Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

We loved this book!  I don't think it was the first time for any of us yet we were still enthusiastic readers.  Diana thought it was sad that it had taken her so many years to write this because surely she would have written others.  Frankly, we all longed for a sequel.  Oh my, how modern media has changed the way we think of a stand-alone book.

With so many delightful characters, it was hard to single out a favorite.  We especially liked Isola Pribbey's observation, "reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad one."  Apparently she was not too delicate as Juliet noted she "doesn't approve of small talk and believes in breaking the ice by stomping on it."  Juliet's humor was always a relief.  It's through her encouragement that Isola decided to become the new Miss Marple.

You would think it awkward to read a story told through letters but the author did it flawlessly.  We did like seeing how the writers and readers related to one another - tender bits were revealed, having been told in the confidence.  Kathy liked it that Elizabeth had pinned Eli with her father's wings for bravery during his relocation and then later those wings showed up in Kit's box of special memories - somehow revealed through various letters.

I thought it was nice that the author was able to keep the book light while revealing some of the horrors of the occupation.  Mary agreed, noting the letter Juliet received from someone protesting the cruel treatment of the pets left behind.  We laughed at the sanctimonious Adelaide Addison, but really didn't give the book the time and discussion it deserved.  Still, it was a delightful December book selection.

Maureen said that she has friends who never read fiction, thinking that fiction is less than nonfiction.  She asked if we had friends like that, and several of us responded yes.  I asked how many of us would have known about the German occupation of the Channel Islands, were it not for reading this book.  Only Jenny raised her hand.  We laughed.  I remembered that in a Political Geography college class, our professor had defined a people as sharing a common language, religion and literature, and that literature was subject to confiscation as a method of control.  We disagreed that you don't learn through reading fiction as we all felt we learned a lot through this book and we will remember it.

The Christmas potluck was fabulous, possibly the best and most copious ever.  Following desert we played the pirate exchange game with books.  I think it's also called the white elephant game.  It's certainly the longest meeting in our history, though you wouldn't know it from the short blog post.

Here we are, the Tuesday Book Club celebrating Christmas 2013:  Mary, Claudia, Sharon, Jennifer, Darlene, Kathy, Diana, Kareen (behind), Barbara, Jenny, Connie, Carolyn and Maureen.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Bells

In spite of receiving several emails from members who were unable to attend yesterday, we still had a nice representation for a rousing discussion.  We were pretty much in agreement that while it wasn't exactly our favorite read, it's a book that we'll never forget.

Joann was frustrated because she found a couple of plausibility issues she couldn't get past, namely that the baby was an heir and given the fame that Moses achieved, there is no way that he would have been able to keep the boy hidden and anonymous.  She felt that the grandmother would have moved heaven and earth to get him back.  Kareen reminded us that Moses had locked her in a trunk and thrown away the key.  We don't know her outcome, but we do know her son was weak, without self motivation or any affection for the baby.

I struggled with some of the coincidences that were necessary to propel the story forward, like Moses finding Nicolai and Rumus after they left the monastery and Kathy tossed in, the finding of the wet nurse who turned out to create a home for them. And here is where we also agreed that after all the details up to this point, the end seemed hastily contrived. We also felt the first half of the book was much different than the second half.

The history of castratos was new to all of us, and the practice was driven by Italy and Italian opera.  They sang the role of female voices until women were finally allowed to sing them for themselves.   Harvell's description of the physiology of a eunuch was certainly an eye opener.  Denise reminded us that even their fingers were elongated.  The argument was that a live castrato was better off than a dead street urchin.  At least that's what Ulrich told himself and wanted to believe.

We talked at length about how Harvell crafted this tale to provide a retelling of the Myth of Orpheus.  I had read a lot of reviews online and found that the raves came from fans of opera, and there were many readers who found the book absolutely compelling - one said she gobbled up the first 100 pages.  In Harvell's retelling of Orpheus, he embroidered where necessary and often had us on the cusp of believable and unbelievable, some parts were almost to the point of fairy tale.

