Sunday, March 20, 2016

MARCH 2016 BOOKERS' MINUTES & MUSINGS, If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

Getting out of your comfort zone requires bravery…like the mama eagle pulling straw from her eaglet’s nest until the babies are balancing on the branches…it’s how we survive…it’s called love.

22 Bookers “trekked through the woods, trippin’ over roots, dodging sinkin’ in the mud, gazin’ up at endless treetops while birds trillin’ and fussin’ ” paving our way not to a camper hidden in Tennessee’s Hundred Acre Wood, but to the serenity of Rebecca Brisendine’s home set amongst a screen of trees whispering the sounds of spring. Oh how we would love to take credit for choosing this home as the backdrop for If You Find Me.

Many thanks to Bonnie Magee for bringing new member, Jeanie Quintal, to the meeting. It’s always a treat to discover a new book lover among us! And, to the birthday girl, Lee McFarlane for bringing her lifelong friend visiting from New Orleans to meet the group. And our thoughts and prayers go to Barbara Creach on the passing of her brother, David, husband to past PWC member, Gloria Barrett. Applause for Barbara’s review of this month’s selection, especially under the circumstances. Great job. Thank You.

Jean Alexander announced that on March 22nd at 4:30 P.M. the remainder of Lois Welch’s ashes will be scattered in the area of the Path of Remembrance (across from the Pinnacle Driving Range) dedicated to one of our beloved residents, made possible by donations from members of two of her passions, Bookers and Bridge. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join in this final tribute to a special lady who touched the hearts of everyone she encountered. 

As a resident of Henderson County, we are painfully aware of the disparities surrounding our communities, evidenced by a March 9th report of a two-year old and a three-year old left in a travel trailer without water or electricity, no supervision, little food and an open flame inside the trailer. In 2015, close to three-hundred children were removed from their homes in our three county district with volunteers logging in more miles than it takes to circle the equator in search of “forever families.” Sandy Molander made an impassioned plea for the critical need for more CASA volunteers, providing details as to the processes, time involvement, and responsibilities that go along with volunteering. If you are interested, please contact CASA, 903-675-7070 or email,

This debut author, Emily Murdoch, lives in Arizona and runs the Morning Star Ranch, a sanctuary for slaughter-bound horses and burros. The novel is a young adult/adult crossover, evident by some of the writing, i.e. some metaphors and similes are directed at the younger audience, but the plot held the story together into a riveting suspenseful tale of two young girls left to fend for themselves in the middle of nowhere at the mercy of their bipolar, drug addicted mother. The details of the girls journey, centered around that “white-star” night, the night five-year old Janessa stopped talking, spoke in a raw language as eight-year old Carey said, “Mama brought home men…their dirty sandpaper hands rubbed me raw in the most secret, velvety of places.” As the story unfolds, we wonder whose story is accurate – the mother, Joelle, who hid her daughter from the abusive father, or Charlie’s…Carey’s only memory of her father is his smell of pine and oak moss – Brut deodorant – and he claims he never touched Carey. When he and the caseworker show up, Cary has to choose between her fears and the safety of her little sister. There are a number of twists and turns throughout the novel that keep the reader turning the pages (the goal of any good book!!) and although the ending is predictable, it’s an emotional ride that ends well. “Happiness is free”

About one-half of the group liked the selection, although some expressed if they had known the target audience was young adults, they would have read it differently. The major complaints were: it was unrealistic the girls were so educated; where did Carey get all the ammunition if they barely had enough food to survive; why did the mother write the letter enabling CPS and the father to find them…was she in rehab and forced to write as part of a twelve-step program, setting up a possible sequel with “sober” Joelle; caseworkers are not as loving as Mrs. Haskell; when Carey entered school, she wouldn’t just be let out at the front door; the reaction of Carey when she found Delaney “entertaining” a boy at the party; the coincidence of Ryan Shipley and Carey as childhood friends; Carey and Janessa’s new life on the “farm” with the perfect stepmother and loving father, the only conflict was a jealous stepsister. Having said all that, the love between the sisters was powerful, several (and you know who you are) loved the three-legged dog Shorty, the story showed how resilient children are, and it was difficult to put down as the author built the narrative to keep our interest until the end. We did have a request for a “Mary Poppins” type selection…but experience has shown us if we select a book everyone likes and fulfills the Pollyanna in us all, our meeting consists of happy faces and not a lot of discussion, although we understand the need for a dash every now and again.

One thing we failed to discuss about If You Find Me was the opening poem Spring and Fall by Gerard Manley Hopkins addressed to a young child, “Margaret, are you grieving/Over Goldengrove unleaving?” It’s about contrasts: age and youth, death and life, fall and spring. But, more than that, it is about the moment in a child’s life when she suddenly realizes that childhood doesn’t last forever – someday, children grow up, grow old, and die. Death is a part of life and we all need to face up to this at some point in our lives. In using this poem, the author prophesied the life path Carey and Janessa, and all of us for that matter, would follow.

       On the business side:
Jean Alexander recommended, the non-fiction trilogy, A Child Called It, The Lost Boy, and A Man Called Dave, by Dave Pelzer. Sandy Molander suggested What I Remember Most by Cathy Lamb, fiction.

The world of literature and readers alike mourn the deaths of Harper Lee and most recently, Pat Conroy, both who possessed a magical way of mingling words to enable the visualization of the human spirit. Ms. Lee tells us not to “judge people before you know them,” while Mr. Conroy believed, “what is rare for one may not be unique to anyone else…don’t take away the dreams of others because they are not yours.” On the last page of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout says, “Atticus, he was real nice,” to which he replies, “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.” From The Prince of Tides, Pat writes, “Never kill anything that’s rare.” They left these drops of wisdom within the body of their masterpieces for us to savor.

MN, her sister Pam, and I agree Elizabeth Strout’s latest book, My Name is Lucy Barton is a must read, however, it’s most likely one that would not appeal to our group overall. So, we’re planning a special Bookers’ gathering, Friday, April 8th, 11:00 A.M. at the Pinnacle Club where we’ll lunch and talk with our mouths full about this book. We would love to see everyone there and ask that you email me if you can join us so we can make the reservations. The novel, although very short, is packed with emotion, to the extent that you can “hear” the silent pauses in conversation.

We voted to table our summer reading option until after the April 1st Books in Bloom luncheon featuring the author of The Train to Crystal City and we’ll decide at our April Bookers’ meeting whether to pick this or The Prince of Tides, in honor of Pat Conroy.

                                     COLOR CODING SYSTEM
                                     WHITE:         LIGHT READ
                                      PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                                      RED:              CHALLENGING

April 12th:                               Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
Home of Kay Robinson
Reviewer: Jean Alexander
May 17th:                                Wine & Cheese evening meeting, 6:00 P.M.
                                                Note later date
                                                Bonnie Magee, Food Czar
                                                A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
                                                Home of: Beverly Dossett
                                                Reviewer: Jean McSpadden
Summer Break:                     June, July, & August
                                                Summer Read, TBD
September 13th:                      Beginning of Bookers’ 12th year

“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.” Winnie The Pooh.

Happy Reading,


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