|"I have been a booklover since childhood and have been involved in book clubs since before Oprah popularized the concept. To that end, I have been a member and facilitator of book clubs with every age group (and both genders) from seven year olds to “seniors.” I believe that one of the most impactful activities I did as a parent was the Mother Daughter Book Club I developed with my daughter (and other mothers and daughters). I am delighted to bring my passion for books (especially children’s and young adult literature) to DIESEL, A Bookstore. I am also the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Del Mar Highlands Town Center store."|
This was the first selection of my men/women Book Club which speaks to its broad appeal. It reads like a novel though it is nonfiction (a genre I adore). Behind the Beautiful Forevers chronicles the life in Annawadi, a slum created on land belonging to the Mumbai Airport. It was developed by migrant workers who came to work on the Airport in 1991. In this book, we become involved with the lives of Sunil, an orphan who is a trash picker, Fatima, a troubled woman with one leg who longs for a different life, Manju who is trying to become the first resident to graduate from college and her mother, Asha who is striving to become a “slumlord.”
Behind the Beautiful Forevers won the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. It was also adapted into a play by David Hare and shown on National Theatre Live.
Another narrative nonfiction book, In the Garden of Beasts chronicles the life of the Dodd family in Berlin particularly the years from 1933-1937. William Dodd was head of the History Department at the University of Chicago when he was chosen to be the Ambassador to Germany. (He had earned his Ph.D in Leipzig 40 years prior.) We get revealing insight into the Nazi government through Dodd’s adult daughter Martha. She was in the process of divorce and became involved in the Berlin social life which included relationships with a number of Gestapo and Soviet officials. Meanwhile, through William Dodd’s work with government officials (both American and German) we become aware of the multi-faceted nature of an Ambassador’s role at that time. I have read two other books by Erik Larson and found them all to be well-researched and riveting.
A debut novel that enables the reader to experience the complicated lives of a family who have recently immigrated from Cameroon. Neni, the wife, is a home health aide who is also attending college and dreams of become a pharmacist. Jende, her husband, drives a cab. Their son Liomi is a sensitive six year-old who adores both his parents but particularly his father. Set against the backdrop of the 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, Jende’s life changes when he becomes the chauffeur for a Lehman Brothers executive, Clark Edwards. Eventually Neni also takes a temporary job at the Edwards’ second home. The complexities of the immigration process, the facade of a seemingly perfect life of a wealthy family and the unraveling of a major investment company are woven together in a very engaging read.
This is an autobiographical novel based on a true story. Virginia lives with her large family in a small, earthen-walled home. At seven years of age, she is taken from her village to be a servant to a mestizo couple. She educates herself “behind their back” and through perseverance changes her educational opportunity and thus her life. Some more sensitive readers may need support as the cruelty of Virginia’s life are described. She does triumph in the end so the lesson of perseverance is a strong message. The Queen of Water won many awards including the ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults and the ALA Amelia Bloomer Selection. It is a great stand-alone read but also ideal for a Mother Daughter Book Club.
Written by a New York City public school teacher, Drita, My Homegirl chronicles a developing relationship between two girls from very different worlds. Maxie, an African-American, is understandably very angry (and “sassy”) as her mother has recently died. Drita has just arrived from Kosovo and is not readily accepted in her new school especially with her limited English. The principal wisely puts them together on a “special project” which has an unexpected outcome. I adored the relationship the two young girls developed but I also appreciated the wisdom and caring nature of the adults in this novel. Drita, My Homegirl provides many themes that would be wonderful for a Mother Daughter Book Club with younger readers.
Drita, My Homegirl is on many reading lists of schools around the country.