We meet on the first and third Thursday of the month in Parish Hall 1 at 9:00 AM (with exceptions for holidays and Holy Days)
Everyone is welcome to come to our meetings every time, or just when a book interests them. Sometimes we have a half dozen people, other times we may have twenty or more.
On the first Thursday of the month, we discuss a novel.
On the third Thursday, we meet and either read together from "Let Us Pray" by Pope Francis.
We are not a structured group. Sometimes readers may bring discussion questions or summaries.
BOOK CLUB SELECTIONS
by Cameron Wright
Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not really working. Just when things seem most bleak, Sang Ly learns a secret about the hated, ill-tempered woman, the "the rent collector"-she can read! Reluctantly she agrees to teach Sang Ly and does so with the same harshness she applied to her collection duties until they both learn how literacy has the power to instill hope and transcend circumstance.
Based on a true story, set in the abject poverty of Cambodia against the backdrop of political oppression and the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge.
The Midnight Library
by Matt Haig
The Midnight Library tells the story of Nora, a depressed woman in her 30s, who, on the day she decides to die, finds herself in a library full of lives she could have lived, where she discovers there's a lot more to life, even her current one, than she had ever imagined.
The Many Daughters of Afong Moy
by Jamie Ford
Dorothy Moy breaks her own heart for a living.
As Washington’s former poet laureate, that’s how she describes channeling her dissociative episodes and mental health struggles into her art. But when her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior and begins remembering things from the lives of their ancestors, Dorothy believes the past has truly come to haunt her. Fearing that her child is predestined to endure the same debilitating depression that has marked her own life, Dorothy seeks radical help.
Through an experimental treatment designed to mitigate inherited trauma, Dorothy intimately connects with past generations of women in her family: Faye Moy, a nurse in China serving with the Flying Tigers; Zoe Moy, a student in England at a famous school with no rules; Lai King Moy, a girl quarantined in San Francisco during a plague epidemic; Greta Moy, a tech executive with a unique dating app; and Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set foot in America.
As painful recollections affect her present life, Dorothy discovers that trauma isn’t the only thing she’s inherited. A stranger is searching for her in each time period. A stranger who’s loved her through all of her genetic memories. Dorothy endeavors to break the cycle of pain and abandonment, to finally find peace for her daughter, and gain the love that has long been waiting, knowing she may pay the ultimate price.
by Barbara Kingsolver
Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. Relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.
Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.
by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan
Olivia McAfee knows what it feels like to start over. Her picture-perfect life—living in Boston, married to a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon, raising their beautiful son, Asher—was upended when her husband revealed a darker side. She never imagined that she would end up back in her sleepy New Hampshire hometown, living in the house she grew up in and taking over her father’s beekeeping business.
Lily Campanello is familiar with do-overs, too. When she and her mom relocate to Adams, New Hampshire, for her final year of high school, they both hope it will be a fresh start.
And for just a short while, these new beginnings are exactly what Olivia and Lily need. Their paths cross when Asher falls for the new girl in school, and Lily can’t help but fall for him, too. With Ash, she feels happy for the first time. Yet she wonders if she can trust him completely. . . .
Then one day, Olivia receives a phone call: Lily is dead, and Asher is being questioned by the police. Olivia is adamant that her son is innocent. But she would be lying if she didn’t acknowledge the flashes of his father’s temper in Ash, and as the case against him unfolds, she realizes he’s hidden more than he’s shared with her.
Mad Honey is a riveting novel of suspense, an unforgettable love story, and a moving and powerful exploration of the secrets we keep and the risks we take in order to become ourselves.
My Heart Will Triumph
by Mirjana Soldo
Mirjana Soldo was only sixteen years old when she and five other children saw a mysterious woman on a hillside near the village of Medjugorje, ex-Yugoslavia.
The woman—who possessed an extraordinary beauty and grace—identified herself as the Virgin Mary. The events that began on that summer afternoon in 1981 dramatically changed Mirjana’s life and brought intense suffering at the hands of the communist authorities.
After more than 35 years of apparitions, people still flock to Medjugorje in search of answers to life’s big questions. Stories of miracles abound, and, according to Mirjana, more are yet to come—the Virgin entrusted her with ten prophetic secrets concerning the future of the world.
In her new auto-biography, My Heart Will Triumph, Mirjana tells the story of Medjugorje through her own eyes—the same eyes that reportedly gaze upon the most revered woman in history.
by Qian Julie Wang
The author, from China, tells of growing up in New York City with her parents. In Chinese, the word for America, Mei Guo, translates directly to “beautiful country”. Yet when seven-year-old Qian arrives in New York City in 1994 full of curiosity, she is overwhelmed by crushing fear and scarcity. In China, Qian’s parents were professors; in America, her family is “illegal”, and it will require all the determination and small joys they can muster to survive.
In Chinatown, Qian’s parents labor in sweatshops. Instead of laughing at her jokes, they fight constantly, taking out the stress of their new life on one another. Shunned by her classmates and teachers for her limited English, Qian takes refuge in the library and masters the language through books, coming to think of The Berenstain Bears as her first American friends. And where there is delight to be found, Qian relishes it: her first bite of gloriously greasy pizza, weekly “shopping days”, when Qian finds small treasures in the trash lining Brooklyn’s streets, and a magical Christmas visit to Rockefeller Center - confirmation that the New York City she saw in movies does exist after all.
But then Qian’s headstrong Ma Ma collapses, revealing an illness that she has kept secret for months for fear of the cost and scrutiny of a doctor’s visit. As Ba Ba retreats further inward, Qian has little to hold onto beyond his constant refrain: Whatever happens, say that you were born here, that you’ve always lived here.
Inhabiting her childhood perspective with exquisite lyric clarity and unforgettable charm and strength, Qian Julie Wang has penned an essential American story about a family fracturing under the weight of invisibility, and a girl coming of age in the shadows, who never stops seeking the light.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.
Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
The only way to survive is to open your heart.
The Quilter's Apprentice
by Jennifer Chiaverini
When Sarah McClure and her husband, Matt, move to Waterford, Pennsylvania, she hopes to make a fresh start in the small college town. Unable to find a job both practical and fulfilling, she takes a temporary position at Elm Creek Manor helping its reclusive owner Sylvia Compson prepare her family estate for sale and after the death of her estranged sister. Sylvia is also a master quilter and, as part of Sarah’s compensation, offers to share the secrets of her creative gifts with the younger woman.
During their lessons, the intricate, varied threads of Sylvia’s life begin to emerge. It is the story of a young wife living through the hardships and agonies of the World War II home front; of a family torn apart by jealousy and betrayal; of misunderstanding, loss, and a tragedy that can never be undone. As the bond between them deepens, Sarah resolves to help Sylvia free herself from remembered sorrows and restore her life—and her home—to its former glory. In the process, she confronts painful truths about her own family, even as she creates new dreams for the future.
Just as the darker sections of a quilt can enhance the brighter ones, the mistakes of the past can strengthen understanding and lead the way to new beginnings. A powerful debut by a gifted storyteller, The Quilter’s Apprentice tells a timeless tale of family, friendship, and forgiveness as two women weave the disparate pieces of their lives into a bountiful and harmonious whole.