to distinguish who was speaking. Spanish phrases were included with no translation or footnotes. One person said the book seemed to have been written as a stream of consciousness. The story is of sixteen year old John Grady Cole and Lacey Rawlins who ride into Mexico in meet up with Jimmy Blevins, and find themselves in a lot of trouble. John falls for the granddaughter of the owner of the hacienda John is working for. Even though it won the National Book Award of 1992, the group overall did not enjoy the book. The group did find John Grady Cole an interesting character and we had a good discussion of the book.

Agawam Pageturners' Book Discussion of The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The group had an enjoyable discussion of The Art of Racing in the Rain. Most liked the book. The book is told through the viewpoint of a golden retriever, Enzo, who is dying. People were fascinated that Enzo sensed Eve was seriously ill, until others pointed out that science has proven that animals have this sense to be alert to cancer, drops in blood sugar, seizure, and more. Enzo is a faithful companion to his owner Denny Swift, a race car driver. There was much talk about race car driving, that many disliked and skipped over. Someone else pointed out that there were zen moments in race car driving that the author was trying to point out. Those that who have or have had animals loved this book. Those who never had animals, while liking the book, were surprised how much the group spent talking about animals including personal experiences. Another point brought up was the Mongol belief that dogs become reincarnated as men. Some believed it, and some did not. The book definite viewpoint on this subject, seen especially at the very end. This book was great for discussion.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Night Bookers' Book Club's Discussion of Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg

The group had a lively discussion about Elizabeth Berg's book Range of Motion. It is a fictional account of a woman dealing with her husband being in a coma for three months, and not knowing if he would wake up. Some found the story and the main character, Lainey, uplifting. Some were surprised to find the story not morbid. Others found the story too unrealistic, and too unbelievable. Some found Lainey too strong and the ending too neat. Others argued Lainey was in turmoil because she kept seeing a "ghost," who kept giving her advice. They said this indicated inner conflict. Others pointed out that Lainey's friend Alice saw the "ghost" too, but another person pointed out that she was going through her own turmoil. Alice thought her husband was cheating on her with another woman. Well, he was cheating on her but not with a woman but with a man. A good discussion was enjoyed by all.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Agawam Pagetruners' Book Club's Discussion of When I Am an Old Worman I Shall Wear Purple Edited by Sandra Martz

The group had very strong feelings about this book. With the exception of a few stories, everyone hated this book. The book is a collection of images, essays, short stories, and poems on women in aging. Everyone felt the collection was too negative and maudlin. The book made everybody depressed. Some did not finish the book. Everyone said they did not want to think that they were old. One women said that we are evolving as human beings. There were a couple of stories that people liked: the lion story where the main character immerses herself in another culture and is totally changed the rest of her life. Another like the story about a wealthy man trying to buy up all the antique quilts of an older woman. Her daughter keeps trying to get her to sell all of them, even the one her mother wants to hold on to. When the mother agrees to sell, the daughter steps in and prevents the sale. Other than these, the book was too sad. The group does not recommend it.