We all thought Harvell's beautifully descriptive language was what made the book readable, but the cruelty of the characters, particularly the doctor and music master, made for difficult reading at the same time.  The doctor was the most loathed character and Nicholai was our favorite.  Darlene reminded us that this was a hard time in history.  Indeed!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Reading List 2014

The twelve books for next year were selected on Tuesday.  I do want to write them down here for safekeeping since I've already lost the email with the titles twice.   We'll assigned the months at our November meeting and can look forward to another great year of reading!

1.   Americanah by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
2.   And the Mountains Echoed Khaled Hosseini
3.   Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
4.   Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
5.   How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
6.   Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
7.   Silver Star by Jeannette Walls
8.   The Burgess Boys Elizabeth Stout
9.   The Sister by Rosamund Lupton
10.  True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
11.  Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
12.  Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Telegraph Avenue

I was concerned for today's meeting since several people said last month that they were struggling with this book.  I told Ian that I might be home early because as far as I knew, only Carolyn and I had read it.  I was delighted when nine people showed up, and while only four of us had finished the book, others were in various stages of reading.  I have to hand it to Claudia who had been reading away while visiting her daughter in Pennsylvania and came to today after just returning from that trip - today!

It was a difficult book at the first because Chabon introduced so many characters right up front.  I had to write out a map of who they were and what their relationships were, but once I had that, I found myself captivated.  Peggy assured Barbara that if she wanted to keep reading, the second half was much easier than the first.  Carolyn lived in that area and said that Chabon, who lives in Berkeley,  was true to fact, unlike the last book we read.  Alas, I think that's was also my suggestion.

We were astonished at how Chabon kept all those details, plots and subplots going throughout the book, and if you can keep reading, it's worth it.  Mary gave up on the historic music references and skimmed though them - the only names she recognized were treated as bit players, like Jim Nabors who was one of the few names we recognized.  I was reading on Kindle so didn't realize it weighed in at a whopping 500 pages.  Ouch, and since I recommended it, I apologize right not.

The midwives, Gwen and Julie, were a very strong sub-story to the story so we were surprised to realize that fully five of our group today were nurses.  We ended up talking for quite a while about midwives and how they were once the only option, but not something we understand when contemporary medicine has made labor and delivery so safe.  We talked about the BBC series when midwives were an imperative but as Peggy noted, childhood mortality was pretty high in those days.   Mary said that she had looked forward to obstetrics when she was interning until she saw how fast a delivery could go south.

We talked about sympathetic characters.  Good grief, there were so many characters to think about.  Peggy found Gwen hard to like and we talked about her coming from a completely different economic background.  I think we all found Archy to be that guy, in spite of his foibles and there were many.  This is a relatively recent book and Carolyn said that she suspects Chabon is going to snag some awards this year.  She found study guides online for purchase which suggests this will become college curricula.  It's an ambitious book, but the reward is there for the tenacious reader.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Roots of the Olive Tree

This was one of the shorter book discussions we have had.  As the conversation progressed, it became apparent that we all had problems with the story.  For one thing, there really wasn't a likeable character in the cast.  Joanne took exception to the fact that Deb, who served 20 years for premeditated murder and then skipped parole, just dropped out of the story.  She felt that entirely unlikely.  It was established that she had a history of violent temper and then she ends up at an amusement park in Florida?

Carolyn and Connie said they knew the area of Corning, upon which the town of Kidron was based.  They felt she hadn't done her homework very well as the geography had huge implausibilities. 

We questioned the parentage of Bets' sons.  Given the time period, we acknowledged they would protect Frank's secret, and there was nothing to indicate that he had lovers.  Carolyn and Connie couldn't believe that Bets could come up with acceptable "sperm donors" in that vicinity at that time.  We didn't buy the Frank and Bets story and we especially didn't believe that a rest home would have allowed her to take two such seriously compromised patients as Frank and Guy on an outing when she herself was a nonagenarian. We also didn't buy the romance between Amrit and Callie. 

Jenny said - will someone please tell me the significance of the tortoise?!  Carolyn thought it was supposed to be Anna's natural mother and that's the best we could come up with.  The book seemed to drag on and repeat itself a lot but the ending is what we especially struggled with.  We didn't buy the convenient sale of Callie's store along that broken-down stretch of freeway and to an evangelizing truck driver who collaborated with a porn shop.  We didn't buy Callie's continued income from an online shop, selling olives from Pennsylvania. We had no idea who Erin married.  Was it Keller's father?  What happened to the trip to Australia??

