Find
10 South Emerson, Mount Prospect, IL 60056 | 847/253-5675
Font:

Check It Out

Book Discussion Questions: The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore

Cover of The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-EatTitle: The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat
Author: Edward Kelsey Moore
Page Count: 369 pages
Genre:  Women’s Lives and Relationships
Tone: Humorous, Moving, Relational

Summary from publisher:

Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat diner in Plainview, Indiana, is home away from home for this inseparable trio.  Dubbed the “Supremes” by high school pals in the tumultuous 1960s, they’ve weathered life’s storms for over four decades and counseled one another through marriage, children, happiness and the blues. Now, however, they’re about to face their most challenging year yet.

Proud, talented Clarice is struggling to keep up appearances as she deals with her husband’s humiliating infidelities; beautiful Barbara Jean is rocked by the tragic reverberations of a youthful love affair; and fearless Odette is about to embark on
the most terrifying battle of her life.  Join these strong, funny women as they gather each Sunday at the same table at Earl’s diner for delicious food, juicy gossip, occasional tears and uproarious laughter.

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

1. What did you think when you realized Odette was speaking with her dead mother?

2. If you were regularly visited by the ghosts would you tell anyone? If so, whom would you tell?

3. What did you think of Mrs. Roosevelt? Why do you think Moore chose Mrs. Roosevelt? Did this add to the story in your mind? Did it bother you to see her as kind of a goof or were you amused?

4. Author Edward Kelsey Moore said, “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat is rooted on fond memories I have of a childhood spent eavesdropping on the women of my family as they talked at family gatherings. Even when I was too young to fully understand the often very adult subject matter of their conversations, I was struck by how quickly the topics veered from heartbreakingly tragic to wildly hilarious….. My intention in writing The Supremes was to celebrate the joy of true friendship and to invite readers to remember the funny, strong and smart women in their lives.”

Did he accomplish this?

5. Does he do a good job conveying the feelings of women accurately? Were there certain points in particular that you thought he captured any of the women’ thought lives very well?

6. The book went back and forth between Odette narrating and scenes described in the third person.   Did that work for you? Why do you think Moore chose Odette to narrate? How would the book have been different if narrated by Clarice or Barbara Jean?

7. How do you think the structure added to the story? (moving back and forth from character to character and through the decades) How did it detract?

8. What character and/or story were you drawn to the most?

9. In the reviews many people commented that they had trouble remembering who was who. Did you have trouble distinguishing between the characters?

10. Much of the book takes place at Earl’s diner with Earl being a guiding source in the background. His character is never fully explored though and we don’t really get to know Earl. Why do you think Moore did that?

11. All three friends had unusual circumstances around their births. What were they and how were they important to their identity? Why was this important to the story?

12. Moore is an African American and the three women are African-American as well. How important is race to this story?

13. How does growing up black in a small town in the 70’s impact their lives? (how they walk home, who they hang out with, small town: grownups who know them, knowing people’s habits)

14. Is it easy to envision some of the relational aspects of the book working in a story with three white women?

15. How does Moore illustrate the mother daughter tension throughout the story? All of the women expressed a fear of becoming their mother. Who do you think ended up being most like her mother?

16. Clarice stayed with Richmond in part because of her mother’s expectations of how a lady should behave. Barbara Jean marries Lester and we read that it was hearing her mother’s voice that led to her break up with Chick. Granted, she’s a teen when this happens, but at what point in a woman’s life does her mother stop being to blame for what she does or says?

18. Did Barbara Jean make a wise decision to not stay with Chick? Do you think it was the right one for her? Was it fair of her to marry Lester while she was in love with someone else?

19. We don’t get access to the inner thoughts of James, Lester and Richmond. In what ways did Moore show us what kind of men each of them are and what they value?

20. Moore shows us inside their three different marriages. Was there love in each of these marriages? How would you describe their relationships?

21. In high school Clarice seemed to have the prize boyfriend, yet years later it is when she sees James try to style Odette’s hair that Clarice gains the determination to leave Richmond. Why do you think this moment was a game changer for her?

22. How did people respond to Clarice’s decision to move out? How did you respond?

23. Why does Barbara Jean find that good memories weigh as much as the bad and need to be drunk away?

24. All three friends seem to be in different places in their spiritual life. What is going on with them? How is religion handled in the story?

25. What did you think of Odette’s initial decision to keep her diagnosis to herself?

26. Leaning Tree is a small town. In what ways does this book show the good and bad of living in a small town?

27. Who were your favorite secondary characters?

28. The diner itself served as a character. What impact do you think it had on the overall story, the characters and the community?

