Book Discussion Group Title List 2010

January 2010

By Susan Wingate

Running a diner isn't always a piece of cake. When Bobby's widow and his ex both inherit Bobby's Diner the trouble begins. They will either have to run it together or sell but not before greedy contractors and a dirty politician try to steal the land out from under them. Will they fight together or will they buckle under the pressure? As the new co-owners of Bobby's Diner, these women must learn to work together or give up--and both are too stubborn to give up. Set in the fictional small town of Sunnydale, Arizona the book follows Georgette Carlisle as she goes on a journey of life, love, death and sadness at Bobby's Diner. Moments of humor mix with deep emotions in this heart-warming and realistically funny story.

February 2010

By Tatiana De Rosnay

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel' d'Hiv' roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours. Paris, May 2002: On Vel'd'Hiv's 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her toSarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins toquestion her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.

March 2010

By J. D. Salinger

The highly successful Catcher is J. D. Salinger's only published novel. It is narrated by seventeen-year-old Holden Caulfield, a schoolboy in rebellion against the dubious values of the adult world. In 1949, while "recovering" in a California sanitorium, 17-year-old Holden relates events that occurred during three December days in 1948 when he was sixteen. Within this part of the story, Holden frequently flashes back to experiences and people from earlier in his life.

The novel came out in 1951, a time of anxious Cold War conformity and the dawn of modern adolescence. The popularity of the novel and debate over its redeeming social value have never faltered since its initial publication, due in no small part to the fact that J.D. Salinger was a recluse.

April 2010

By Masha Hamilton

Languishing in a dead-end job in a Brooklyn library, Fiona Sweeney, 36, feels time is passing her by. So when the opportunity arises to travel to Africa to manage an unorthodox mobile library, Fi jumps at the chance to influence a culture of nomadic people whose existence is dependent upon more basic human requirements, such as water, food, and shelter. With everything from Seuss to Shakespeare, Fi's regular deliveries of books elate the village women and children but intimidate tribal elders, who fear change and anticipate the loss of their ancient ways. When the bookmobile's one intractable rule is broken, the village turns on the emotionally and physically scarred teenager whose act of rebellion jeopardizes everything Fi has worked for. With a heartfelt appreciation for the potential of literature to transcend cultural divides, Hamilton has created a poignant, ennobling, and buoyant tale of risks and rewards, surrender and sacrifice.

May 2010

By Laurie R. King

Picture Sherlock Holmes, walking on the Sussex Downs, literally stumbling across a 15-year-old girl whose brilliant intellect, caustic wit, egotistical personality, and gift for detail rival Holmes' own. Meeting the great man at the awkward age of 15, Russell (as he calls her) proves herself his intellectual equal even before their first case- -mysterious bouts of illness that befall their victims only in clear weather. The sleuthing duo then find signs of the hand of a master criminal and attempts are made on their lives (and on Watson's), with evidence piling up that the master criminal is out to get Holmes and all he holds dear.

Holmes fans, history buffs, lovers of humor and adventure, and mystery devotees will all find King's book absorbing from beginning to end.

June 2010

By Christina Sunley

Freya travels to Canada during her summer vacations and learns about her Icelandic heritage from Birdie, a beloved aunt. When Birdie is committed to an insane asylum and dies shortly after, Freya rejects her heritage and stays away for more than a decade. When she returns, she learns that Birdie may have given up a child for adoption three years before Freya was born. The search for this long-lost cousin begins&

The author weaves real Icelandic history, literature, myth and culture into her compelling story. This accomplished debut novel is a bewitching tale of volcanic emotions, cultural inheritance, family sorrows, mental illness, and life-altering discoveries.

July 2010

By Jeannette Walls

When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family. The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Shocking, sad, and occasionally bitter, this gracefully written account speaks candidly about parents and about the strength of family ties--for both good and ill.

August 2010

By Elizabeth Buchan

Londoner Rose Lloyd is left with an empty house and a broken heart when her husband of 25 years leaves her for her young assistant, who helps herself to Rose's job as well. Sidestepping the conventional wife-gets-even plot, Buchan opts for a more believable examination of one intelligent woman's midlife coming-of-age. The devastated Rose manages to be an insightful, funny narrator, and her process of picking up the pieces and reexamining her past decisions and relationships, all the while tending to her almost-grown children and aging mother, is believable and inspiring. With wry insight, Rose reflects on her affair with former lover Hal, a roving travel author, and her later happy life with Nathan and their children, Poppy and Sam, who are now embarking on their own marital journeys.

Witty, insightful, and emotionally resonant, this is a genuine story of rebirth at middle age.

September 2010

By Deborah Rodriguez

Soon after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid. She soon found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once it became known that she was a hairdresser she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus an idea was born.

Within the small haven of the newly created beauty school, the line between teacher and student quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez their stories and their hearts: the newlywed who faked her virginity on her wedding night, the twelve-year-old bride sold into marriage to pay her family's debts, the Taliban member's wife who pursued her training despite her husband's constant beatings.

Rodriguez's are Western eyes, and it is easy to imagine an Afghan woman being offended by some details she divulges, but underneath the culture clash is genuine care, respect, and juicy storytelling.

October 2010

By Tana French

The body of a young woman is found in the ruins of an old stone cottage in a dying village outside of Dublin. Eerily, the dead woman and murder squad detective Cassie Maddox are virtual twins. Lacking suspects or leads, the victim is reported by the police to be injured but alive, leaving Cassie to step into the dead woman's life as a Trinity College graduate student and the housemate of four other students. Despite the tensions of being undercover, Cassie quickly learns to love her quirky housemates and her new life in a once-grand house. But someone stabbed her doppelganger to death, and Cassie must find the killer. The Likeness has everything: memorable characters, crisp dialogue, shrewd psychological insight, mounting tension, a palpable sense of place, and wonderfully evocative, painterly prose.

November 2010

By Kate Morton

This debut page-turner from Australian Morton recounts the crumbling of a prominent British family as seen through the eyes of one of its servants. At 14, Grace Reeves leaves home to work at Riverton House. Grace observes the comings and goings of the family and, as an invisible maid, is privy to secrets she will spend a lifetime pretending to forget. In the summer of 1924, at a glittering society party held at the house, a young poet shot himself. The only witnesses were daughters Hannah and Emmeline and only they -- and Grace -- know the truth. When a filmmaker working on a movie about the family contacts a 98-year-old Grace to fact-check particulars, the memories come swirling back.

The House at Riverton is a vivid, page-turning novel of suspense and passion, with characters -- and an ending -- the reader won't soon forget.

December 2010

(Documentary Film)

An arresting and optimistic portrait of post-Taliban Afghanistan, the theatrical hit THE BEAUTY ACADEMY OF KABUL captures the wonderfully odd circumstances that bring Afghan and American women together in pursuit of physical beauty and much more. In this utterly unique film, a quirky gaggle of Western hairstylists, including Afghan-American women, armed with blow driers and designer scissors, improbably opens a school to teach eager Afghan women the high art of fixing hair. Torn by decades of war and oppression, the women of Kabul embrace perm rods and mascara with unbridled hope even as they candidly recall the horrors of burkas and bombs. Both humorous and slyly subversive, the film offers poignant moments of culture clash between the Americans and Afghans and touching moments of feminine solidarity.