Check It Out Category: Fiction

Staff Pick: The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

Jenny from Fiction/AV/Teen suggests The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

The Hopefuls book coverBeth’s husband Matt accepts a job with President Barack Obama’s staff, relocating the couple from Wisconsin to Washington D.C. While this head-first plunge into politics has ignited a new dream and passion for Matt, Beth is left adrift and skeptical of this move. She has no job ambition, no friends, and despises the political scene. Plus, now they live close to her in-laws who she does not get along with. However, there is hope as Matt and Beth get close to another White House staffer, Jimmy Dillon, and his wife Ashleigh. The couples hit it off and become inseparable. But as Jimmy progressively moves up in his career, their friendship must start weathering new tensions of jealousy, competitiveness, and resentment.

If you have in-laws you’re less than happy about, if you have interest in the social side of politics, if the tension of compromising to pursue dreams in relationships draws you, and/or you just want to read a solid contemporary piece of fiction where the characters are very much human with all of their error and grace, The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close is for you! Try it in audio! The audiobook, narrated by Jorjeana Marie, makes for an incredible reading experience.

For more books of new beginnings and the drama of political social life, try…

Eighteen Acres book coverEighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace
Three women–White House chief of staff Melanie Kingston, White House correspondent Dale Smith, and president Charlotte Kramer–struggle through a year filled with lies, tragedies, and difficult decisions.
Trudy Hopedale book coverTrudy Hopedale by Jeffrey Frank
The follies and foibles of the nation’s capital are seen from the perspective of quintessential Washington hostess Trudy Hopedale and her social-climbing friend, Donald Frizzâe, during the summer and fall of 2000.

 

Piece of Mind book coverPiece of Mind by Michelle Adelman
Unable to relate to people or hold a job after suffering a head injury in early childhood, talented artist Lucy is forced out of her protective Jewish home and into a New York City studio apartment with her college-age brother, where she struggles to adapt to life without a safety net.
American Wife book coverAmerican Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
When her husband is elected president of the United States, Alice Blackwell finds her new life as first lady increasingly tumultuous as she reflects on the privileges and difficulties of her position as her private beliefs conflict with her public responsibilities.
The Senator's Wife book coverThe Senator’s Wife by Sue Miller
Two unconventional women, neighbors in adjacent New England townhouses–Meri Fowler, pregnant, newly married, and discovering the gap between reality and expectation, and Delia Naughton, wife of a notoriously unfaithful liberal senator–confront the costs and challenges of love.

 

List: Solar Eclipses in Fiction

While you wait down the days to August 21, check out a novel that counts a solar eclipse as a major plot point. Choose from classic, thriller, science fiction, general fiction, historical mystery, or a whole lot of horror. Maybe it’s the dark? 

Strength of the Sun book coverThe Strength of the Sun
Catherine Chidgey
Dolores Claiborne book cover

Dolores Claiborne
Stephen King

He Said_She Said book coverHe Said / She Said
Erin Kelly

 
 

Geralds Game book coverGerald’s Game
Stephen King

Eclipse book coverEclipse
John Banville

Nightfall book cover

Nightfall
Isaac Asimov & Robert Silverberg

Book Discussion Questions: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I'm Home book coverTitle: Tell the Wolves I’m Home
Author: Carol Rifka Brunt
Page Count: 360 pages
Genre: Coming-of-age
Tone: Moving, Atmospheric

Summary:
Her world upended by the death of a beloved artist uncle who was the only person who understood her, fourteen-year-old June is mailed a teapot by her uncle’s grieving friend, with whom June forges a poignant relationship.

 

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

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement: 2017 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1) June is sensitive, self-aware, and imaginative. How do these qualities affect her skills as a narrator? How does first-person narration in this book help you feel connected to June?

2) How do you feel about books told from the perspective of a child or teen? Does this perspective work well in Tell the Wolves I’m Home? (Is a story limited or enhanced when told from child’s p.o.v.?)

3) How do the characters’ actions reflect the attitudes toward HIV/AIDS in the mid-1980s? Has this element of fear and stigma changed with increased public knowledge?

4) This book won an ALA Alex Award in 2013, which is an award for adult books with special appeal to teens, and was given Adult Book for Teen/YA distinction from at least two major book reviews (Booklist and School Library Journal). What is it about this book that would be of interest to teens?

5) Why is Finn so special to June? How does he understand her in ways that others don’t?

6) What do you think of June’s feelings for Finn? Do you think it is unusual for a teenager to develop a strong attachment to a relative?

7) What are June’s initial motives for meeting with Toby? How does she move beyond her initial feelings of hate and distrust? As their friendship develops, how would you describe their connection?

8) As June gets to know Toby, she discovers things she hadn’t known about Finn before and questions how well she actually knew him. What do you think — Should she doubt her closeness to Finn? How much information do you believe is necessary to fully know a person?