We did think that Santo writes well but when Carolyn said that she has a second book coming out, based on cousins of these characters, there wasn't much interest.  This book did get good reviews and showed up on reading lists everywhere.  I bought my copy at Costco so they thought it was a good bet.  Flawed books can lend themselves to interesting discussions.  This was an interesting discussion. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fahrenheit 451

Today was the one time a year where we read a book and watch the movie.  It's a challenge to find that combination but so far since we've decided to do this we've been successful.  We didn't like the movie as much as the book but felt still that it was a decent movie.  It just didn't have the same impact as Bradbury's writing.  We thought the absence of the mechanical hound was a gaping hole in the movie, we missed Faber and I can tell you that I certainly didn't expect the movie to be a love story - with Clarissa!

The discussion was peculiar in that we didn't discuss the book itself as much as how we felt it applied to today and how prescient the writing was.  It was written in 1951 as science fiction so the "little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight" that we know today as "ear buds" were fabrications. "Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows" - sound bites we call them now.  Montag visited the bank "which was open all night every night with robot tellers" - we call them ATMs. It was the beginning of the Korean Conflict, yet he wrote of "quick wars" which we've seen ever since Yugoslavia.

The SciFi part is rather Francis Bacon'ish you have to admit.  But it was the social part that dominated our conversation - those that decide and those that abide.  He nailed so many social ills - the preoccupation with entertainment and the entertainment centers - "The televisor is real. It is immediate it has dimension.  it tells you what to think." And "That's all we live for, isn't it?  For pleasure, for titillation?"

We talked about the simplification of education - "School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually neglected...Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work."  Montag realized through Clarissa that "People don't talk about anything." When he finally escapes to the river, Granger tells him "But you can't make people listen.  They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up under them."  And of course, the big theme was eliminating conflict so that everyone is "happy" - the idea that book burners are custodians of peace of mind.

We talked about how current and relevant to today this book is and how we see an incurable widening gap between the haves and the have-nots - them that gots, get.  We also talked about how education is not a level playing field.  Joanne expressed frustration at the school her grandchildren are in where grades are given when not earned.

Bradbury was passionate about books and libraries.  He wrote this in nine days, on library typewriters for 10 cents a half hour.  It's the smallest book we've ever read in terms of pages but possibly the most powerful. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Foreign Affairs

I was greatly relieved to hear that everyone like the book since I'm the one who recommended it.  I read it about 20 years ago and absolutely loved it.  It was a much different story than I had remembered, but it was even better this time. 

Joanne asked what we thought about the proclamation on the cover - A splendid comedy.  She said she found it anything but funny.  We experienced an interesting dichotomy.  It turns out that Joanne and Mary didn't think it was funny, but Carolyn and I thought it was hilarious.  In fact, one page I'd marked with a sticky note that said funny.  "On the walls are Victorian paintings in thickly flounced gold frames: two portraits of Posy's distinguished military ancestors and one of a mournful prize sheep who strongly resembles George Eliot."  Mary said that it seemed every page had a nugget, the writing was so keen, and she felt it was the best written book we've read this year.  Kareen was just glad that it wasn't another WWII story.

Diana was disappointed with the ending and would have liked Chuck and Vinnie to have had more time together.  Kareen would have liked a sequel, as would I.  Maureen thought that at least they Lurie could have let them have more time so that frugal Vinnie could have enjoyed the benefit of his money. 

The two parallel stories of affairs and all the accompanying ironies were fun to "contrast and compare."  But the two surprises that Lurie delivered were delicious.  We had begun to suspect that Mrs Harris and Rosemary were one and the same, but only Connie picked up Roo's surname early in the book so wasn't surprised that the critic, L.D. Zimern, was her dad. 

Given that we couldn't change the ending, I think we were content with the changes in Vinnie's life as result of the affair, as she began to see herself as Chuck had.  "Something has changed, she thinks.  She isn't the same person she was:  she has loved and been loved." 

