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Recent Reads: Book Club

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I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but I’m in a book club with a really great group of girls I met through (oddly enough) our kickball team. We take turns meeting at each other’s homes. Every month or so we eat lots of yummy food, drink a cocktail or two and, of course, discuss our agreed upon book. I’ve loved our last two books so much, and I wanted to share them with you before I forgot.

Our most recent book club book was The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

Going in, all I knew about the premise of this book was that it was written from a dog’s perspective.

“Enzo, a loyal family dog, tells the story of his human family, how they nearly fell apart, and what he did to bring them back together. Enzo knows he is different from other dogs – he thinks and feels in nearly human ways. He has educated himself by watching extensive television, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo realizes that racing is a metaphor – that by applying the techniques a driver would apply on the race track, one can successfully navigate the ordeals and travails one encounters in life.”

I LOVED this book. It could easily be cheesy (you know, the whole dog’s inner thoughts thing), but instead it’s a beautifully written and often tragic tale of a man, his family, his hardships, and his dog. Stein inserts some Eastern theology in from time to time (i.e. reincarnation) but it didn’t interrupt the plot enough to bother me. I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you have a dog. Confession: I’ve been talking to Lois like she can understand every word I say ever since.

Before that we read The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon.

“THE STORY OF BEAUTIFUL GIRL is the story of Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability that hinders her ability to speak, and Homan, an African American deaf man with only his home sign language to guide him. Both were institutionalized in the mid-twentieth century, when people with disabilities were routinely shut off from society and left to languish without attention, forgotten.One night, Lynnie and her sweetheart, Homan, escape. They find refuge in the farmhouse of the widow Martha, a retired schoolteacher. But the couple is not alone; Lynnie has just borne a child. The authorities catch up to them; Homan escapes into the darkness and Lynnie is caught. But just before she is gruffly taken back to The School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, she utters two words to Martha: "Hide her." And so begins the tale of three lives desperate to connect, yet kept apart by seemingly insurmountable obstacles.”

While The Art of Racing in the Rain made me tear up a few times, I’m pretty sure I cried during the entire second half of The Story of Beautiful Girl. No, not cute girlie sniffles. Like, UGLY cry. Like, woke Jacob and Lois up I was sobbing so hard reading in bed. Something about the beauty of the story and the injustice and prejudice the main characters faced made me very emotional. The book is long, and borders on slow at times, but is completely worth it in my opinion. Read this book soon. And don’t forget the tissues.

For our next book, we’re reading The Paris Wife, based on the love affair between Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley-review to come soon!

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