Book Club Selections for this month – August 2017
Each other month the Book Club Chairman makes her Book Club Selections and shares them on this page. Check this page monthly for her message and book selections.
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Do Not Say We Have Nothing | Madeleine Thien
Do Not Say We Have Nothing is the captivating saga of an extended family in China and the lives of two successive generations – those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution, and their children who became students protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The novel begins in 1991 when Marie and her mother invite Ai Ming, a teenager who fled the Tiananmen Square crackdown, into their Vancouver home. Gradually, tracking back and forth across more than seven decades of history, Marie assembles the story of her late father and his profound but troubled relationship with members of Ai Ming’s family.
Winner of the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize
Finalist for the 2016 Man Booker Prize
“A vivid, magisterial novel that reaches back to China’s civil war and up to the present day” ―The Guardian
“In a single year, my father left us twice. The first time, to end his marriage, and the second, when he took his own life. I was ten years old.”
Master storyteller Madeleine Thien takes us inside an extended family in China, showing us the lives of two successive generations―those who lived through Mao’s Cultural Revolution and their children, who became the students protesting in Tiananmen Square. At the center of this epic story are two young women, Marie and Ai-Ming. Through their relationship Marie strives to piece together the tale of her fractured family in present-day Vancouver, seeking answers in the fragile layers of their collective story. Her quest will unveil how Kai, her enigmatic father, a talented pianist, and Ai-Ming’s father, the shy and brilliant composer, Sparrow, along with the violin prodigy Zhuli were forced to reimagine their artistic and private selves during China’s political campaigns and how their fates reverberate through the years with lasting consequences.
With maturity and sophistication, humor and beauty, Thien has crafted a novel that is at once intimate and grandly political, rooted in the details of life inside China yet transcendent in its universality.
Discussion Questions | Do Not Say We Have Nothing
The Brink of Freedom | Stella Leventoyannis Harvey
This timely book delves into the heart of a nation that is enduring its own financial crisis while trying to deal with the constant and rising influx of foreigners. A distraught migrant boy is picked up at an aid worker’s apartment under suspicious circumstances, just as a man shows up at the police station to report the abduction of his son. The young Greek officer dealing with both cases wants to get to the bottom of things and do the right thing but in extraordinary circumstances, ordinary people are often faced with impossible choices. With more and more news of the refugee crisis, many of us are asking what we can do to help, and also wonder what it is like to be in the position of those refugees. This book highlights the difficult moral issues people face in times of crisis and how sometimes the best intentions can be misguided compassion.
Every day desperate people at the mercy of smugglers flee conflict zones, crossing the Mediterranean in rickety boats in the hopes of using Greece as the conduit to a better life elsewhere. Thousands perish in the attempt. Those who survive face yet more challenges, for the Greeks themselves, in an economic crisis worse than any in living memory, have neither the resources nor the will to play host to the constant influx of refugees. In The Brink of Freedom we see how worlds collide when a young boy goes missing from a refugee camp in Athens. He is found with a Canadian woman, but the police also apprehend a Gypsy from Ukraine on suspicion of human trafficking. When everyone is desperate, none of the rules of civilized society apply.
Discussion Questions | The Brink of Freedom
Just for Fun Selection
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street | Natasha Pulley
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street takes the reader on a journey through 1880s Victorian London and 1870s Japan, and beyond. Blending historical events, it opens the door to a strange and magical past. This story follows Thaniel Steepleton who works in the Home Office in London after he mysteriously receives a pocket watch that ends up saving his life. He meets the Japanese watchmaker, Keita Mori, as well as the intellectual woman named Grace Carrow, and their stories come together to decipher the mystery. With Mori and Grace pulling at him from opposite sides, and with England seemingly falling apart around him, Thaniel is forced to choose where his loyalty and love really lie.
1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the reader on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles long-standing traditions, and beyond. Blending historical events with dazzling flights of fancy, it opens doors to a strange and magical past.
Discussion Questions | The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Children’s Book Suggestion
A Light in the Shadow | Kaitlyn Brianna Guttridge
Meet Anastasia, a very special candle. Anastasia, along with St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church became a symbol of hope and light after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Anastasia’s journey begins in the year 1919, as she travels to New York City and finds a home in the church. She shares with the reader, daily events and special moments she and her family become a part of over the years. Through the beautifully illustrated pages, her courageous journey comes to life.
The book tells her story through the events of September 11, 2001 up until the historic rebuild of The St. Nicholas National Shrine. Anastasia holds hope for a brighter future not only for her home in New York City, but for the world. The author hopes this book may be used as a tool for parents and teachers to teach and talk to children about the tragic events of September 11th.
Foundation Book Club Chairman
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