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August 2012 Book Group Mixer Handout

The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown

This memoir struck me on so many levels—not just for its exquisite and textured writing but also for its powerful honesty and startling frankness. Ian Brown’s son Walker was born with an extremely rare genetic syndrome. To his parents, caregivers, and even his doctors, Walker is a mystery, unable to speak and truly communicate; his disease makes Walker and his needs, feelings and even his symptomatology a complete unknown. As investigative journalist, Ian turns his focus to the disease, traveling the world to meet with the few doctors and parents of children who know CFC (cardiofaciocutaneous), and becomes immersed in this community. He comes to find the value of every human life, and begins to accept the wonder and love of Walker just as he is.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780312675417
Availability: Out of Print
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - July 17th, 2012

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Before Wild became the Oprah-sanctioned bestselling explosion that it is today, Cheryl Strayed wrote an anonymous advice column for the literary website The Rumpus. Her penname was Sugar. Thousands of people wrote in to confess, vent, and beg for advice, and she answered them. But what sets Strayed apart is her format: instead of dispensing clichéd tidbits, she wrote essays in response. Wrenching, soulful, vulnerable essays that somehow reach right in and poke at the heart of what her desperate readers are really asking. By the time I finished it, I was considering three different tattoos from the book. It’s that kind of read.
Reviewed by: 
Kat
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Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307949332
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Vintage - July 10th, 2012

Blue Nights by Joan Didion

In Blue Nights, Didion again writes about loss and grief—this time focusing in on the death of her daughter, Quintana Roo. Like The Year of Magical Thinking there is an unflinching honesty to Didion’s voice. book groups especially will be drawn in to discuss the complexity of Didion’s narrative structure. Her writing is layered and rhythmic, so we are handed sentences and words that repeat and spiral. It is as if Didion could not help herself, writing in overlapping threads of memories and moments that cannot be separated from the life and love of a person who is so suddenly absent. Blue Nights is haunting and singular—a book whose very inertia is in the complex filter of a life sifted through loss. Didion has handed us a compilation of grief—an assembly that is determined and striking, and will ring familiar to anyone that has had to form their own narrative around holding on and letting go.
Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Blue Nights Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780307387387
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Vintage - May 29th, 2012

The Final Leap by John Bateson

Every month, an average of 3-4 people leap to their deaths from the Golden Gate Bridge, and several more are talked down from the edge. This is a startling fact, one that few people are aware of. John Bateson wants to challenge the stigma and the fear that keeps these stories from being told. The issue of whether or not to erect a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge is hugely divisive and heated, and Bateson argues that it is indicative of the way we think (or fail to think) about mental illness. Whether or not you agree with him, this is a book that will challenge preconceptions and make you think. I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9780520272408
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: University of California Press - April 18th, 2012

Feed by M.T. Anderson

This book will scare the heck out of you. It will make you want to delete your facebook account. And I don’t say this as a luddite—I have a smartphone, though I mostly use it to take pictures of puppies—but as someone who was genuinely shaken by this book’s eerily prescient description of technology literally taking over human bodies. There is so much to talk about in this book—our roles as consumers, the inescapability of the internet, and how technology alters our lives and what it forces us to give up. Harsh but not gloomy, with crackling dialogue and subtle, precise world-building.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
Feed Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780763662622
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Candlewick - July 17th, 2012

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

I know that book groups might be hesitant to read a book that falls into the Young Adult genre, but truly I think any story that can depict childhood and coming of age in a way that can immerse both young and adult readers, is a story that is well worth discussion. In When Things Come Back 17 year-old Cullen narrates what happens when his small town suddenly becomes a hotspot after what was thought to be extinct woodpecker is spotted. Cullen is both impressed and mortified by his town's transformation—suddenly his peers are sporting woodpecker inspired haircuts and bird-watching becomes an ideal date. But then when his 15-year-old brother goes missing amidst the chaos, Cullen’s surprise turns to something more vigilant and shadowed. The gift of this YA novel (which was the winner of the coveted Michael Printz award) is the way that regret, surprise, and humor are all interweaved. Layered and remarkably unique, this novel calls to mind how ordinary and extraordinary are only a coin’s throw apart.

Where Things Come Back Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781442413337
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - May 3rd, 2011

Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

This is one of those really amazing “what if” books, the kind that introduces a disastrous, novel event and then picks through it with salt-of-the-earth characters. The “what if” in this book is the rapture – kind of. In a single moment, millions of people simply vanish, leaving not even smoke in their wake. The ‘victims’ cross all religious, cultural and socioeconomic borders, leaving those left behind bewildered and unable to define the phenomenon. The result is fiction that is at once strange and all too realistic.
Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
The Leftovers: A Novel Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781250054227
Availability: Backordered
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - June 10th, 2014

Trapeze by Simon Mawer

Marian Sutro is an ordinary nineteen-year-old living in extraordinary times. She comes of age in England during World War II (yes, another one, but I promise this is good!), and she cannot escape the desire to serve her country. She is accepted into a secretive program, spirited away to a training camp in the wilds of Scotland, and then parachuted into occupied France, where she must work undercover. She does not entirely understand her position, but the stakes could not be any clearer. Despite the over-the-top storyline, this is a quiet book that does not flaunt any James Bond tropes, and that is what makes it so piercing and believable.
Reviewed by: 
Kat
Staff Pick Badge
Trapeze: A Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781590515273
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Other Press - May 1st, 2012

Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman

This is a good pick for someone who loved The Year of Magical Thinking. It’s not quite a memoir, but not entirely a novel either—somehow, I like to think of it as a shrine. Francisco Goldman had been married for only two years when his beautiful, talented wife was killed in a freak accident at the beach. Say Her Name is sad, yes, but what brings it to life is the glow of love and devotion in every sentence. Reading it, one gets the feeling that no one has ever loved anyone as much as Francisco loves Aura. And that’s not going away. Visceral, delicate, unrelentingly beautiful, and so worth the tears.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
Say Her Name Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780802145802
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Grove Press - April 10th, 2012

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