David Margolick describes the lives of two girls in the famous photograph from Little Rock Central High School’s desegregation in 1957: a stoic African-American girl walking on the first day of school followed by a white girl, her face distorted as she screams racial epithets. Elizabeth and Hazel is a thought provoking and memorable exploration of how this experience affected their lives in attempts to reconcile the painful, traumatic experience within themselves and with each other.
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Fiction: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris by Leanne Shapton
The mementos we save reveal much of ourselves: what gives us pleasure, what we consider important, and what we most want to remember. In other words, they tell a story, and that is exactly what author Leanne Shapton demonstrates in her unconventional work, Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry. This is narrative by way of auction catalog, and each entry provides a glimpse into the relationship of a metropolitan couple. Lenore and Hal’s story is literally illustrated with depictions of the souvenirs of their lives, most of which has little monetary value. However, viewed as a collection, the pieces take on a fresh and fascinating significance, first for the couple and then for the reader.
Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.
For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.
New: Fantasy and Sci-Fi
A.L. Herbert has packed Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles with comfort food and the entertaining antics of Halia Watkins and her family. Along with running her restaurant Mahalia’s Sweet Tea, Halia looks out for her boisterous cousin Wavonne and grudgingly answers to the whims of Marcus, the primary investor of the restaurant and a schemer doused in cologne. Halia’s plate is filled even fuller when she finds a dead body in her kitchen and moves the body into the alley to “fix” the situation. As a result, Wavonne is named a primary suspect and it’s up to Halia to clear her cousin’s name, all the while running a restaurant with the most delicious corn bread in town.
Addie Baum, The Boston Girl, recalls her life story to granddaughter Ava. Born in 1900 and saddled with a difficult mother, Addie must overcome poverty, gender roles, and lack of education. Author Anita Diamant has created a lovable character who peppers serious subjects with humorous asides and grandmotherly advice.
In the thick of World War II, a small team of dedicated and resourceful men launch a daring operation to open a route of escape for 1200 British soldiers trapped on an island off the Turkish coast. A Nazi fortress boasts two giant guns trained on the only approach to the isle, and full-scale army attacks have met with disastrous failure. Though written in 1957, Alistair MacLean’s The Guns of Navarone crackles with enough tense action and shocking double-crosses to thrill modern audiences. Five tough, irreverent, and courageous troopers, each with a unique specialty, join forces to scale obstacles both natural and manmade. Mounted with enough authentic detail to bring the excitement to life, this is a mission to restore your belief in heroes.
Previously known as the Orange Prize, Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction is in its 20th year. This week the annual prize has released its longlist featuring 20 different titles with plans to reveal the shortlist April 13th. The award is dedicated to recognizing literary merit in women from around the world “…whilst also stimulating debate about gender and writing, gender and reading, and how the publishing and reviewing business works.”
Up for a challenge? Try to see if you can read all of the nominees before the announcement of the winner on June 3rd! Below are some of the titles Mount Prospect owns.
With spring on the way, it’s time to get started on the household DIY projects that have been set to the side. Sherry and John Petersick share more than 200 ways to decorate and update a variety of living spaces. Mixing photographs with drawings and humor with helpful tips, the couple presents ideas ranging from using a Sharpie to spruce up a shelf to more complicated projects like creating sink backsplashes. Sherry and John spread the wealth of where they receive inspiration from by listing their favorite websites and magazines plus featuring guest bloggers throughout. With such a range of ideas, Young House Love will be sure to inspire a variety of crafters, from the inexperienced to the more seasoned.
Title: The Round House
Author: Louise Erdrich
Page Count: 321 pages
Genre: Coming of Age Stories, Literary Fiction
Tone: Reflective, Moving, Bleak
Summary from publisher:
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface because Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe’s life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared. While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
1. The Round House is a book for which a sentence or two summary cannot fully capture the experience it holds. How would you describe the feel of reading this story?
2. As you read, were you conscious of the fact that it was an older Joe looking back on this summer? Did that impact the narrative for you?
3. This work has been described as a coming-of-age story. In what ways are Joe’s experiences universal? In what ways are they specific? Does this category do justice to the narrative?
4. One of the ways a typical adolescence is explored is through sexual curiosity and preoccupation. Were you at all uncomfortable with these depictions in a story that is incited with a brutal sexual assault? Was this intentional?
5. The Round House deals with some deeply troubling themes and struggles. How was that balanced? Were there elements that lightened the story for you?
6. Describe Joe’s friendship with Cappy. What did he add to the story?
7. Is Joe proud of his heritage? What does this narrative have to say about cultural identity?
8. Much of the complication for Geraldine’s case is the question of jurisdiction. How does the legal relationship between the U.S. and the Ojibwe complicate the investigation?
9. Why didn’t Geraldine simply lie and say she knew where it happened? Do you agree with her reasons?
10. When Joe makes his decision, he says it is about justice, not vengeance. What do you think? How does that decision change him? Does his decision change your perception of him?
11. One reviewer shared, “In Erdrich’s hands, you may find yourself, as I did, embracing the prospect of vigilante justice as regrettable but reasonable, a way to connect to timeless wisdom about human behavior. It wasn’t until I put the book down that I recognized – and marveled at – the clever way I had been manipulated.” Was your experience similar to that of the reviewer? Does this affect your assessment of the book and/or the author?
12. How would you describe Father Travis and his role in the story?
13. Near the end of the story (p.306), Joe’s father talks of “ideal justice as opposed to the best-we-can-do justice”. What did he mean? How is this borne out in the story?
14. What else did Joe’s father want him to understand from that conversation? Did he make his point?
15. What was the importance of the wiindigoo motif?
16. Do you feel you have a good understanding of what Geraldine was like before the incident? How does the author convey this?
17. At one literary festival panel, during a discussion of the general lack of strong marriages in fiction, author Lorrie Moore said she felt the marital life of Joe’s parents was a central part of The Round House. In what ways would you agree or disagree with this statement?
18. What were the most uncomfortable scenes for you? Did these lessen your enjoyment of the book as a whole?
19. What was the significance and the symbolism of the Round House? Why choose this as the title?
20. How would you describe the author’s writing style and storytelling choices?
21. At the conclusion of the novel, when Joe’s parents are driving him home and they don’t stop at the roadside café, Erdrich writes, “we passed over in a sweep of sorrow that would persist into our small forever. We just kept going.” What do you think she meant?
22. The Round House won the National Book Award and was later selected for Book Crossing, a shared reading program between Mount Prospect Public Library and our sister city, Sèvres, France. What elements make this book a good choice for discussion?
Video of National Book Award honors
NY Times Q&A with Louise Erdrich
Resource guide from Minnesota Book Awards
University of North Carolina questions for reflection
Another perspective: book response
If you liked The Round House, try…
To be discovered and promoted by a wealthy patron is what most young artists can only imagine, but David Smith was the promising exception. Too bad his ego brought it all crashing down after only six months. While at his lowest, he is offered the chance to make a different dream come true: he will have the power to create anything he wants but will only have 200 days to enjoy the gift before he dies. When he falls for a mysterious girl and dares to desire a different future, the true cost of his bargain seems much too dear. The Sculptor is one of the year’s most anticipated graphic novels, and author Scott McCloud’s expert techniques frame a story of ambition, love, and self-discovery.