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Women’s Morning Book Club

Leader: Donna Olendorf

Email: dolendor@gmail.com

Phone: 586-781-3260

The morning group meets on the first Tuesday of the month in the lower level of Horizon Books at 10:30am. Lunch will follow. For questions, contact Donna.

Month Title Moderator
October 2017 The Glass Castle Barb Bedbury
November 2017 Dinner with Edward Carole Wasserman
December 2017 Geography of Bliss Lynne van Ness
January 2018 The Chalk Artist Donna Olendorf
February 2018 Midnight Plan of theRepo Man Kathy Flegel
March 2018 Beer Money Jeanie Hoholik
April 2018 Did You Ever Have aFamily? Jeanie Hoholik
May 2018 Wild Swans Lynn Jacobson
June 2018 Born a Crime Laurie Grant


Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss, by Frances Stroh. Submitted by Jeanie

Hoholik. Harper, 2016 (314 pp)

Frances Stroh’s earliest memories are ones of enormous privilege: shopping trips to London and New York, lunches served by black-tied waiters at the Regency Hotel, and a house filled with precious antiques that she was forbidden to touch. Established in Detroit in 1850, the Stroh Brewing Company had become by 1984 the third-largest brewing empire in America and a brand emblematic of the American dream itself; while Stroh was coming of age, the family fortune was estimated to be worth $700 million.
But behind the beautiful facade lay a crumbling foundation. Detroit’s economy collapsed with the retreat of the automotive industry to the suburbs and abroad, and, likewise, the Strohs found their wealth and legacy disappearing. As their fortune dissolved in little over a decade, the family was torn apart internally by divorce and one member’s drug bust, disagreements over the management of the business, and disputes over the remaining money they possessed. Even as they turned against one another, looking for a scapegoat on whom to blame the unraveling of their family, they could not anticipate that far greater tragedy was in store. Featuring beautiful, evocative photographs throughout, Stroh’s memoir is elegantly spare in structure and
mercilessly clear-eyed in its self-appraisal—at once a universally relatable family drama and an unforgettable
American story.
Kindle, paperback, hardcover.

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah, submitted by Kathy Flegel, Spiegel & Grau, 2016 (300 pp)

This is a memoir of comedian Trevor Noah’s (host of the Daily Show) childhood in South Africa during
apartheid. His mother was black and his father white so it was illegal for them to marry, or even live together. He was raised mostly by his very strict and religious mother, who guided him safely to adulthood despite his challenging behavior (like accidentally burning down a white person’s house). His drive to succeed is evident even as a child. This book contains lots of discussion points for our book club.
Available in paperback and kindle.

The Chalk Artist, by Allegra Goodman, submitted by Donna Olendorf

Dial Press, 2017 (335 pp)

Collin James is young, creative, and unhappy. A college dropout, he waits tables and spends his free time beautifying the streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his medium of choice: chalk. Collin’s art captivates passersby with its vibrant colors and intricate lines–until the moment he wipes it all away. Nothing in Collin’s life is meant to last. Then he meets Nina. . . . The daughter of a tech mogul who is revolutionizing virtual reality, Nina Lazare is trying to give back as a high school teacher–but her students won’t listen to her. When Collin enters her world, he inspires her to think bigger. Nina wants to return the favor–even if it means losing him. Against this poignant backdrop, Allegra Goodman paints a tableau of students, neighbors, and
colleagues: Diana, a teenage girl trying to make herself invisible; her twin brother, Aidan, who’s addicted to the games produced by Nina’s father; and Daphne, a viral-marketing trickster who unites them all, for better or worse.
Available in paperback.

Did You Ever Have a Family?, by Bill Clegg. Submitted by Jeanie Hoholik. Scout

Press, 2015 (293 pp)

This novel looks at the aftereffects of a tragedy, skillfully employing alternating chapters told by a handful of characters. The night before her daughter’s wedding, June Reid loses her daughter, her daughter’s fiancé, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend in a house fire. It is a nearly unimaginable event, one that sends June running cross-country from her small community in Connecticut to settle in the even smaller community of Moclips, Washington. Sadness trails June, but so does a web of support that forms between members of the community she left behind, as well as the one that she has settled in. What really happened that night in Connecticut? Eventually, we find out. More importantly, we find out the meaning of the title. It is both a lament and a celebration.
Kindle, paperback, hardcover.

Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent. Submitted by Carole Wasserman. Algonquin

Books, 2016 (215 pp)

The story of Isabel and Edward and their unexpected friendship. Both are at a crossroad in their lives when
93 year-old Edward and Isabel meet weekly for dinner. Available in paperback.

The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner. Submitted by Lynne van Ness. Hachette

Books, 2008. (331 pp). Non-fiction.

A curmudgeon goes looking for a place where he will be happy. Weiner is a writer with NPR, and he has lived in many places. For this book,he deliberately visited 10 countries considered by most to be among the world’s happiest countries. I think he may have gotten too happy at some point, and decided to visit Moldova, generally considered to be one of the world’s most miserable countries. Fortunately, Weiner was able to part from Moldova without lasting damage, and resume his search for happy places. It’s fortunate for us, too. He is a really good writer, and describes himself and others with grace and humor.. I was sorry the book ended after 331 pages. I thought he should go back to Iceland – the place he seemed to enjoy the most. Would you believe that he settled in the U.S.? Maybe there is “no place like home”! (A word of caution, my copy, which goes back to the Library today, is from Southfield, MI. Our library doesn’t have it. Available on Amazon for around $8., though)

The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls, submitted by Barb Bedbury. Scribner, 2006 (288 pp)

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at
once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.
The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered. (From the back cover dustjacket)
Available in paperback.

The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man, by W. Bruce Cameron, submitted by Kathy

Flegel. Forge Books, 2014 (400 pp)

Ruddy McCann makes his living repossessing cars in Kalkaska. He was headed for the NFL but instead was imprisoned for vehicular homicide after a tragic accident. In this book Ruddy solves a local murder with the help of the murder victim’s voice (Alan) which suddenly starts talking one day in his head. To complicate matters, Ruddy falls in love with the Alan’s daughter. With lovable characters and lots of local action, this is a fun quick read. Written by the author of A Dog’s Purpose.
Available in Kindle or paperback.

Wild Swans (Three Daughters of China), by Jung Chang. Submitted by Lynn

Jacobson. Simon and Schuster, 1991. (560 pp)

The book covers before, during and after the Cultural Revolution. Events are told which I know we were never made aware of in our country as China was so closed off from the rest of the world. The story is told by a wonderful author who was an eye witness. This is really her memoir. It covers her mother’s life and her grandmother’s life as well as her own. The intimate story’s and actual events she tells us are not only
shocking, unbelievable, fascinating but also very touching. Jung Chang is a remarkable women and we are so fortunate that she shared this story with the world. This book has been printed in thirty languages and more than 10 million copies sold. It’s one of those books that sticks with you and you are truly glad you read it.
It is long and sometimes tedious in parts with so much history and detail but all in all it is a page turner especially the second half. I would be thrilled to read it again.
Available in paperback and as an e-book.