The most-talked about book of 2015 will be the focus of our group’s discussion this October. Our state’s literary queen and my hometown’s most celebrated dweller will certainly be interesting fodder for our monthly feast. So put aside what you have head and read and let’s pick up with Scout, er Jean Lousie in her later years.
I kind of fee a synopsis of the book here is unnecessary, but since Katherine sent one I will include it as well as her other suggestions below:
Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee. From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—”Scout”—returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can only be guided by one’s own conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic.
The Truth According to Us, Annie Barrows. -delightfully eccentric as Guernsey yet refreshingly different. . . . It’s an epic but intimate family novel with richly imagined characters, an intriguing plot and the social sensibilities you would expect of a story set in the South. . . . The traumatized girls, Willa and Bird, are exquisitely portrayed and the lasting damage caused by the abandonment is sensitively rendered. Willa’s indomitable spirit, keen sense of adventure and innate intelligence reminded me of two other motherless girls in literature: Scout Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Flavia de Luce in Alan Bradley’s big-hearted British mystery series. If Guernsey is a tribute to the power of books, The Truth According to Us is a testament to the toxicity of secrets. . . . Just as we did in Guernsey, we empathize with the characters as if they’re our neighbors. . . . Macedonia is a great place to spend some time this summer. The temperatures are soaring, but it’s nothing compared to the heat generated by this sizzling story.”—The Washington Post
The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown. The kind of nonfiction book that reads like a novel. Centered around the life of Joe Rantz—a farmboy from the Pacific Northwest who was literally abandoned as a child—and set during the Great Depression, The Boys in the Boat is a character-driven story with a natural crescendo that will have you racing to the finish. In 1936, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team raced its way to the Berlin Olympics for an opportunity to challenge the greatest in the world. How this team, largely composed of rowers from “foggy coastal villages, damp dairy farms, and smoky lumber towns all over the state,” managed to work together and sacrifice toward their goal of defeating Hitler’s feared racers is half the story. The other half is equally fascinating, as Brown seamlessly weaves in the story of crew itself. This is fast-paced and emotional nonfiction about determination, bonds built by teamwork, and what it takes to achieve glory. —Chris Schluep