Like most young teachers, Laura Freedman wanted to make a difference. She teased her students’ creativity with assignments such as “write a one-page story in which your favorite mystical creature resolves the greatest sociopolitical problem of our time.” Alas, she had her own demons to battle, and after a dramatic breakdown is committed to a mental health facility. Winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award, When Mystical Creatures Attack! is a sparkling debut from Kathleen Founds. Each of the twenty-five linked mini-stories contains a magic of its own, and the sum total burns bright and true. Presented in letters, journal entries, assignments, and e-mails, the commentary may be humorous — even absurd — but the struggles are achingly real.
Check It Out
“For me, singing sad songs often has a way of healing a situation. It gets the hurt out in the open into the light, out of the darkness.” -Reba McEntire
Every once in a while nothing can feel better than listening to a really sad song. This week, Entertainment Weekly‘s staff shared their favorite sad songs in the article “Research Shows Sad Songs Can Make You Less Sad, So Here’s a Playlist.” This got Mount Prospect Public Library’s Fiction/AV/Teen Services thinking about some of their own favorites. Check them out below:
As always, feel free to stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen Services desk on the second floor where we can help you find sad songs, happy songs, and everything in between!
It is 1978; hippies are out, punks are in, and art school dropout Mimi Pond has a new love: The Imperial Café. The staff is wild, the food is to die for, the customers are beautiful, and Pond wants in. Once hired, the reality of dishes, drugs, and social hierarchies rudely interrupts Pond’s romantic vision, and while she might not be playing the beautiful snarky waitress in this graphic novel memoir like she wants to, her eagerness and dirty jokes earn her a place in the crew. Using tones of green, Pond vividly watercolors a realistic snapshot of a west coast breakfast café filled with eclectic characters in Over Easy.
Title: The Dive From Clausen’s Pier
Author: Ann Packer
Page Count: 432 pages
Genre: Coming of Age
Tone: Moving, bittersweet
Summary from publisher:
At the age of twenty-three Carrie Bell has spent her entire life in Wisconsin, with the same best friend and the same dependable, easygoing, high school sweetheart. Now to her dismay she has begun to find this life suffocating and is considering leaving it–and Mike–behind. But when Mike is paralyzed in a diving accident, leaving seems unforgivable and yet more necessary than ever. The Dive from Clausen’s Pier animates this dilemma–and Carrie’s startling response to it–with the narrative assurance, exacting realism, and moral complexity we expect from the very best fiction.
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
1. This is Packer’s first novel. Why do you think it has become so popular? What is the appeal?
2. Packer originally wrote this in the 3rd person, but then rewrote it in the first person. Would you have felt differently about the book had she left it in the 3rd person? How and why?
3. What contrasts did you find in the book, whether in personalities or in other areas?
4. What was the major theme or themes of the story?
5. Carrie asks the question on page 133, “How much do we owe the people we love?” How much do we owe them? How does she answer this question thru her actions in the book? Does her answer change throughout the book? How?
6. What are the different perceptions people have of Carrie’s going to New York? What are her perceptions?
7. Carrie is feeling guilty about leaving and she asks her mother, What kind of person does that make me? Her mother replies, the kind of person you are. You could just have easily have stayed. But that wouldn’t make you a good person any more than leaving makes you a bad one. You’re already made, honey. That’s what I mean. Are people defined by what they do, or by how others perceive them, or by neither?
8. Compare or contrast Mike and Kilroy’s characters. What attracted Carrie to both of them? Were you surprised to find out that Kilroy was forty?
9. What was Carrie’s relationship to Mike based on? What about your relationship to Kilroy?
10. Jamie and Lane are both Carrie’s friends but they are very different also. On page 254 Packer describes their relationships. Do you see a relation between the two female friend characters and the two lovers of Carrie? How?
11. What part does sewing play in the story? How does it change throughout the book?
12. How far can we escape our upbringing? How does that question relate to Carrie? How about to Kilroy?
13. Does finding out the mystery of his family, both meeting his parents, and finding out about his brother’s death explain who Kilroy is? Why or why not?
14. What makes Carrie finally return home? Does guilt or obligation make her decide to stay or is it something else – what? Is she settling, giving up or being true to herself?
15. At the end of the book Mike asks,
“We never would have gotten married would we?”
“I don’t know,” I said, “It was beginning to seem like not the best idea.”
“I think I know why,” he said. “It was like we already were married – we’d gone too far.” What does Mike mean by saying that? What went wrong or changed in Carrie’s and Mike’s relationship? Did Carrie or Mike change, or did their circumstances change, or both?
16. Envision an inverted version of the book written from Mike’s point of view in which Carrie had the accident. How might their lives have played out differently? What does this exercise reveal about their relationship and Carrie’s character?
If you liked The Dive From Clausen’s Pier, try…
If you could change the course of your life or even the fate of the world – would you? This is the dilemma the main character in Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life faces as she is born and reborn throughout her life. This darkly humorous, alternate history grabs you from the beginning and every beginning after.
American readers can now experience for themselves why the rest of the globe is glad to know A Man Called Ove. He isn’t an easy person to love, with his insistence on resident association rules and his unswerving conviction that the only car worth driving is a Saab. As his new neighbors discover, there is more to Ove than his gruff exterior reveals. Actor George Newbern reads the English translation of Fredrik Backman’s debut, and he does so with both bemusement and sympathy for the crusty main character who thinks he’s had enough of this world. Fans of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry will especially enjoy the clever mix of characters and the comic but heart-tugging impact one person can have on a community.
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: Fiction Books
New: Nonfiction Books
At this point society knows that if you are in a secluded cabin cut off from civilization you don’t read mysterious Latin books found in a basement out loud, and you absolutely never split the group up. In Cabin in the Woods, five college students break these rules and more as they spend a weekend away at a cabin and fall into every horror movie stereotype there is. What starts off as a funny yet clichéd film quickly turns into a mind-blowing experience as writers Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard toy with viewers’ expectations. Just when you think the film is ending, you learn it’s only beginning. Hilarious, yet still with scare factors, Cabin in the Woods is for horror movie lovers and horror movie hesitators alike.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is the ultimate high stakes adventure in the ultimate virtual world. When the creator of that world dies, his vast estate is willed to the first to complete his challenges. Coalitions form, corporations create armies and a few, like teenage Parzival, go solo. You don’t have to know or like gaming to enjoy this classic underdog hero story with a bonus level of 80s references.
Did you know that George Washington died after more than half the blood in his body was drained during treatment for cold and fever? Or that the vampire has appeared in more movies than any other fictional character? From ancient history to modern science, blood continues to fascinate us, and author H.P. Newquist cuts beneath the skin’s surface to explain why. The Book of Blood: From Legends and Leeches to Vampires and Veins is a fully illustrated work that is appropriate for students but just as informative for adults. Whether you are more interested in the science, the folklore, the history, or the many expressions that refer to blood, you’ll discover facts to keep those juices flowing.