Friday, May 5, 2017

MAY 2017 BOOKERS MINUTES & MUSINGS, Orphan # 8 by Kim Van Alkemade

21 Bookers armed with sustenance descended on the home of Melanie Prebis for our “wine and cheese” evening to say farewell for the summer to meeting, but not reading. Bookers will resume on September 12 for the beginning of our fourteenth year of camaraderie celebrating a mutual love of the written word. Please keep in mind this is your book club. My role is simply the facilitator (an adored role I might add!) Your input on the direction of Bookers is a valued part of its success, our goal continuing to be to embrace our own “cup of tea” reading choices and at the same time, challenge our minds and hearts with an understanding of what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Thank you for this opportunity and we (MN and I) look forward to resuming Bookers in the fall.

New PWC member, Kittie Minick, joined us for our end of year soiree, and we hope she got a taste of what we are all about and will join us again. As always, Bonnie Magee did an excellent job as our food czar and we appreciate her organizational expertise. Many thanks to Kathi Baublits for coordinating Jane Freer’s Summer Fun Bucket, which she delivered today, and to everyone who contributed a wonderful assortment of “fun” and love. Jane called earlier to give an update on how she is doing and to express her heartfelt appreciation for everything Bookers has done to try to boost her spirits. All the flowers from last month are planted under the big tree in their front yard and she and Gary are enjoying the wealth of color added to their landscape. Jane recently spent two days in the hospital and this past Monday she received a double bag of chemotherapy, starting her “rough patch.” She’ll have a week off then a CT scan and MRI to assess the results of the chemo. If good news is measured in love, prayers, and support, we’ll all be toasting Jane’s prognosis!! Kay Hazelbaker sent a thank you card to Bookers for all the well wishes. We missed Lee McFarlane also, and hope she is on the road to recovery from her recent surgery.

The mere mention of mistreatment of Jewish children and medical experimentation allowed comparisons of Orphan # 8 to the horrors of the Holocaust. The author, doing some family research, came across information on the day-to-day operations of an orphanage that in 1920 was one of the largest childcare institutions in the country. The inspiration for the novel came from a request for the purchase of wigs for eight children who had developed alopecia because of X-ray treatments. She tapped into her family tree to produce characters based on her great-grandfather and great-grandmother, discovering how many women were involved in medical research on children during this timeframe and the dual role of medicine in healing and harm. Ms. Van Alkemade referencing the “unnatural” relationship between Rachel and Naomi remained true to the norm of the era in which they lived their lives in secret and as adults would be referred to as “female spinster roommates.” As late as the 1950’s, homosexuality was a psychological disorder that could be cured through analysis and therapy, its cause, “a deep-seated and unresolved neurosis…instead of really being happy, they are lonely and unhappy but afraid to admit it.”

Patty Evans dissected this month’s selection, Orphan # 8, a multi-layered novel, with the skill of a surgeon fostering a lively discussion from our group. The novel begins with four-year old Rachel Rabinowitz living with her parents and older brother in a crowded tenement in New York City’s lower Eastside. When tragedy strikes, Rachel is sent to a Jewish orphanage where she is part of an experimental X-ray protocol conducted by Dr. Mildred Solomon. Years later Rachel is confronted with her dark past when she becomes a nurse at Manhattan’s Old Hebrew Home and her patient is none other than the elderly, cancer-stricken Dr. Solomon. Rachel arrived at the orphanage, “whole, undamaged, and pretty,” but Dr. Solomon left her weak, vulnerable, and disfigured. If you had the power to seek revenge on the woman who ruined your life, what would you do? Rachel finally realized what it felt like to control someone’s destiny. Could she justify her actions because the old woman was going to die anyway? In the end, she recognizes that a person’s fate – to be the one who inflicts harm or one who heals – is not always set in stone.

The majority of our group read and finished the novel, those who did not found the mistreatment of children too much to bear. Granted it was not an easy read, but Rachel discovered a resolve to continue moving forward, not allowing herself to be swallowed up by her circumstances, pursuing a career in the care-giving field of nursing. She found the fortitude to break through the walls of misery, evolving as a valuable asset to society, becoming a genuine “good girl.” We discussed mother figures, abandonment, the men in Rachel’s life, the importance of cuddling children from a very early age, and some personal blasts from the past.