The author was asked in an interview why she had cut the affair so short and she said that if Chuck had lived, he probably would have felt duty-bound to go home to Tulsa.  She also really didn't think that Chuck and Vinnie would have been able to successfully live together.  Vinnie would go home to her academic community and if Chuck had returned with her, he would have a hard time fitting in with his Oklahoma costume.  I liked the ending better after I read that.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Madonnas of Leningrad

We amazed ourselves today by the size of our group and spent a  while trying to sort out the best arrangement for the tables.  By logic that large of a group should have been out of control, but once again, I love how everyone listens to each other and demonstrates genuine interest. Carolyn's college roommate Carol was in the area.  I say that loosely since Carolyn drove to Truckee to pick her up.  Once again she joined the discussion, prepared with ample notes and questions.  She also brought fudge from a confectioner in Truckee.  Between the tables and passing of the fudge, we had a delayed start, but we got right to it once we realized that Joanne had to leave in 45 minutes.

Most everyone said they enjoyed this book but there was plenty of criticism.  Kathy had a hard time with how fractured the stories were and felt she would have enjoyed it better if Dean had written it is "Marisa's Story."  I thought that made perfect sense and I too would have preferred a less artistic approach and more from Dean as the storyteller.  Several of you knew that she wrote the entire book, having never been to Russia which is really remarkable.  She wasn't able to go until after the book sold and the book paid for her trip.

Diana and Darlene both loved the descriptions of the art and were especially moved by her prose.  There was one thing we were in total agreement on.  When Marissa loved art so much and could describe it in such moving detail that even though it was absent, those on tour with her were moved to tears, how could she never have shared any of that with her daughter Helen who was struggling as an artist?  Marisa was always kind and thoughtful of others, even in dementia, but her children were not included in and knew nothing of their mother's past.  And Mary noted that Marisa's disposition in dementia was unusual.   Many elderly as they lose their self, they also lose their kindness.

Barbara took a lot of interest in the Alzheimer's segment of the story, because she has a friend who experienced a cerebral aneurysm two years ago while working her hospital nursing shift.  She is now in a nursing facility with limited recent memory.  Jenny said that's why Alzheimer's is call a pre-dementia condition - there is more to dementia.  It is a broad classification. So much of the book is about memory that memory became almost its own character.

We talked about the unwavering, sensitive and powerful relationship between Marisa and Dmitri.  The question most hotly contested was - who was Andre's father?   Was the naked man on the roof a hallucination?  Marisa claimed Andre was fathered by Zeus.  Carol believed that Dmitri was not the father and had quite a few notes supporting that position.  Several of us thought the whole episode on the roof was a hallucination and accepted the paternity of Dmitri.  Even Dmitri wasn't confident that he was the father.and wondered if she had been raped by a soldier.  Carolyn's question was - why would the author have introduced the naked man if that weren't important? 

A question from the publisher asked us to consider:  What do you think actually happened?  Is it a flaw or a strength of the novel that the author doesn't resolve this question?  We certainly got hung up on it for a time and I don't remember that we answered that question.  Our conversation segued into memory and our experiences with it, and with forgetfulness.  And from there it moved on to our changing bodies.  These are issues on our minds and it was good to laugh about them with friends "of a certain age."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Night Circus

We had a sizeable group today for the discussion.  Darlene and Carolyn read it for a second time and Jennifer said she really liked it.  This was the first fantasy we've read as a book group and the rest of us admitted that we wouldn't have read it, had it not been for book club.

We found the author's shuffling of years from chapter to chapter a little confusing.  Carolyn decided that since she had read it before, she'd go back and put the events in sequence.  She decided that actually diminished the fantasy - author created part of the illusion.

We all enjoyed the circus and the characters.  Jennifer really liked the early part with the dinners during the planning stages of the circus, but said she found the writing spotty with sections she liked much better than others.  We agreed.  We liked the world Morganstern created but would have like a more defined plot, and perhaps that's because we aren't accustomed to reading this genre.

Maureen had found and printed an interview with the author.  Darlene had watched several YouTube interviews, so both of them provided interesting elements that helped us understand the "why" of the book.  Morgenstern had developed the venue and characters before she had a plot.   Darlene said she admired the incarnations the author endured to achieve the final story.  We talked about the stories in us for a bit.  Claudia said she had always thought she had a story in her but was just too lazy to write it.  Isn't that the truth! 

