Seniors Book Club | May Selection

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Print and eBook Options

This Library-led drop-in book club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

Book Club Kit copies are available for participants upon request from the Adult Information Desk (780-459-1682).

Register to drop-in and discuss this spell-binding novel and controversial publishing sensation.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy–two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia –trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte , Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.

Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

FURTHER READING

Jeanine Cummins biography

Wikipedia biography (including timeline of publishing controversy)

Author interview (BookBrowse)

An Irish Times article discussing the controversy with the author

The Atlantic article about the controversy

A New York Times book review

A critical review (slate.com)

Discussion Questions (Publisher’s Reading Guide)

The Death Train (La Bestia)

https://theconversation.com/migrants-at-us-mexico-border-must-get-past-cartels-before-their-long-journey-ends-129403

Mexican Migration in 2021

Jeanine Cummins is working with the International Rescue Committee to raise funds to help support severely under-resourced programs that offer protection and hope to the men, women, and children waiting in Mexico to get to the United States. She is matching donations up to $100,000 until the end of 2020. https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/borderlands

WATCH & LISTEN

Youtube interviews with Jeanine Cummins

ARTE Reportage on La Bestia

An NPR Audio interview

A Bookreporter podcast

“Bookaccino Live” Book Group Event Discussing AMERICAN DIRT

Seniors Book Club | April Selection

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
by Patrick Radden Keefe

“Book club only” print copies are available at the downtown location of the Library. To pick up a copy, visit the Information Desk on the 2nd floor.

Register to drop-in and discuss this acclaimed, award-winning book which expertly blends true crime and the history of the troubles in Northern Ireland.

The Seniors Book Club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville’s children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress–with so many kids, she had always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes.

Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders.

Further reading

Review: How Conflicts End – And Who Can End Them | The Atlantic

Review: ‘Say Nothing’ — Part History, Part True Crime — Illuminates the Bitter Conflict in Northern Ireland | The New York Times

Review: ‘Say Nothing’ reexamines a mother’s murder in Northern Ireland’s most violent years | Los Angeles Times

Whatever You Say … Say Nothing: An Interview with Patrick Radden Keefe | Los Angeles Review of Books

‘My Only Real Loyalty is to the Truth’: An Interview with Patrick Radden Keefe | Hazlitt

The Troubles: Northern Ireland History | Britannica

Watch & Listen

Chicago Humanities Festival Interview

Wind of Change (podcast by author Patrick Radden Keefe)

Seniors Book Club | March Selection

Moon of the Crusted Snow
by  Waubgeshig Rice

Print | eBook and eAudiobook (Hoopla)

The Seniors Book Club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

Register to drop-in and discuss this slow-burning thriller and powerful story of survival.

We’ve been waiting for this story. It irresistibly turns our gaze toward something we already knew but couldn’t quite make ourselves see. The result is intense, thrilling, and vivid as the darkest dreams – much like the old Anishinaabeg stories told by the Elders. As one revelation follows another, we come face to face with mystery and responsibility of being human. ~Warren Carious, director, University of Manitoba Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture. 

Further Reading

About Waubgeshig Rice

Quebec couple flees to Indigenous community during the pandemic.

Toronto Star | At Home During COVID-19

Hamilton Review of Books Interview

CBC Books

Twitter

Watch & Listen

Seniors Book Cub | February Selection

Akin
by Emma Donoghue

Print | eBook

The Seniors Book Club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

Please register here to discuss Emma Donoghue’s novel Akin, a brilliant tale of love, loss and family.

A retired New York professor’s life is thrown into chaos when he takes his great-nephew to the French Riviera, in hopes of uncovering his own mother’s wartime secrets. Noah is only days away from his first trip back to Nice since he was a child when a social worker calls looking for a temporary home for Michael, his eleven-year-old great-nephew. Though he has never met the boy, he gets talked into taking him along to France. This odd couple, suffering from jet lag and culture shock, argue about everything from steak haché to screen time, and the trip is looking like a disaster. But as Michael’s ease with tech and sharp eye help Noah unearth troubling details about their family’s past, both of them come to grasp the risks that people in all eras have run for their loved ones, and find they are more akin than they knew. Written with all the tenderness and psychological intensity that made Room a huge bestseller, Akin is a funny, heart-wrenching tale of an old man and a boy who unpick their painful story and start to write a new one together. (Publisher)

Further Reading

About Emma Donoghue

About Akin (including a personal note by Emma Donoghue)

A Chatelaine interview

A Waterstones Blog interview

A Guardian book review

A Washington Post book review

An Irish Independent book review

An Irish Times book review

Discussion Questions

Historical background on Nice, France

Excelsior Hotel, Nice – historyWatch & LISTEN

About Odette Abadi (co-founder of the Marcel Network)

Washington Post article about the Marcel Network

 

WATCH & LISTEN

An Appel Salon (Toronto Public Library) video interview

A CBC Books video trailer

Interview by Shelagh Rogers on CBC’s The Next Chapter

Interview by Tom Power on CBC’s Q

 

 

Seniors Drop-In Book Club | January Selection

Chop Suey Nation
by Ann Hui

Print | eBook (Hoopla)

The Seniors Book Club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

Please register here to discuss Ann Hui’s road-tripping cultural and culinary exploration in Chop Suey Nation.

In 2016, Globe and Mail reporter Ann Hui drove across Canada, from Victoria to Fogo Island, to write about small-town Chinese restaurants and the families who run them. It was only after the story was published that she discovered her own family could have been included—her parents had run their own Chinese restaurant, The Legion Cafe, before she was born. This discovery, and the realization that there was so much of her own history she didn’t yet know, set her on a time-sensitive mission: to understand how, after generations living in a poverty-stricken area of Guangdong, China, her family had somehow wound up in Canada.

Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurantsweaves together Hui’s own family history—from her grandfather’s decision to leave behind a wife and newborn son for a new life, to her father’s path from cooking in rural China to running some of the largest “Western” kitchens in Vancouver, to the unravelling of a closely guarded family secret—with the stories of dozens of Chinese restaurant owners from coast to coast. Along her trip, she meets a Chinese-restaurant owner/small-town mayor, the owner of a Chinese restaurant in a Thunder Bay curling rink, and the woman who runs a restaurant alone, 365 days a year, on the very remote Fogo Island. Hui also explores the fascinating history behind “chop suey” cuisine, detailing the invention of classics like “ginger beef” and “Newfoundland chow mein,” and other uniquely Canadian fare like the “Chinese pierogies” of Alberta.

Hui, who grew up in authenticity-obsessed Vancouver, begins her journey with a somewhat disparaging view of small-town “fake Chinese” food. But by the end, she comes to appreciate the essentially Chinese values that drive these restaurants—perseverance, entrepreneurialism and deep love for family. Using her own family’s story as a touchstone, she explores the importance of these restaurants in the country’s history and makes the case for why chop suey cuisine should be recognized as quintessentially Canadian.

Further Reading

Globe & Mail Review

The Tyee Review

Calgary Herald Interview

Forbes Interview

The Adroit Journal Interview

Watch & LISTEN

The Agenda with Steve Paikin | Stirring Up my Chinese Family History

The Next Chapter | Ann Hui on Chop Suey Nation

CBC Radio | 5 Delicious podcasts on food & identity

The Sporkful with Dan Pashman | Your Mom’s Food 

Seniors Drop In Book Club November Selection

No Good Asking
by Fran Kimmel

Print | eBook (Hoopla) | eAudiobook (Hoopla)

You can also access the ebook via Libby (we have a “simultaneous use” subscription for this title).

Additional “book club only” print copies are available at the Adult Information Desk upon request.

The Seniors Book Club usually meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom. Please note: because of Remembrance Day this month, we will meet a week later on November 18!

Special exciting announcement: the author, Fran Kimmel, will visit our group for part of the meeting!

Register to drop-in and discuss this heart-felt and heart-warming novel.

A profoundly moving exploration of our capacity to heal one another.

Ellie and Eric Nyland have moved their two sons back to Eric’s childhood farmhouse, hoping for a fresh start. But there’s no denying it, their family is falling apart, each one of them isolated by private sorrows, stresses, and missed signals. With every passing day, Ellie’s hopes are buried deeper in the harsh winter snows.

When Eric finds Hannah Finch, the girl across the road, wandering alone in the bitter cold, his rusty police instincts kick in, and he soon discovers there are bad things happening in the girl’s house. With nowhere else to send her, the Nylands reluctantly agree to let Hannah stay with them until she can find a new home after the Christmas holidays. But Hannah proves to be more balm than burden, and the Nylands discover that the only thing harder than taking Hannah in may be letting her go.

Author website

Open Book interview

Lacombe Express interview

Author interview (Alexis Marie Chute blog)

A Kirkus book review

A Prism Magazine book review

Discussion Questions

 

Seniors Drop-In Book Club

The Skin We’re In
by Desmond Cole:
A Year of Black Resistance and Power

Print | eBook

Additional “book club only” copies are available at the Adult Information Desk upon request.

The Seniors Book Club meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

Register to drop-in and discuss this provocative and perspective-shifting book.

“The sheer strength of this book arises from its insistent linking of policing, public education, migrant labour, impoverished neighbourhoods, and the fates of refugees. The Skin We’re In is about the interlocking forces besieging Black life in Canada… Desmond Cole is an urgent and essential voice from a generation that will be heard.”

~ David Chariandy, author of Brother

Seniors Drop-In Book Club | September Selection

Recipe for a Perfect Wife : a novel by Karma Brown

eBook | Print |Additional “book club only” copies available at the Adult Information Desk upon request.

The Seniors Book Club continues to meet on the second Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

Please register here to discuss the novel Recipe for a Perfect Wife : a novel by 2020 STARfest author Karma Brown.

Seniors Book Club | July Selection

Molly of the Mall
by Heidi L.M. Jacobs

eBook | Print

The Seniors Book Club continues to meet on the second Wednesday of the month at 2:00 PM via Zoom.

Registration to discuss the 2020 winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal, Molly of the Mall is now open.

“Heidi L.M. Jacobs has created a delightfully whimsical protagonist in Molly. Always informed by the characters from literature she loves, she approaches life in her own unique, and fanciful, way. Such fun to follow the retail nightmares and romantic comedy mishaps of this Austenian heroine of mid-90s Edmonton.”

~ Dina Del Bucchia, author of It’s a Big Deal!
Further Reading
Audio & Video

Seniors Book Club June Selection

One Native Life
by Richard Wagamese
eBook|eAudiobook

The Seniors drop-in book club will continue to meet via Zoom. Registration is required.

Begin Registration

Celebrate National Indigenous History Month and one of the foremost Indigenous authors and storytellers, Richard Wagamese. With the option to download both the eAudiobook and eBook, you’ll have no problem experiencing  Richard’s luminous connection to life this month.

“For Wagamese the land is sacred, and his passion for its healing powers is so contagious that readers may well find themselves inspired to tuck his book under one arm and carry it outside.” Winnipeg Free Press

Further Reading

Milkweed| Bibliography, Bio, & Interview

CBC|Book Review & Interview 

Now Toronto|Who gets to tell Indigenous stories?

Obituary

Globe & Mail

BC Book Look

Video

“An immaculate measure of grace.” Richard’s powerful speech from the Matt Cohen Awards.

Richard reads from One Native Life