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Tuesday Night Book Club

this club meets in Pella, Iowa

The book selections for Oct. 2010 through August 2011 are:

October, 2010

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
Harper Collins, August 2010, $14.99

William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village and change his life and the lives of those around him. His neighbors may have mocked him and called him misala—crazy—but William was determined to show them what a little grit and ingenuity could do.  Read More

November, 2010

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
Penguin, Feb. 2009, $24.95

Starred Review. What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel  set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who’s raised 17 children, and Aibileen’s best friend Minny, who’s found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it.  Read More

December, 2010

Winter Wheat, by Mildred Walker
University of Nebraska Press, December 1992, $13.95

With an arid “dry-land” wheat farm as both its geographic and metaphoric center, Winter Wheat tells the story of eighteen-year-old Ellen Webb. Her Vermont-born father and Russian-born mother, married during the first World War, have come as homesteaders to Barton, Montana – a grain-elevator and general store. It is 1940, the year Ellen will start college if the wheat harvest is good; it is September, “like a quiet day after a whole week of wind. I mean that wind that blows dirt into your eyes and hair and between your teeth and roars in your ears after you’ve gone inside.” The harvest pays and Ellen goes off to college, where she immediately falls in love: “I hadn’t meant to fall in love so soon, but there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s like planning to seed in April and then having it come off so warm in March that the earth is ready.” Ellen and Gil plan their marriage for after the summer harvest. But Gil arrives and doesn’t find Montana or the life of dry-land wheat farmers beautiful. Ellen begins to see everything, including her parents, with new and critical eyes in this unsparing and poignant examination of love and life.  Read More

January, 2011

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford
Ballantine Books, October 2009, $15.00

“Jamie Ford’s first novel explores the age-old conflicts between father and son, the beauty and sadness of what happened to Japanese Americans in the Seattle area during World War II, and the depths and longing of deep-heart love. An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut.”
Lisa See, bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Read More

February, 2011

Impatient with Desire, by Gabrielle Burton
Voice, March 2010, $22.99

In the spring of 1846, Tamsen Donner, her husband, George, their five daughters, and eighty other pioneers headed to California on the California-Oregon Trail in eager anticipation of new lives out West. Everything that could go wrong did, and an American legend was born.  Read More

OR

The Girl with the Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier
Plume Books, Jan 2001, $15.00

One of the best-loved paintings in the world is a mystery. Who is the model and why has she been painted? What is she thinking as she stares out at us? Are her wide eyes and enigmatic half-smile innocent or seductive? And why is she wearing a pearl earring?  Read More

March, 2011

Still Life, by Joy Fielding
Pocket Books, Jan. 2010, $7.99

Beautiful, happily married, and the owner of a successful interior design business, Casey Marshall couldn’t be more content with her life until a car slams into her at almost fifty miles an hour, breaking nearly every bone in her body, and plunging her into a coma. Lying in her hospital bed, Casey realizes that although she is unable to see or communicate, she can hear everything. She quickly discovers that her friends aren’t necessarily the people she thought them to be–and that her accident might not have been an accident at all. As she struggles to break free from her living death, she begins to wonder if what lies ahead could be even worse.  Read More

April, 2011

Two Rivers, by T. Greenwood
Kensington, Jan. 2009, $15.00

In Two Rivers, Vermont, Harper Montgomery is living a life overshadowed by grief and guilt. Since the death of his wife, Betsy, twelve years earlier, Harper has narrowed his world to working at the local railroad and raising his daughter, Shelly, the best way he knows how. Still wracked with sorrow over the loss of his life-long love and plagued by his role in a brutal, long-ago crime, he wants only to make amends for his past mistakes.  Then one fall day, a train derails in Two Rivers, and amid the wreckage Harper finds an unexpected chance at atonement. One of the survivors, a pregnant fifteen-year-old girl with mismatched eyes and skin the color of blackberries, needs a place to stay. Though filled with misgivings, Harper offers to take Maggie in. But it isn’t long before he begins to suspect that Maggie’s appearance in Two Rivers is not the simple case of happenstance it first appeared to be.  Read More

May, 2011

One Vacant Chair, by Joe Connor
Graywolf Press, Sept. 2008, $14.00

Sarah’s aunt Edna paints portraits of chairs. Not people in chairs, just chairs. The old house is filled with her paintings, and the chairs themselves surround her work—a silent yet vigilant audience. At the funeral of Grandma Hutton—whom Edna has cared for through a long and vague illness—Sarah begins helping her aunt clean up the last of a life. This includes honoring Grandma’s surprising wish to have her ashes scattered in Scotland. As the novel turns from the oppressive heat of Texas to the misty beauty of Scotland, Sarah learns of her aunt’s remarkable secret life and comes to fully understand the fragile business of living, and even of dying. Read More

June, 2011

Never the Bride, by Renee Gutteridge & Cheryl McKay
Waterbrook Press, June 2009, $13.99

Since she was just a little girl, Jessie Stone dreamed up hundreds of marriage proposals, doodled the romantic ideas in her journal with her treasured purple pen, and fantasized about wedding dresses and falling in love. She’s been a bridesmaid nearly a dozen times, waved numerous couples off to sunny honeymoons, and shopped in more department stores for half-price fondue pots than she cares to remember. But shopping for one key component of these countless proposals hasn’t been quite as productive–a future husband. The man she thought she would marry cheated on her. The crush she has on her best friend Blake is at very best…well, crushing.  And speed dating has only churned out memorable horror stories. So when God shows up one day, in the flesh, and becomes a walking, talking part of her life, Jessie is skeptical. What will it take to convince her that the Almighty has a better plan than one she’s already cooked up in her journals? Can she turn over her pen and trust someone else to craft a love story beyond her wildest dreams?  Read More

July, 2011

Sweet Dates in Basra, by Jessica Jiji
Avon, May 2010, $14.99

Just when her family should be arranging her marriage, Kathmiya Mahmoud, a young Marsh Arab maiden, is sent from her home in Iraq’s idyllic countryside to the unfamiliar city of Basra, where she must survive on her paltry earnings as a servant. Her only asset—her exquisite beauty—brings more peril than peace. Worse, her mother appears to be keeping a secret about her own mysterious past, one that could threaten Kathmiya’s destiny forever.  In this lost Iraq of the 1940s, a time of rich traditions and converging worlds, Kathmiya meets Shafiq, a Jewish boy whose brotherhood with his Muslim neighbor Omar proves that religion is no barrier to friendship. But in a world where loss of honor is punishable by death, the closeness that grows between Kathmiya and Shafiq becomes dangerous as a doomed love takes root. When British warplanes begin bombing Iraq and the country’s long-simmering tensions explode, the power of an unbreakable boyhood bond and a transcendent love must overcome the deepening fractures of a collapsing society. Set during the tumultuous years surrounding the Second World War, Sweet Dates in Basra is the redemptive story of two very different cultures, and a powerful reminder that no walls can confine the human spirit.  Read More

August, 2011

Alex Cross’ Trial, by James Patterson
Vision, December 2010, $9.99

Alex Cross tells the incredible story—passed down through the generations—of an ancestor’s courageous fight for freedom. Read More

 

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