 Darlene said the author does not have a sequel but the book is being made into a movie.  I think the biggest question we came away with was why, when this book has been so popular, did we not read it with the same enthusiasm.  I was finishing it on the airplane on our flight home yesterday.  My daughter flipped through it and asked to read it when I'm done. The book was reviewed as young adult by the School Library Journal.  Perhaps we were not the target audience, however I know it's not a book I'll forget.  So we have another reading adventure from the Tuesday Book Club~

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

I was worried after hearing from so many of the group that they were reading and loving this book that it might be one of those where we all agreed we liked it and there wasn't much else to say.  I'm happy to have been wrong.  The last time I saw Maureen, she told me she had been crying because of the book.  I hadn't started it yet and I felt a little panic. 

I don't think I've ever read anything like this.  I had to skip the accident and it appears that we all skimmed it and also that the Evison was vague in the telling.  He wrote this book as a catharsis to the memory of a road trip taken by his 16-year-old sister who never came back.  She was killed on her birthday and the event shattered his family. 

It was great to have Jennifer and Diana's perspectives as professional caregivers, what is required and expected.  Jennifer said a lot of the training is on right the job.  Diana added that it's physically demanding so CNAs end up with strained wrists and pulled backs.  So much is expected while so little is paid.  What an occupation for Ben Benjamin to enter after two years of depression and alcoholism to see that Trevor's bottom was deeper than his own.

And then we devolved into laughing at the antics and characters, two dads trying to reinsinuate themselves into lives of alienated teens.  And how can you not appreciate Bob who can't seem to control anything in his life, including his fly, yet takes a trip like Trevor's dream road trip and sends those perfect postcards.  Then the poor man drives into the only post along the highway and is stuck face down in the sofa bed he tried to prepare for his guests, only to rescued by them when they arrive.

One thing that struck a chord across the group from Ben:  "Listen to me: everything you think you know, every relationship you've ever taken for granted, every plan or possibility you've ever hatched, every conceit or endeavor you've ever concocted, can be stripped from you in an instant.  Sooner or later, it will happen.  So prepare yourself.  Be ready not to be ready.  Be ready to be brought to your knees and beaten to dust.  Because no stable foundation, no act of will, no force of cautious habit will save you from this fact: nothing is indestructible." 

We liked the honest ending, no slick new world for Ben Benjamen, but the promise of a new beginning - a different one.  He had shattered his old world on the road trip, taking chances, losing control and starting over, incorporating other lost characters in the journey.  We are left with no idea how the next chapter will start, only that there will be a next chapter.  I like redemption stories.

In an interview Evison said, it's a story of total collapse, and ultimately, reconstruction.  Before it is over, this calamitous journey will cover five states, resulting in one birth, two arrests, and one instance of cannibalism and including a dust storm, a hail storm, several shit storms, and a six-hundred-mile cat-and-mouse pursuit by a mysterious Buick Skylark. 

This goes on my top ten list, along with The Shipping News.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


We had a little larger group than usual today and all said they enjoyed the book, some more enthusiastically than others.  Some breezed through it but a few of us felt that The Dovekeepers could have benefited from some tightening and perhaps less repetition of the magic, spells and incantations. 

 I wondered where the line was drawn between witchcraft, which was clearly an abomination in the Old Testament, and where the superstition and spells were accepted.  Joanne reminded us that in that time the Kabbalah was used to as a source of explanations, and it had it roots in Jewish mysticism.  As Mary said, either it was God's will, or it was not. 

Kareen is on vacation but wrote - "Funny, usually I can place myself into the book, as one of the characters or at least a bystander.  I couldn't in this book so never got emotionally involved."  She has been to Masada and said that the ramp built by the Romans was spectacular.  "One could tell they they were very determined to get into that fortress." 

We appreciated the tremendous research that Hoffman invested into writing this book, a five-year project.  She led us into the heart of a violent past with the personal and intimate interactions between the characters that would have made it impossible to feel immersed in the history otherwise.

