in-person book discussions ARE HELD ON THE LAST Thursday OF THE MONTH AT 1:00 PM.

We will meet in the Library’s Program Room to discuss our ideas, interpretations, and opinions of the selected book.  Register at the circulation desk, by phone, or email one month prior to the discussion to allow time for checking out and reading the book.  Everyone is welcome.

Book titles and dates are subject to change.

April 28—The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Nora Seed believes her life is made up of wrong choices. She didn’t become an Olympic swimmer; she quit her brother’s band; she left her fiancé two days before the wedding. Living with crippling disappointment and situational depression, Nora decides that the only right choice for her is to end her existence. But “between life and death there is a midnight library,” a library that contains multiple volumes of the lives she could have had if she had made different choices. With the help of the friendly librarian Mrs. Elm, Nora tries on these lives in hopes of finding one where she will truly be happy. In the process, Nora finds that life is made of choices of both little and big consequence, and sometimes the choice to believe in oneself is both the biggest and smallest decision a person can make. Haig’s latest (after the  nonfiction collection Notes on a Nervous Planet, 2019) is a stunning contemporary story that explores the  choices that make up a life, and the regrets that can stifle it. A compelling novel that will resonate with readers. — LynnDee Wathen (Reviewed 8/1/2020) (Booklist, vol 116, number 22, p22

May 26– Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

Garcia’s debut novel tells two parallel stories of Latinx immigrant families. While the stories intersect near the beginning and end of the book, the women’s experiences are as distinct as the cultures from which they come. At the story’s center is Jeanette, whose mother, Carmen, emigrated from Cuba, cutting off all ties with her family. The family is impacted by multigenerational trauma caused by war, revolution, and abuse, and Jeanette struggles with drug addiction. When her neighbor, Gloria, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, is detained by ICE, Jeanette briefly takes in her daughter, Ana, who is inadvertently left behind. In nonsequential chapters, we follow the struggles of Jeanette and her family, as well as Gloria and Ana’s harrowing experiences with the current U.S. immigration policies.  A relevant and  timely work delivered with empathy. –Christine DeZelar-Tiedman (Reviewed 02/01/2021) (Library Journal, vol 146, issue 2, p79)

June 30– Lightning Strike by Kent Krueger

This prequel to Krueger’s “Cork O’Connor” series begins in January 1989. Cork, the newly elected sheriff of Tamarack County, MN, reflects on the case that changed his relationship with his father in the summer of 1963, when Cork was 12. In ’63, his father Liam is the sheriff; when Cork finds the hanging body of Big John Manydeeds, Liam investigates. Liam is pulled between Tamarack County’s white residents, who think Manydeeds was drunk and killed himself, and the county’s Ojibwe residents, who don’t believe that Manydeeds, who was Ojibwe, died by suicide. Liam searches for logical answers, while Cork grapples with questions about death and witnesses a shadow that haunts the Lightning Strike site where Manydeeds was found. Cork, who is one-quarter Ojibwe, finds spiritual answers and provides clues to his white father, who will always be an outsider in the county. Anger is the only response for a 12-year-old when his father’s decisions seem to put community before family. VERDICT This sensitive, moving prequel introduces and draws readers into the series. Krueger (Ordinary Grace; This Tender Land) has written another perceptive coming-of-age novel, the poignant story of a father and son trying to understand each other. It provides Cork O’Connor’s backstory for those who haven’t read the series. –Lesa Holstine (Reviewed 07/01/2021) (Library Journal, vol 146, issue 7, p59)

July 28– The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

Daré’s captivating first novel opens with  14-year-old Adunni hearing the  devastating news from her father that, instead of returning to school as she has longed to for three years, she has been sold in marriage to a much-older neighbor in their Nigerian village. Adunni is distraught, as life with a husband, his two other wives, and his unrestrained young children is exactly the fate from which, according to her deceased mother, having an education would spare her. Desperate to improve her life, she flees to the city, where to support herself she accepts employment as a rich family’s servant. But why was the position vacant? The reasoning behind her predecessor’s departure is just one of the things Adunni seeks to learn while in Lagos. Daré’s arresting prose provides a window into the  lives of Nigerians of all socioeconomic levels and shows readers the  beauty and humor that may be found even in the  midst of harrowing experiences. Although the  problems and antagonists Adunni faces would challenge even capable adults, she defies almost everyone’s expectations and not only survives but thrives. — Nicole Williams (Reviewed 1/1/2020) (Booklist, vol 116, number 9, p35)

No Book Discussion in August

We’ll be taking August off. But please consider shopping our Big Annual Book Sale August 22-27. You never know what treasures you will find!

September 29–The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray

Benedict (The Mystery of Mrs. Christie) and Murray (Wrath) deliver a powerful take on the  accomplishments of J.P. Morgan’s librarian . In 1906, Belle da Costa Greene is hired away from Princeton University to run the Pierpont Morgan Library. There, Belle adds notable works to the  library’s collection and successfully navigates a high-stakes auction. As Belle’s position requires her to attend social events with New York’s elite, she is ever cognizant of maintaining the secrecy of her Black heritage, asserting that her grandmother is Portuguese. Belle’s father, Richard Greener, an equal rights advocate, was the first Black man to graduate from Harvard University, and left the family after Belle’s mother insisted on raising her as white. Though Belle enjoys her personal success as J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian, which brings her significant influence in the city’s art world and rare books market, her public role increases her risk of exposure for passing as white, which she fears would cost her the job and bring an end to her family’s financial support. Benedict and Murray do a great job capturing Belle’s passion and tenacity as she carves a place for herself in a racist male-dominated society. This does fine justice to a remarkable historical figure. (June) –Staff (Reviewed 04/19/2021) (Publishers Weekly, vol 268, issue 16, p)

October 27–The Lives of Edie Pritchard by Larry Watson

Set mostly in eastern Montana, Watson’s vibrant character study (after As Good as Gone) reads like a trio of scintillating novellas, each set 20 years apart. In the late 1960s, young bank teller Edie Linderman is married to Dean, a domineering sporting goods clerk. Their wobbly marriage is beset with maybes and ifs. Maybe she should have married Dean’s more ambitious twin brother, Roy, a flirtatious furniture salesman. If she hadn’t gone with Roy to buy a pick-up, maybe he wouldn’t have had the crippling accident, the  murky circumstances of which ignited Dean’s jealousy, and maybe she wouldn’t have left town with a one-way bus ticket west and married smarmy insurance agent Gary Dunn, as she does in the second part of the novel, set in 1987. Edie  and Dean have a daughter who, by 18, wearies of  her dull life. Edie leaves Gary, hoping to develop a better relationship with her rebellious teenager. In 2007, now 64, Edie  relies on her life  experiences to rescue her self-absorbed adolescent granddaughter who becomes embroiled with yet another set of  battling brothers. Like in the best works of Richard Ford and Elizabeth Strout, Watson shows off a keen eye for regional details, a pitch-perfect ear for dialogue, and an affinity for sharp characterization. This triptych is richly rewarding. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit. (July) –Staff (Reviewed 05/04/2020) (Publishers Weekly, vol 267, issue 18, p)

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