On the business side:
Bookers donated many books to the Pinnacle Free Library located downstairs of the Clubhouse only to discover the bookcase was removed due to mold. John Magee generously offered to build a new one for the cost of materials, around $150.00. We voted to embrace this project and Beverly Dossett is collecting the funds for us. Please contact her if you can help with this project. If we collect additional funds, we hope to purchase a Bookers plaque for the bookcase with the intention of donating books throughout the year for others to enjoy. This is our way of letting the community in on our secret… Bookers’ books.

If you have attended a meeting in the last year, it’s no secret that my voice does not carry well and without MN’s hypnotic aura, we’ve enlisted an external microphone to help in the voice of Bonnie Magee, so if you hear her asking you to gather around…she’s doing her job.

With our summer read in flux because of the production delay of Life in a Box, we offered the suggestion of meeting in June in hopes a publish date could be shared for my novel at that time. We voted not to meet, but to wait for the announcement hopefully by the end of June, and select Life in a Box as our summer read to be reviewed in September. Chances are a Q&A with the author will be available at the meeting. HA! Thanks again for all your support!!!!!

Last year we held the December meeting at the Club preceded by cocktails and a very nice dinner. We just learned from our reviewer that when she took the podium, our audience appeared almost asleep and another observation was that it was difficult to hear the discussion if you were sitting behind the participant. We’ll work on a solution or another alternative during the summer.
Here’s a few suggestions to whet your reading appetite while enjoying our break:

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. A memoir written by a former marine and Yale Law School graduate…a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town. It’s a personal analysis of a culture in crisis – that of white working-class Americans. He tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
Tribe by Sebastian Junger. Decades before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin lamented that English settlers were constantly fleeing over to the Indians-but Indians almost never did the same. Tribal society has been exerting an almost gravitational pull on Westerners for hundreds of years, and the reason lies deep in our evolutionary past as a communal species. The most recent example of that attraction is combat veterans who come home to find themselves missing the incredibly intimate bonds of platoon life. The loss of closeness that comes at the end of deployment may explain the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by military veterans today. Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, Tribe explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning.
America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. An historical fiction telling of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph, the woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father. She became the “first lady” when her mother died and at fifteen learned about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age.
Beartown, by Fredrik Backman, bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true. People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a chance at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Elizabeth Strout’s latest, Anything Is Possible, written in the same vein as her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Olive Kitteridge, a series of linked short stories exploring the whole range of human emotion through intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others. The characters are from My Name is Lucy Barton, featuring the return of Lucy to her hometown after a seventeen-year absence.

 A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles, author of Rules of Civility, is set in a famed Moscow hotel where movie stars hobnob with Russian royalty.
The Doula, by Bridgit Boland, a debut novel about a doula trained to support women and their families during childbirth who is on trial for her best friend’s death.
The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever, by Mark Frost. The year is 1956 and an impromptu eighteen-hole best ball match features living legends Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson versus rising stars, Harvie Ward and Ken Venturi.
Taking Flight, by Adrian R. Magnusom. A thirteen-year old boy sent against his will by his career-absorbed father to spend the summer with his bipolar mother meets a one-legged elderly man with mid-stage Alzheimer’s on a cross-country flight. What happens next is a lifetime adventure for both.
Ida Mae Tutweiler and the Traveling Tea Party, by Ginnie Siena Bivona. A simple, charming yarn that will make you laugh out loud and shed a tear about women, mothers, daughters, sisters, and lifelong friendships.  
                                COLOR CODING SYSTEM
                                WHITE:          LIGHT READ
                                PINK:             MODERATELY CHALLENGING
                                RED:              CHALLENGING

September 12                         Beginning Year 14
                                                Life in a Box, a novel by JoDee Neathery
                                                Home of Kathi Baublits
                                                Reviewer: TBA

October 3                               Moved a week early due to garage sale conflict
                                                Book: TBA
                                                Host home: TBA
                                                Reviewer: TBA

November 14                         Book: TBA
                                                Host home: Chris Batt
                                                Reviewer: TBA

December 12                          Book: TBA
                                                Host home: TBA
                                                Reviewer: TBA

January 9, 2018                     Book: TBA
                                                Home of Daryl Daniels
                                                Reviewer: TBA

February 13                           Book TBA
                                                Home of Bonnie Magee
                                                Reviewer: TBA

March 13                                Book: TBA
                                                Home of Patty Evans
                                                Reviewer: TBA

April 10                                  Book: TBA
                                                Home of Sandy Molander
                                                Reviewer: TBA

May 8                                     Book: TBA
                                                Host Home: TBA
                                                Reviewer: TBA
Have a wonderful summer…curl up with a good book!


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