Told in four parts, I think we favored the last one, though I agree with Carolyn that it was maybe too convenient that Shirah was Yael's nursemaid in the beginning.  Jennifer said the same about the ending, when it came to a surprisingly happy-ever-after conclusion .

The final discussion centered around the relationships between the mothers and daughters and why they made the decisions that they did, because secondary to the story of the zealots holed up in Masada is story of the women.  From there we digressed to the complex mother/daughter relationships and really didn't return to the book.  And a good time was had by all :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Sense of an Ending

One of our first comments today was how pleased we were to find such a short, well-written book.  The other thing we were in universal agreement on was our surprise at the ending.  So much of Tony's introspection was about memory and it's reliability. As one reviewer noted, "Mr. Barnes does an agile job...of unpeeling the onion layers of his hero's life while showing how Tony has sliced and diced his past in order to create a self he can live with. In doing so Mr. Barnes underscores the ways people try to erase or edit their youthful follies and disappointments, converting actual events into anecdotes, and those anecdotes into a narrative."  We were in for a ride.

Carolyn had marked and read this quote from Tony: "We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe.  We imagine we were being responsible but were only being cowardly.  What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them."  We only know Tony through his thoughts:  "What did I know of life, I who had lived so carefully?  Who had neither won or lost, but just let life happen to him?"

Adrian remarked on it first in Old Joe Hunt's class:  “History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation."  He seemed to be old beyond his years and we couldn't help question that if when his mother abandonment him, she took his joy with her. I wondered after I got home if his attraction to Mrs. Ford might have been related to the absence and distance of his mom.

Tony's friendship with Adrian was really packed into a short span of time when you stop to think of it.  Adrian died at 22, yet it seems that Tony continued to look up to him:  "He took his own life" is the phrase; but Adrian also took charge of his own life, he took command of it, he took it in his hands - and then out of them."  Robson's suicide note was "Sorry Mum."  Adrian left a missive, yet ironically it appears their reasons for suicide might have been similar.

We spent a great deal of time trying to figure out Veronica.  Had she "suffered damage a long way back" or was that another of Tony's rationalizations?  We realized that we only knew anyone through Tony's eyes so Kathy said she was surprised to read in one review that Veronica was bookish and shy.  Tony showed her to us as aloof and a tease.  We questioned if he were ever in love with her.  He even asked her and she replied, if you have to ask, you weren't.  Then we wondered if he truly ever loved anyone or had friends.  He turned Margaret into a mother figure.  God knows where his mother was since his parents weren't part of his reflections.  Were this read in a college seminar, I'm sure the mother themes would be examined closely.

The first half of the book seemed to be Tony's recollections and rationalizations.  At one point he said, "Learning the new emotions that time brings.  Discovering, for example, that as the witnesses to your life diminish, there is less corroboration, and therefore less certainty, as to what you are or have been."  His musings seemed to substantiate his mediocrity and apathy in everything.  Finally I asked if anyone had liked Tony.  Carolyn and Peggy but said they did.  We were floating on his slightly self-congratulatory cloud when Veronica dropped his spiteful vitriolic letter on him, which changed everything.  It showed just how much of his past he had recreated and changed to make himself comfortable.

When Kathy asked about "blood money" we had to assume that it was somehow related to the letter - it implies buying someone off.  Why did Mrs. Ford leave him the money and the diary?  Peggy said she thought the mother's actions were evil and meant to punish.  We didn't understand why Veronica kept her meetings with Tony as the end unraveled.  I didn't know if any of it could be explained by the fact that she was the adult child of an alcoholic.  We certainly realized that she had been short-changed and wronged, but Tony gives us little else to go on.  Veronica wasn't exactly helpful.  "You don't get it," she kept saying with exasperation, like the clues were all that obvious.

I asked if anyone knew the meaning of the egg on the cover and Darlene did.  It was the egg that Mrs. Ford cooked for Tony, threw in the trash and made another.  He kept recalling that scene over and over.  You know this is going to be on college reading lists and boy would I love to be a fly on the wall during the discussions.  I came across a blog post from another reader addressing some of the same questions we had.  Click here to read her thoughts.  The writing was delicious and an opening into a promising reading year.