Brown Bag Book Discussion Group
Meets the fourth Tuesday of the month at Noon at 26 North Road
Books are available at the library's circulation desk.
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
Tuesday, March 26 at Noon
"A kid is a terrible thing to be, in charge of nothing." So says young Damon Fields, who's destined to be known as Demon Copperhead, a hungry orphan in a snake-harboring holler in Lee County, Virginia, where meth and opioids kill and nearly everyone is just scraping by. With his red hair and the "light-green eyes of a Melungeon," Damon's a dead-ringer for his dead father, whom he never met. More parent to his mother than she was to him, he's subjected to hellish foster situations after her death, forced into hard labor, including a stint in a tobacco field, which ignites one of many righteous indictments of greed and exploitation. Damon funnels his dreams into drawings of superheroes, art being one of his secret powers. After risking his life to find his irascible grandmother, he ends up living in unnerving luxury with Coach Winfield and his smart, caustic, motherless daughter. Kingsolver's capacious, ingenious, wrenching, and funny survivor's tale is a virtuoso present-day variation on Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, and she revels in creating wicked and sensitive character variations, dramatic trials-by-fire, and resounding social critiques, all told from Damon's frank and piercing point of view in vibrantly inventive language. Every detail stings or sings as he reflects on nature, Appalachia, family, responsibility, love, and endemic social injustice. Kingsolver's tour de force is a serpentine, hard-striking tale of profound dimension and resonance."
Solito by Javier Zamora
Tuesday, April 23 at Noon
"Trip. My parents started using that word about a year ago--"one day, you'll take a trip to be with us. Like an adventure."
Javier Zamora's adventure is a three-thousand-mile journey from his small town in El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, and across the U.S. border. He will leave behind his beloved aunt and grandparents to reunite with a mother who left four years ago and a father he barely remembers. Traveling alone amid a group of strangers and a "coyote" hired to lead them to safety, Javier expects his trip to last two short weeks.
At nine years old, all Javier can imagine is rushing into his parents' arms, snuggling in bed between them, and living under the same roof again. He cannot foresee the perilous boat trips, relentless desert treks, pointed guns, arrests and deceptions that await him; nor can he know that those two weeks will expand into two life-altering months alongside fellow migrants who will come to encircle him like an unexpected family.
A memoir as gripping as it is moving, Solito provides an immediate and intimate account not only of a treacherous and near-impossible journey, but also of the miraculous kindness and love delivered at the most unexpected moments. Solito is Javier Zamora's story, but it's also the story of millions of others who had no choice but to leave home."
Small Mercies by Dennis Lehane
Tuesday, May 28 at Noon
"Set during the summer of 1974, this superior crime drama from bestseller Lehane (Since We Fell) explores deep-rooted racism in South Boston. While the community primes for a series of rallies organized by mob boss Marty Butler against school desegregation, 42-year-old single mother Mary Pat Fennessy is preoccupied with the disappearance of her rebellious, 17-year-old daughter, Jules. Though Jules's friends claim she started walking home around midnight, mistrust and animosity toward Jules's doltish boyfriend and a drug dealer Mary Pat holds responsible for her late son's overdose bring out a mother's frustration and rage. Her ensuing acts attract the interest of two detectives who are investigating the mysterious death of a Black man at a nearby subway station. The unwanted attention Mary Pat draws to the neighborhood threatens Butler's business dealings, making him and his close-knit crew keen to put an end to her action builds to a gloriously tense and discomforting finale. Readers will be left feeling battered and scarred."
The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder by David Grann
Tuesday, June 25 at Noon
"From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon and The Lost City of Z, a mesmerizing story of shipwreck, survival, and savagery, culminating in a court martial that reveals a shocking truth.
On January 28, 1742, a ramshackle vessel of patched-together wood and cloth washed up on the coast of Brazil. Inside were thirty emaciated men, barely alive, and they had an extraordinary tale to tell. They were survivors of His Majesty's Ship the Wager, a British vessel that had left England in 1740 on a secret mission during an imperial war with Spain. While the Wager had been chasing a Spanish treasure-filled galleon known as "the prize of all the oceans," it had wrecked on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia. The men, after being marooned for months and facing starvation, built the flimsy craft and sailed for more than a hundred days, traversing of storm-wracked seas. They were greeted as heroes. But then ... six months later, another, even more decrepit craft landed on the coast of Chile. This boat contained just three castaways, and they had a very different story to tell.
The thirty sailors who landed in Brazil were not heroes - they were mutineers. The first group responded with countercharges of their own, of a tyrannical and murderous captain and his henchmen. It became clear that while stranded on the island the crew had fallen into anarchy, with warring factions fighting for dominion over the barren wilderness. As accusations of treachery and murder flew, the Admiralty convened a court martial to determine who was telling the truth. The stakes were life-and-death-for whomever the court found guilty could hang. The Wager is a grand tale of human behavior at the extremes told by one of our greatest nonfiction writers. Grann's recreation of the hidden world on a British warship rivals the work of Patrick O'Brian, his portrayal of the castaways' desperate straits stands up to the classics of survival writing such as The Endurance, and his account of the court martial has the savvy of a Scott Turow thriller. As always with Grann's work, the incredible twists of the narrative hold the reader spellbound. Most powerfully, he unearths the deeper meaning of the events, showing that it was not only the Wager's captain and crew who were on trial - it was the very idea of empire."
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Tuesday, July 23 at Noon
"Beginning in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, Ferrante's four-volume story spans almost sixty years, as its protagonists, the fiery and unforgettable Lila, and the bookish narrator, Elena, become women, wives, mothers, and leaders, all the while maintaining a complex and at times conflictual friendship.
Book one in the series follows Lila and Elena from their first fateful meeting as ten-year-olds through their school years and adolescence. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her intoxicatingly furious portrait of enmeshed friends," writes Entertainment Weekly. "Spectacular," says Maureen Corrigan on NPR's Fresh Air. "A large, captivating, amiably peopled bildungsroman," writes James Wood in The New is one of the world's great storytellers. With My Brilliant Friend she has given her readers an abundant, generous, and masterfully plotted page-turner that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight readers for many generations to come."