Newcomer Book Reads for 2021
January 27: Say Nothing A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe
Leader Mary Bucy
In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville’s children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress–with so many kids, she had always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes.
Patrick Keefe is schedule to appear at the Lenoir Rhyne University Visiting Writers Series on March 18 to 19. You can check their website for information on obtaining tickets at https://www.lr.edu/public-events/visiting-writers-series.
March 24: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Leader Barb Beck
Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable. Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.
May 26: The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment that Transformed Their Lives by Cheryl Jarvis
Leader Amy Chizen
Four years ago, Jonell McLain saw a diamond necklace in a jewelry store window. The necklace aroused desire first, then a provocative question: What if we shared what we desired? Several weeks, dozens of phone calls, and a leap of faith later, Jonell bought the necklace with twelve other women. With vastly dissimilar histories and lives, the women transcended their individual personalities and politics to join together in an uncommon journey. Part charm, part metaphor, part mirror, the necklace weaves in and out of each woman’s life, and comes to mean something dramatically different to each of them. What started as a quirky social experiment became something far richer and deeper, as the women transformed a symbol of exclusivity into a symbol of inclusiveness. They discovered that sharing the necklace was only the beginning: the more they shared with others, the more profound this experience became.
July 28: Even as We Breathe by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle
Leader Christine Almeida (?)
Nineteen-year-old Cowney Sequoyah yearns to escape his hometown of Cherokee, North Carolina, in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. When a summer job at Asheville’s luxurious Grove Park Inn and Resort brings him one step closer to escaping the hills that both cradle and suffocate him, he sees it as an opportunity. With World War II raging in Europe, the inn is the temporary home of Axis diplomats and their families, who are being held as prisoners of war. Soon, Cowney’s refuge becomes a cage when the daughter of one of the residents goes missing and he finds himself accused of abduction and murder. Even as We Breathe invokes the elements of bone, blood, and flesh as Cowney navigates difficult social, cultural, and ethnic divides. After leaving the seclusion of the Cherokee reservation, he is able to explore a future free from the consequences of his family’s choices and to construct a new worldview, for a time. However, prejudice and persecution in the white world of the resort eventually compel Cowney to free himself from larger forces that hold him back as he struggles to unearth evidence of his innocence and clear his name.
September 22: Nickle Boys by Colson Whitehead
Leader Beth Osbahr
When Elwood Curtis, a black boy growing up in 1960s Tallahassee, is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood’s only salvation is his friendship with fellow “delinquent” Turner, which deepens despite Turner’s conviction that Elwood is hopelessly naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. As life at the Academy becomes ever more perilous, the tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Based on the real story of a reform school that operated for 111 years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.
November 17: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Leader Cindi Williamson
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Book Club meets every other month on the 4th Wednesday of the month at the Women’s Resource Center. Our selections for 2021 are posted on the web site. Coordinators are Mary Bucy (email@example.com) and Donna McDermott (mcnona52gmail.com).