9) Do you find it believable that Finn would hide his partner Toby from the family? Why did he do this? If this book was set in 2017, do you think this would have been different?

10) Do you think Toby was a good friend for June? Did their relationship end up being what Finn had hoped would occur after his passing?

11) How did you respond to the portrayal of June’s relationship with Greta? Do you believe one was more to blame than the other for their drifting apart? Beyond their sibling rivalry, what are their similarities and differences? What is the outlook for their relationship at the end of the book?

12) Think about the title of the book, and painting; what does the wolf symbolize for June? For Finn? And other characters?

13) What is it about the medieval era that appeals to June? What other types of escapism does she pursue? Think about the other characters – are they also in their own little world one way or another?

14) In an interview with BookTalk podcast (10/7/15), Brunt said she’s not a fan of villains being in a story. Do you believe there are any villains in Tell the Wolves I’m Home?

15) How did the 1980s references contribute to the book’s setting? (news stories, popular culture, consumer goods)

16) June writes of her self-doubt many times. She is afraid of appearing stupid and is highly aware of the limitations of her knowledge. She struggles with identifying what it is that people see in her (what she means to others). How has June changed by the end of the book? Is she a stronger person? Is she more sure of her place in the world?

17) In her interview with BookPage, Brunt said “the gift of the novel lies in the emotional connection it can provide” (vs. nonfiction). “A novel has the ability to put the reader right inside a character, to let the reader understand the way another person thinks and feels. So, that’s my mission as a novelist—to use the novel to emotionally connect with readers.” Did she succeed? Did you connect with June and perhaps with other characters too? Who did you connect with the most and why?

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

Other Resources:

Reader’s Guide for Tell the Wolves I’m Home
Author website, includes an inspiration gallery
Bookpage interview with Carol Rifka Brunt
NY Daily News interview with Carol Rifka Brunt
Carol Rifka Brunt discusses her work (video)

Readalikes:

Cruel Beautiful World book coverCruel Beautiful World
by Caroline Leavitt

The Sea of Tranquility book coverThe Sea of Tranquility
by Katja Millay

faithful book coverFaithful
by Alice Hoffman

Fiction: Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins

Picture ofNancyKathleen Collins was an African-American playwright, filmmaker, educator, and civil rights activist who died at the age of 46 in 1988. Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? is a newly published collection of short stories she wrote in the 1970s. There are breathtaking as well as quieter stories, many with a focus on race and gender that feel just as relevant today.

Fiction: Sometimes I Lie and Sometimes I Don’t by Nadja Spiegel

Picture of Summer Reading House headerThere are 5 more days until the end of Summer Reading! Every day during our countdown we will be featuring slices of library life, books, and topics designed to help you out as you work through 2017 Summer Reading at Mount Prospect. Read more about how you can join in on this celebration of reading and enter to win prizes!

sometimes i lie and sometimes i don't book cover

“It’s like that feeling in church when you accidentally drop the car keys you’ve been fidgeting away with. It feels like breathing in and trembling and waiting and waiting until someone says you can breathe out. And that’s how it should be.”

In the vein of Miranda July and Lauren Holmes, Nadja Spiegel curiously pokes at the emotional side of living in her debut collection of stories, Sometimes I Lie and Sometimes I Don’t. Most of the stories in this collection don’t have much of a plot, rather choosing to spend it’s time weaving in and out of sharing observations and exploring relationships between family, friends, lovers, and acquaintances. If you were drawn to the experimental style of Jenny Offil’s Dept. of Speculation, Spiegel’s suave ability of playing with structure and narration will be an extra treat.

Read this for summer reading!

For the DIY Designers…
This book may be counted as a book of short stories or a book under 150 pages.

For the Master Class Designers…
This may count as a book that has been translated from another language, a book of short stories or as a book highlighted on the MPPL website.

Audiobook: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

Picture of Summer Reading House headerThere are 6 more days until the end of Summer Reading! Every day during our countdown we will be featuring slices of library life, books, and topics designed to help you out as you work through 2017 Summer Reading at Mount Prospect. Read more about how you can join in on this celebration of reading and enter to win prizes!

Strange Library audiobook cover

For most of us, the prospect of being imprisoned in a library seems more dream than nightmare, but in the hands of Haruki Murakami, we might have to think twice. The Strange Library, a surreal tale full of tentative wonder and vague dread, is an experience that lasts only a single hour. Narrator Kirby Heyborne plays the odd characters with just the right touch of near-caricature appropriate for this fable, which adds to the distorted fun house experience. This light introduction into Japanese magical realism may be the right portion to tempt fans of the series Twin Peaks.

Read this for Summer Reading!

For the DIY Designers…
This book may count as a favorite or new-to-you genre (fantastical suspense), a book with a person of color as author, or a book under 150 pages.

For the Master Class Designers…
This may count as a book translated from another language, one by a person of color as author, or a book highlighted on the MPPL website.

Fiction: Q & A by Vikas Swarup

Picture of Summer Reading House headerThere are 7 more days until the end of Summer Reading! Every day during our countdown we will be featuring slices of library life, books, and topics designed to help you out as you work through 2017 Summer Reading at Mount Prospect. Read more about how you can join in on this celebration of reading and enter to win prizes!

Q & A book coverRam Mohammad Thomas has just won India’s hit television show Who Will Win a Billion?, by correctly answering a series of twelve questions. However, because he is a poor uneducated waiter that grew up as an orphan, no one believes he won honestly. As a result he is sent to jail and Ram is left to make his case with his lawyer by sharing the series of events that led him to the knowledge of the answer for each question. While at times a little dark, Q & A by Vikas Swarup offers a mix of comedy, drama, and romance as Ram offers up the adventurous story of his life. Make sure to watch the movie it inspired, Slumdog Millionaire, to compare and contrast how this rags-to-riches story differs from the book to the screen.

Read this for Summer Reading!

For the DIY Designers…
This book may be counted as a book made into a movie or a book with a person of color as author.

For the Master Class Designers…
This may count as a book with a person of color as author or as a book highlighted on the MPPL website.

Fiction: The Goodbye Year by Kaira Rouda

Picture of Summer Reading House headerThere are 9 more days until the end of Summer Reading! Every day during our countdown we will be featuring slices of library life, books, and topics designed to help you out as you work through 2017 Summer Reading at Mount Prospect. Read more about how you can join in on this celebration of reading and enter to win prizes!

The Goodbye Year book coverThe senior year of high school can be exhilarating, stressful and even a bit intimidating as teenagers realize they are embarking on their last year of life within the confines and safety of their parents’ homes. But for parents their child’s senior year of high school can open up for them feelings of sadness and loss. And couples must also adjust to a new life together, without the energy and activities of children. These anxieties about the unknown paths ahead of them are the basis of Kaira Rouda’s The Goodbye Year. This is the story of families in the process of deciding how their futures will unfold while realizing that saying goodbye might be the best way to begin anew, as the reality of college looms large before them.

Read this for Summer Reading!

For the DIY Designers…
This book may count as a favorite genre, or a book from one of our displays.

For the Master Class Designers…
This may count as a book highlighted on the MPPL website.

Fiction: The Switch by Elmore Leonard

Picture of Summer Reading House headerThere are 10 more days until the end of Summer Reading! Every day during our countdown we will be featuring slices of library life, books, and topics designed to help you out as you work through 2017 Summer Reading at Mount Prospect. Read more about how you can join in on this celebration of reading and enter to win prizes!

Switch book cover

Meet Ordell and Louis, two small-time crooks in search of a get-rich-quick scheme. Everything they dream seems within reach when they kidnap a millionaire’s wife and hold her for ransom. It all goes without a hitch…until the husband doesn’t want her back.

A light caper novel with a gift for flavorful dialogue and for the details of Detroit, The Switch exemplifies author Elmore Leonard’s hard-boiled leanings and dry humor. The mismatched trio of abductors and victim is great fun, and wife Mickey turns out to be the real draw. The fun can continue for book-to-movie buffs; it was adapted as the 2014 release Life of Crime.

Read this for Summer Reading!

For the DIY Designers…
This book may count as a favorite or new-to-you genre (crime fiction), a book with a big city setting, or as one that was made into a movie.

For the Master Class Designers…
This may count as a (darkly) humorous book, one with a big city setting, or as a book highlighted on the MPPL website.

Fiction: The Fireman by Joe Hill

Picture of Summer Reading House headerThere are 11 more days until the end of Summer Reading! Every day during our countdown we will be featuring slices of library life, books, and topics designed to help you out as you work through 2017 Summer Reading at Mount Prospect. Read more about how you can join in on this celebration of reading and enter to win prizes!

The fireman book coverWhile it might be tough to get this consuming book done in only 11 days, if you have a long commute or are up for the challenge try the latest Joe Hill book, The Fireman. An infection has started to overwhelm the human population and people are starting to burst into flames. The exact cause, while guessed at, is not known for sure. No one appears to be truly safe in this world, including Harper Willowes, who we learn pretty early on is pregnant.  Read by Kate Mulgrew, who is known for her role as Red on Orange is the New Black, the audiobook is particularly absorbing.

Read this for Summer Reading!

For the DIY Designers…
This horror book may be counted as a book from your favorite genre or one you have tried before.

For the Master Class Designers…
This may count as a book highlighted on our MPPL website.