29. What did you think about the ending? Did it fit well with the rest of the story?
Other Resources

Covers of the International Editions
Reading group guide
Video of Edward Kelsey Moore on The Supremes
Q&A with Edward Kelsey Moore
Interview with Edward Kelsey Moore

If you liked The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, try…

Cover of Far From the TreeCover of Who Asked You? Cover of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Far From the Tree by Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant
Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

 

 

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on April 8, 2015 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Humor

Staff Pick: Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson

Cathleen staff picks photoPaging through Carnet de Voyage is like a virtual backpack trip through Europe and Morocco. Craig Thompson’s sketchbook travel diary depicts in simple yet telling detail the moments, individuals, and local color that made indelible impressions on him during a combination book tour and search for exotic new inspiration.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on April 7, 2015 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Cathleen, Staff Picks

New Arrivals: Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense

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: Mystery Books

Cover of Whiskers of the Lion Cover of Lethal Beauty Cover of Tattered Legacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whiskers of the Lion by P.L. Gaus
Lethal Beauty by Lis Wiehl
Tattered Legacy by Shannon Baker

Cover of AsylumCover of Stiff Penalty Cover of Blue Avenue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asylum by Jeannette De Beauvoir
Stiff Penalty by Annelise Ryan
Blue Avenue by Michael Wiley

New: Thrillers and Suspense

Cover of The Patriot Threat Cover of The Pocket Wife Cover of Lacy Eye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry
The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford
Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway

Cover of The Devil's Detective Cover of As Good as Dead Cover of Werewolf Cop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Devil’s Detective by Simon Kurt Unsworth
As Good As Dead by Elizabeth Evans
Werewolf Cop by Andrew Klavan

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on April 3, 2015 Categories: Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, New Arrivals

Nonfiction: Blue Horses by Mary Oliver

Cover of Blue HorsesOver the past forty years, Mary Oliver has accumulated praise and awards for her poetry and prose, including a Pulitzer Prize. Her recent collection of poems, Blue Horses, builds upon her previous explorations of nature and spiritual considerations. Observations about her surroundings twist into keen insights of what it means to live on earth and what she yearns for. Strong imagery pierces through Oliver’s unassuming conversational tone, turning nameless feelings into something tangible as she grapples with how she fits in the world. “I’m not trying to be wise, that would be foolish,” she writes. “I’m just chattering.” Whether intentional or not, Oliver exudes wisdom, as she meditates on the material world and beyond.

April is National Poetry Month! Stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen Services desk on the second floor or email readers@mppl.org to help you find poetry, prose, and everything in between.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on April 2, 2015 Categories: Books, Nonfiction

Staff Pick: The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

Cover of The Hundred Year HouseNancy of Fiction/AV/Teen Services suggests The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

Laurelfield, a grand old estate north of Chicago, is the centerpiece of Rebecca Makkai’s clever novel. The book begins in 1999 with descendants of the well-heeled Devohr family. Zee Devohr and her husband Doug, both academics, are living temporarily in the coach house. Doug hopes to do research on an obscure poet who lived at Laurelfield when it was an artists’ colony in the 1920s, but Zee’s mother is surprisingly protective of whatever files and artifacts might be in the attic. The narrative travels backward in time, leaping to 1955, 1929, and 1900, revealing Laurelfield’s complicated past and its eccentric occupants. In this reverse chronological order, echoes from the past – and future – are well crafted, and the engaged reader will be rewarded. With its rich detail, fine prose, and dark humor, The Hundred Year House is a unique and satisfying read.

 

For more eccentric characters in grand settings, try…

Cover of The Last Summer of the Camperdowns
The Last Summer of the Camperdowns by Elizabeth Kelly is the rollicking novel about a 12-year-old girl’s eventful summer of 1972 on her dysfunctional family’s Cape Cod compound.

Cover of Rooms
In Lauren Oliver’s suspenseful novel Rooms, a troubled family arrives at the mansion of their estranged, recently deceased patriarch, but find there are ghosts too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover of Bellweather Rhapsody
In the witty Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia, talented high school musicians and their chaperones descend upon a huge, once-grand hotel in the Catskills for a music festival on the anniversary of a shocking crime.

Cover of A Sudden Light
Set in a haunted mansion in the Pacific Northwest, A Sudden Light by Garth Stein is an atmospheric novel narrated by a 14-year-old boy who embarks on a quest to learn more about the house and his family’s secrets.

Cover of An Evening of Long Goodbyes
An Evening of Long Goodbyes by Paul Murray features colorful characters at a crumbling seaside estate near Dublin, where the cozy existence of 24-year-old Charles is about to be given a serious shake-up.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 26, 2015 Categories: Books, Picks by Nancy, Staff Picks

Book Discussion Questions: Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Cover of Half the SkyTitle: Half the Sky
Author: Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Page Count: 294 pages
Genre: Nonfiction, Social Issues
Tone: Inspirational

Summary from publisher:

With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope. They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad.

 

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

1. Half the Sky is not the first book to raise worldwide social issues. What about this work makes it stand out? Why do you think it has taken hold, even sparked a movement?

