Book Club Ideas
“Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” is a biographical narrative written by Laura Hillenbrand about the indomitable Louie Zamperini. The novel begins with Louie’s troubled youth, his discovery of distance running, and subsequent participation in Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics. There he roomed with Jesse Owens, shook Hitler’s hand, and stole a Nazi flag. Although Nineteen-year old Louie didn’t medal, he was the top American finisher and set his sites on the 1940 Tokyo Olympics. However, World War II would bring the cancellation of those games, and thrust young Louie into a harrowing and disturbing fight for “survival, resilience and redemption.”
The four Batiste siblings are living in a run down house on what remains of their grandparents once thriving farm. Their mother died in childbirth and their neglectful father is oftentimes too tired or too drunk to tend to the needs of the children.
This tale is narrated by the insightful 14-year-old Esh and unfolds over a twelve day period in August 2005, during which the deadly Hurricane Katrina makes landfall.
Little Bee comes from a village in Nigeria sheltered from the world’s advancements, but not sheltered from the world’s evils. Little Bee’s journey to freedom begins when she flees her village with her sister and friend. She touches the lives of Andrew (a writer), Sarah (editor of a fashion magazine), Charlie (a batman freak), and Lawrence (Sarah’s confidant). Little Bee touched my life as well. “Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means this story teller is alive” – Little Bee
East of Eden, John Steinbeck’s passionate and exhilarating epic, re-creates the seminal stories of Genesis through the intertwined lives of two American families … in the Salinas Valley of northern California.
In Depression-era Mississippi, Millie Reynolds longs to escape the madness that marks her world. With an abusive father and a “nothing mama,” she struggles to find a place where she really belongs.
How would it feel if the sun and the moon where the only things you could count on in your life?
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier is Ishmael Beah’s story of what it took to survive the civil war in Sierra Leone. Under unimaginable conditions he was without his family, traveling the land with a pack of boys. He was then captured by the government army, given drugs and turned into a soldier at the age of 13.
December 12, 1930
Trinity College, Oxford
My dear and unfortunate successor:
It is with regret that I imagine you, whoever you are, reading the account I must put down here. The regret is partly for myself — because I will surely be at least in trouble, maybe dead, or perhaps worse, if this is in your hands. But my regret is also for you, my yet-unknown friend, because only by someone who needs such vile information will this letter someday be read. If you are not my successor in some other sense, you will soon be my heir-and I feel sorrow at bequeathing to another human being my own, perhaps unbelievable, experience of evil. Why I myself inherited it I don’t know, but I hope to discover that fact, eventually-perhaps in the course of writing to you or perhaps in the course of further events.
Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease changes her life.
That Old Cape Magic is a story about a man’s journey to lay his father, and then his mother, to rest while reflecting on his upbringing. His fondest memories include that one month of happiness his family would have when they crossed the Sagamore Bridge into Cape Cod. To commemorate the event, they would sing That Old Black Magic, substituting Cape for Black.
Joy, Griffin’s separated wife, sums up the story well when she says “out of sight isn’t out of mind. You think you don’t let your mother into your life-into our lives-but you blame her when a bird craps on you.”
Cooking the Books