Welcome to the KPL Book Club Blogspot

Welcome to the internet home of the Kilbourn Public Library (KPL) Book Club. The KPL Book Club meets at the library once a month. A book is chosen for each month and then members of the book club meet the last Monday and Wednesday of every month for lively discussion and treats. While we can’t offer you treats via the internet, this KPL Reads blog was designed for those of you who would like to participate in the book club but don’t have time to join us at meetings. Each month KPL staff will post discussion topics and questions to get you “talking”. Join in the discussion by adding a post to the blog. Click on the word comments below the post you want to "talk" about and write your comment. Be sure to check back often to see feedback and comments.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Club is reading The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom for the September book selection. 

Orphaned while onboard a ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house.  Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.

Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction.  Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds.  When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.

The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.

Why do you think the author chose to tell the story through two narrators?  How are Lavinia's observations and judgments different from Belle's?  Does this story belong to one more than the other?  If you could choose another character to narrate the novel, who would it be?

Why does the captain keep Belle's true identity a secret from his wife and children?  Do you think the truth would have been a relief to his family or torn them further apart?  At what  point does keeping this secret turn tragic?

Marshall is a complicated character.  At times, he is kind and protective;  other times, he is a violent monster.  What is the secret that Marshall is forced to keep?  Is he to blame for what happened to Sally?  Why do you think Marshall was loyal to Rankin, who was a conspirator with Mr. Waters?

" I was enslaved as all the others" (page 300).  Do you think this statement by Lavinia is fair?  Is her position equivalent to those of the slaves?  What freedom does she have that the slaves do not?  What burdens does her race put upon her?

Let us know what you think of The Kitchen House.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Club is reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes for the August book selection.  A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn't have less in common--a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart? 

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life--steady boyfriend, close family--who has never been farther afield than their tiny village.  She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident.  Will has always lived a huge life--big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel--and now he's pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

If you were Louisa, would you have quit working for the Traynors?  If yes, at what point?

Were you able to relate to the way Will felt after his accident?  What about his outlook on life did you find most difficult to understand or accept?

Why is Louisa able to reach Will when so many others could not?

Were you as surprised as Lou to learn of Will's plans?

Before his accident, Will was a philanderer and a corporate raider who would probably never have given Louisa a second look.  Why is it that people are so often unable to see what's truly important until they've experienced loss?

Let us know what you think of Me Before You!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Club is reading Taken For Granted by Leslyn Amthor Spinelli for the July book selection. 

When former prosecutor Caroline Spencer answers a middle-of-the-night call for help from her friend Kate Daniels--a prominent medical researcher--she has no idea the toll it will take.  Her seven-year-old daughter, her marriage, her professional relationships, and her sometimes precarious emotional health are all jeopardized.

How is Kate able to explain her presence at the apartment of a dead graduate student?  What connects this career-driven woman to a ruthless drug dealer?  Why does Caroline have trouble recognizing the friend she's known for half her life?  As she struggles to answer these questions and discovers the person Kate has become,  Caroline is forced to examine her own life and make some painful choices.  Set in Madison, Wisconsin, amid the backdrop of the federal criminal justice system, Taken For Granted is page-turning psychological fiction.

How did you experience this book?  Were you engaged immediately, or did it take you a while to "get into it"? 

Is the plot of this book engaging?  Were you surprised by the plots complications?  Or did you find it predictable?

What main ideas--themes--does the author explore?

Is the ending satisfying?  If so, why?  If not, why not...and how would you change it?

If you could ask the author a question, what would you ask?

Let us know what you think of Taken For Granted.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Club is reading Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple for the June book selection.

 Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is told from the point of view of a daughter trying to find her missing mother. Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from Bee’s perspective? What light does it shed on the bond between Bernadette and Bee?

What are your thoughts on Bernadette’s character? Has she become unhinged or has she always been a little crazy? What, if anything, do you think sent her over the edge? Have you ever had a moment in your own life that utterly changed you, or made you call into question your own sanity?

Bernadette often behaves as if she is an outsider. Do you think she is? If so, do you think her feelings of being an outsider are self-imposed, or is she truly different from the other members of her community? Do you ever feel like an outsider?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is, at its core, a story about a woman who disappears, both literally and figuratively. Were you able to relate to the book? How and why? Do you feel Bernadette’s disappearance was unique, or do all women, in a sense, disappear into motherhood and marriage?