 2. Would you describe Half the Sky as a difficult book to read? A worthwhile one? Believable? Tragic? Overhyped?

3. From the introduction: “Many of the stories in this book are wrenching, but keep in mind this central truth: ‘Women aren’t the problem, but the solution. The plight of girls is no more a tragedy than an opportunity.’” Do they make their case?

4. How did you read this book? In large chunks? Small sections? Audio? How do you think that impacted your experience?

5. Have any of you seen the documentary before or after reading Half the Sky? Before or after? How did that complement your experience? Any significant differences?

6. How did you respond to the writing style and the book structure? Would you say these choices are what makes it accessible?

7. Gender politics and issues can be tricky. Do the authors succeed in moving this beyond a “women’s issue” to a “human rights issue”? Would the case have been more difficult to make if two women were writing about the issues?

8. “Frankly, we hesitate to pile on the data, since even when numbers are persuasive, they are not galvanizing. A growing collection of psychological studies show that statistics have a dulling effect, while it is individual stories that move people to act. In one experiment…”

Is this a fair representation? Do we rise to stories but nod-and-pass too easily with statistics? Is it true across the board or do you think it differs according to individual? Were there numbers that shocked you?

9. The authors do rely on stories to bring the issues to life. Which ones stood out? Even if you don’t recall names — which situations, images, atrocities have stayed with you? What proposed solutions excited you or seemed most promising?

 10. Did it surprise you at all that so many were willing to share such painful stories with a male American journalist? In what ways does owning and telling the story empower the individual?

11. “Rescuing girls is the easy part…the challenge is keeping them from returning.” How could this be true?

12. How does a book like this affect how you view the world?

13. Were you surprised by the extent to which women were involved in oppression or abuse of other women? Why or why not?

14. Did you find the book balanced in revealing what doesn’t necessarily work/unintended consequences without cherry-picking results?

15. Some raise the concern that journalism of this type can be sensationalistic, voyeuristic, or even endanger the subjects. In what ways are these valid? Does the good outweigh the bad?

16. Did you sense any political agenda or bias in the writing?

17. Even though the book focuses on Africa and Asia, many of the problems addressed occur in Europe and the U.S. as well. How are these issues similar across regions, and how do they differ?

18. The writers address the idea of cultural imperialism: “If we believe firmly in certain values, such as the equality of all human beings regardless of color or gender, then we should not be afraid to stand up for them; it would be feckless to defer to slavery, food-binding, honor killings, or genital cutting just because we believe in respecting other faiths or cultures.” How do you respond? How do we walk a tightrope in terms of telling another culture what they believe is right or wrong?

19. From the documentary: “Sometimes people want to do too much, so they do nothing. They say, ‘I cannot help.’ Everyone can help. Everyone can do one thing.” Is there truth in this? How do we overcome those mental obstacles?

20. The book was first published in 2009. Do you think anything has change? Have you heard of the “movement” before reading Half the Sky?

21. When we feel convicted or inspired by a work such as Half the Sky, how do we keep that active? How do we keep ourselves from forgetting or sinking back into complacency?

Other Resources

 Half the Sky Movement webpage
Lit Lovers Discussion Questions
Videos produced by Half the Sky Movement
Discussion facilitation guide for Half the Sky
Video interview with Kristof and WuDunn
Extended interview with Kristof and WuDunn
Article: What’s So Scary About Smart Girls?

If you liked Half the Sky, try…

Cover of Paradise Beneath Her FeetCover of A Call to Action Cover of The Blue Sweater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paradise Beneath Her Feet by Isobel Coleman
A Call to Action by Jimmy Carter
The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 25, 2015 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Nonfiction

Staff Pick: Elizabeth and Hazel by David Margolick

Picture of LarryDavid 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.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 24, 2015 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Larry, Staff Picks

Fiction: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris by Leanne Shapton

Important Artifacts book coverThe 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.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on March 23, 2015 Categories: Books

New: Audiobooks, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi

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: Audiobooks

Cover of Funny Girl Cover of First Ladies Cover of A Dangerous Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby
First Ladies hosted by Cokie Roberts on NPR
A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear

Cover of An Absent Mind Cover of Silver Screen Fiend Cover of Geneva Strategy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Absent Mind by Eric Rill
Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt
The Geneva Strategy by Jamie Freveletti

 

New: Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Cover of The Fire Sermon Cover of Half the World Cover of A Darker Shade of Magic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
Half the World by Joe Abercrombie
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Cover of Lines of Departure Cover of Vision in Silver Cover of Unbreakable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lines of Departure by Markus Kloos
Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop
Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 20, 2015 Categories: Audiobooks, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, New Arrivals

Fiction: Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles by A.L. Herbert

Cover of Murder with Fried Chicken and WafflesA.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.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 19, 2015 Categories: Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense