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Staff Pick: Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai

Picture of LarryThe oldest son of an eccentric family wants to escape the looming responsibilities of adult life and so he climbs a guava tree and lives there hoping to find peace. It gets complicated when the townspeople start to see him as a holy man. With characters including inept bureaucrats, a spy for the atheist society, and a herd of monkeys, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai will be a delight to read.

Music: Hamilton and Other Sung-Through Broadway Musicals

Hamilton CD coverThere is no denying that Hamilton: An American Musical  is a cultural phenomenon. Tickets are sold out through July, and any skepticism about a hip-hop spotlight of founding father Alexander Hamilton appealing to mass audiences has been successfully shouted down. Why the national passion for a show most haven’t seen with their own eyes?

One factor is that it is a “sung-through” musical, with little dialogue other than the lyrics, which means that simply hearing the cast album provides a close experience of the show. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Tony Award-winning creator Lin-Manuel Miranda explained that his own lifelong love of Broadway started with listening to his parents’ collection of cast albums, and he wanted to offer a similar thrill for Hamilton. Sample for yourself via CD or Hoopla streaming, or spark a similar fandom with a different sung-through musical.

Click here for a list of sung-through musical Broadway cast recordings at MPPL. 

 

Evita cast recording CD coverEvita

 

Book Discussion Questions: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's Secret book coverTitle: The Husband’s Secret
Author: Liane Moriarty
Page Count: 396 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Tone: Moving, Witty, Character-Driven

Summary:Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive.

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

Questions composed by MPPL Staff

1. What were your thoughts when you read the Prologue about Pandora?

2. Why do You think Cecelia was afraid to open the letter? What do you think finally spurred Cecelia to open the letter?

3. You find a letter from your husband/friend/significant other that says to be opened only in the event of my death. What do you do?

4. Once Cecilia read the letter, she faces quite a dilemma. Do you agree with her decisions or is there something else she could have done?

5. After Cecilia read the letter she said she was “No Longer Cecilia Fitzpatrick, she’d ceased to exist the moment she read the letter. Why?

6. Why did John-Paul write the letter? What do you think would have happened to John-Paul if either never wrote or Cecelia never opened the letter?

7. Did you have any strong feelings about any of the characters?

8. While this story is very much about women, there were several male characters, what did you think of them. Did any of them stand out for you?

9. Cecilia said she’d married John-Paul because of the father she knew he would be. Will was a very involved dad to Liam and would go running around outside with him instead of watching a ballgame. Rachel thought of her son Rob “as a good dad. A better dad than his own father had been. That was the way these days – all men seemed to be better fathers. Do you think this is true. Does changing diapers and playing with the kids make a father “better”?

10. In this novel thematically the Berlin Wall is huge. It is mentioned repeatedly in relation to key events in all their lives. What do you think was the significance using the Berlin Wall as a focal point in the story lines?

11. The story of Cannonball Harry was really striking. This man hijacked a train and drove full speed thru the barricades with his wife and four kids lying on the floor of the train, bullets flying over their head. Cecilia said if I had been his wife, I would have said it’s not worth it; who cares if we’re stuck behind this wall? At least we’re alive. Death is too high a price for freedom. What did you think of this story?

12. There was another thread running the story – The Biggest Loser.  Do you think using that show with that title had any significance? Who was the “Biggest Loser”?

13. Grief and guilt are major themes in the novel. What do you think determines how guilty one feels? Is it the situation, or is it determined by who you are?

14. What did you think of the Will/Tess/Felicity Triangle?

15. Tess said of Will and Felicity, “they must have kissed. And that was worse than if they slept together.” What are your thoughts?

16. What did you think of Tess’s assessment that the only way to save her marriage was to let Will and Felicity have an affair?

17.Do you think Felicity and Will were actually in love or was it just a crush?

18. Tess read that there is no such thing as a good divorce for children. What are your thoughts?

19. What did you think about Tess’s “relationship” with Connor Whitby? Do you excuse the way she acted during that week because of the uncertainty in her marriage?

20. As it turns out Tess was technically unfaithful while Will and Felicity never consummated their relationship. What are your thoughts. Who is the “guilty party” in this scenario? Who was the Father of Tess’s baby?

21. What did you think about Rachel?

22. Rachel did not want Lauren and Rob to take her grandson away. She obviously adored him. What did you think of Rachel’s relationship with her own son?
23. What were Rachel’s feelings toward her daughter-in-law, Lauren? What do you think Laurens feelings are towards her mother-in-law?

24. Rachel hit Polly with her car. Obviously she is to blame for this. Do you think anyone else has a share in the blame?

25. Do you remember the story of Little Spiderman being hit by a car in the beginning of the novel? Cecilia then witness’s her daughter getting hit by a car and her worst fear comes true. Do you think that by keeping the secret Cecilia felt that she bore some of the responsibility for Polly’s accident? Do you think she should?

26. Cecilia ended up telling Rachel that it was John-Paul that killed Janie. Do you think she would have if Rachel hadn’t admitted that she was trying to kill Connor?

27. All these years Rachel wanted Connor Whitby put away yet she does not have John-Paul arrested. Why?

28. Do you think at the end of the day, Cecilia still love her husband?

29. John-Paul was a doting husband and active father who obviously loved his kids and the kids clearly loved their father. Does one act, even if it is a horrible act, define who you are? Do you believe that Jon-Paul went from a wonderful husband and father to an evil murderer after reading the letter?

30.  Was John-Paul the man the same as John-Paul the boy?

31. If he had done it, Do you think he should have gone to jail or did he pay for his mistake?

32. Were you surprised when you found out that John-Paul’s mother knew? What do you think she should have done?

33. What did you think of the ending? Do you think it restores some kind of moral balance?

34. At the end, we realize that John-Paul did not kill Janie. What did you think of that?

35. The novel opens with “to err is human; to forgive divine” For all the story lines, Is there forgiveness or is the damage done irreparable?

36. Is life meant to be or is it just right now and doing your best?

37. Is it ever OK to keep a secret?

38. Is it possible to ever completely know another person?

39. CBS optioned the movie rights for this novel. Liane Moriarty came up with her list of who should play the key roles. Who would you get to play the key roles?

Other Resources:

Lit Lovers’ Discussion Questions
Video of Liane Moriarty on The Husband’s Secret
Liane Moriarty’s dream cast for the book
Book Discussion hosting tips

Readalikes:
Pretty Baby book cover
More Like Her book cover
Sweet Salt Air book cover

 

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
More Like Her by Liza Palmer
Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky

New Book Spotlight: What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

What Was Mine book coverLucy wants a child more than anything in the world, yet she is devastatingly unable to get pregnant. So, she does the unthinkable. One moment a baby is sitting in a shopping cart and the next she is in Lucy’s arms. Lucy begins to raise the baby as her own, and it’s not until twenty years later that her secret starts to unravel. The multiple narrators propel What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross forward as characters of varying level of involvement share their perspective in this thrilling exploration of motherhood and the ramifications of a single choice.

Looking for new non-fiction titles? Head over here!

Games in Books and Movies

shall we play a game?The fantastically entertaining Press Start to Play is the newest addition to thrilling stories constructed around complex games. Try one of the spotlighted titles below, and check out the lists for others that invite you to play along. Solve the riddles, beat your opponents, and save the world!

Games in Novels:

The Player of Games book coverThe Player of Games
by Iain M. Banks

In the human-machine symbiotic society called The Culture, there have been many great game players, but Gurgeh is a master of every board, computer, and strategy. He travels to the Empire of Azad to try its game, one so complex and like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor.

The Glass Bead Game book coverThe Glass Bead Game
by Herman Hesse

Since childhood, Joseph Knecht has been consumed with mastering the Glass Bead Game, which requires a synthesis of aesthetics and scientific arts, such as mathematics, music, logic, and philosophy, in order to become a Magister Ludi.

This is Not a Game book coverThis is Not a Game
by Walter Jon Williams

In a near-future world that is dominated by an alternate-reality game without boundaries, players find their real lives increasingly and violently overshadowed by the game and its escalating demands.

Ready, Player One, for more?  Click here for a list of books about all kinds of games.

Games in Movies:

The Running Man DVD coverThe Running Man

Based on the book by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King), a wrongly convicted man must try to survive a public execution gauntlet staged as a game show.

Battle Royale DVD coverBattle Royale

In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary “Battle Royale” act.

The Game DVD coverThe Game

Wealthy San Francisco financier Nicholas Van Orton gets a strange birthday present from wayward brother Conrad: a live-action game that consumes his life.

 

Not ready to concede defeat?  Click here for more movies about games.

Books: New Year? Start Fresh!


2016 is well on its way, with its new beginnings and fresh starts. Enjoy in a fresh start yourself from the comfort of your couch by reading one of the fiction books below!

Marshmallows for Breakfast book cover
Marshmallows for Breakfast
by Dorothy Koomson
Wild Designs book cover
Wild Designs
by Katie Fforde
The Summer I Dared book cover
The Summer I Dared
by Barbara Delinsky

 

The Secret of Lost Things book cover
The Secret of Lost Things
by Sheridan Hay
Indignation book cover
Indignation
by Philip Roth
The Department of Lost and Found book cover
The Department of Lost & Found
by Allison Winn Scotch

 

The Year of Pleasures book coverThe Year of Pleasures
by Elizabeth Berg
A Year on Ladybug Farm book cover
A Year on Ladybug Farm
by Donna Ball
Nothing but Trouble book cover
Nothing but Trouble
by Susan May Warren

 

Staff Pick: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Janine of Circulation suggests I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You the Sun book coverTwins Noah and Jude are inseparable…until suddenly, they aren’t. Alternating between Noah at age 13 and Jude at age 16, I’ll Give You the Sun explores the before and the after of something that completely changes both of their lives.

Noah at age 13 is falling in love with the boy next door, drowning himself in creativity and art, and letting his outgoing twin sister, Jude, take the spotlight. At 16, the tables have turned for the twins, with Noah playing the role of popular, confident jock as Jude has isolated herself not only from Noah, but from most of the world around her. What caused the once-close twins to pull away from each other, and each change so drastically over the course of 3 years? Can they ever regain the relationship that they once had?

This is a beautiful and unique book about love, loss, fate, truth, magic, and the connections we have to one another and the world around us.  Jude and Noah will work their way into your heart and stay with you long after the final page.

For similar coming-of-age titles, try…

Tell the Wolves I'm Home book cover

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

As she grieves the death of her Uncle Finn, June Elbus befriends the man who lived with him, and learns more about herself and her family than she ever thought possible.

 

 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson book cover

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

What if you met someone who had your name? See what happens when Will Grayson meets Will Grayson in Chicago, and how it turns each of their worlds upside down.

 

 

Boy Meets Boy book coverBoy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Paul’s high school is unique in many ways, but it doesn’t prevent him from having some typical teenage problems to face. Can he find a way to help his friends, help himself, and find happiness?

 

 

 

Eleanor and Park book cover

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor is the weird new girl at school, and Park does his best to stay under the radar. Bonding over comic books on the school bus, the two form a relationship neither one saw coming.

 

 

How to Save a Life book coverHow to Save A Life by Sarah Zarr

Mandy and Jill couldn’t be more different, and when they find their worlds suddenly colliding, each much stretch her comfort zone more than she imagined possible.

Books: Read Your Way Through the U.S.A.

If you’re in the market for a reading resolution this year, how about reading yourself across the United States? Entertainment Weekly compiled a list choosing one book for each state that they feel best captures the spirit of the state. See below some of the books they chose, or stop by and check out the display!

IllinoisMaud Martha book coverMaud Martha
by Gwendolyn Brooks
IowaShoeless Joe book coverShoeless Joe
by W.P. Kinsella
OregonGeek love book coverGeek Love
by Katherine Dunn

 

New YorkDrown book cover Drown
by Junot Diaz
CaliforniaPlay It As It Lays book cover Play It As It Lays
by Joan Didion
Utah
The Monkey Wrench Game book cover The Monkey Wrench Gang
by Edward Abbey

 

Louisiana
The Awakening book cover The Awakening
by Kate Chopin
DelawareThe Book of Unknown Americans book cover The Book of Unknown Americans
by Cristina Henriquez
Hawaii
The Descendants book coverThe Descendants
by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Music: Party Mixes

Hosting a party, but don’t want to make a mix yourself? Check an album out from the Library! Below is only a sample of what is available. If you can’t make a trip out yet still need some dance music, use Hoopla to check out an album instantly with your Library card.