Let us know what you think of Where'd You Go, Bernadette!

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Club is reading The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer for the May book selection.  This dazzling, panoramic novel is about what becomes of early talent, and the roles that art, money, and even envy can play in close friendships. 

The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable.  Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed.  In The Interestings,  Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge. 

Think about how talent is presented in the book.  In your opinion, is it something you are born with or something you work hard to achieve? 

Jealousy is referred to in the book as being "I want what you have," whereas envy is "I want what you have, but I also want to take it away so you can't have it."  Who is jealous in this book?  Who is envious?  Can jealousy become envy?  How is envy tied up in issues like talent and money?

Single parents, lost parents, and absent parents play a role in this novel.  In what ways do the families the characters were born into shape their futures?  Ash and Goodman are the only characters to come from an intact nuclear family that is able to provide for all their needs.  Do you think this is necessarily a good thing for Goodman?  What about Ash?

The shift from the seventies to the eighties to the current moment is an important one depicted in the book.  What do you think Meg Wolitzer is trying to say about art and how art is sold?  Was the art of the seventies as pure as it seemed to the creators?  The Wunderlichs remain true to an even earlier version of what art should be.  What are the positives of that vision?   What are its limits?

Let us know what you think of The Interestings.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Club is reading Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger for April.

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961.  The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson's Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack.  It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president.  But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms.  Accident. Nature.  Suicide.  Murder.

Told from Frank's perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him.  It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

Think about the characters of Ruth and Nathan Drum, the narrator's mother and father.  How would you describe them and, especially, their marriage?

What do you think of Emil Brandt and his sister?

How would you describe Gus?  What is the bond between Gus and Nathan based on?  What do you think was the event during the war that the two refer to obliquely as they sit together in the darkened church?

Why is Ruth so angry with Nathan after Ariel disappears?  How would you respond to such a horrific loss:  would you respond as Ruth does, in anger?  Or would you be more like Nathan?

How would you define grace?  What, specifically, does "ordinary grace" refer to in the story, and what is the larger religious significance of the term "ordinary grace"?

Why is the grace spoken by Jake so extraordinary...and how does it affect members of his family?

What do you think happened to Bobby Cole?  Why might the author have left that mystery unresolved?

Let us know what you think of Ordinary Grace.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Kilbourn Public Library Book Discussion Group will be reading The Worst Thing I've Done by Ursula Hegi for the March selection.  In this novel set on the East End of Long Island, a woman embarks on a poignant voyage of self-discovery and comes to terms with the aftermath of one horrible choice that changes everything. 

Friends since childhood, Annie, Jake, and Mason had a special bond that transcended all other relationships.  When Annie's parents die in a car accident on her and Mason's wedding night, the three friends decide to raise Annie's infant sister, Opal, together.  Jealousy and possessiveness entwine with love and friendship, and Annie struggles to be both a sister and a mother to Opal.  And then, on one fateful night, the friends step over a line that has shocking consequences.

Beautifully written and brilliantly vivid, this truthful and engaging novel of friendship and premature death, love and suicide, and, ultimately, resilience and understanding will resonate long after each character tells his or her story.  

Discuss the title of the novel.  Who do you think is the "I" in The Worst Thing I've Done?  What is the worst thing that Annie has done in the novel?  Mason?  Jake?

Annie considers the lifelong dynamic of her friendship with Mason and Jake:  "one of us always looking on".  Do you think it's inevitable that one person will feel excluded in a triangle friendship?  Do you think Mason, Annie, and Jake could have prevented the tragic implosion of their friendship?  If so, how?

Annie plays a dual role in Opal's life, as both her sister and her mother.  When do Annie and Opal seem most like sisters?  When is Annie able to assume authority as Opal's mother?

The ups and downs of friendship, such as Lotte and Aunt Stormy's "sisters-by-choice", or the tension between Mason and Jake, is featured prominently throughout the novel.  Which bond is stronger in the novel: friendship or family?  Or are they strong and tenuous in different ways?

At the end of the novel, Jake tells Annie about the day he and Mason fought on the raft at summer camp, but does not reveal what he saw of Mason's suicide.  Do you think Jake will ever tell Annie the deeper secret, or will he always keep it to himself?  How will his decision affect their relationship in the future?

Let us know what you think about The Worst Thing I've Done.