May 21, 2015

January (yes, January) - Landline

Why, yes, I did forget to write up our discussion of Rainbow Rowell's Landline in January. You'd think that would mean I couldn't remember the discussion by now (in the same way that I can't remember what I wore to work yesterday so that I could avoid wearing it again tomorrow), but, despite the fact that no one loved the book, we had a really good discussion about it and, even though I can't remember who said what any more, I definitely remember the highlights.

When I say no one really loved this book, what I mean is that many of us really didn't even like it a little bit. The magical phone was only part of the problem. The other major problem was Georgie. Almost no one liked her.

Opinions about Neal were, on the other hand, widely divided. Many of us felt sorry for him. But several of us felt that he was in the situation he found himself because he had allowed himself to be there, because he had never done anything to make his own way. That divide of opinions had us talking over each other trying to make our point.

It was pretty unanimously decided that Rowell may have tried to add too much into the story with the storyline about Georgie's sister, who turned out to be gay. There really appeared to be no need for that storyline, it didn't contribute to the over arcing story in any way we could see other than to show another kind of love.

Some were confused about what had even happened in the book, which is, frankly, a pretty good accomplishment for Rowell in a book that is otherwise not terribly complicated. Lisa S compared it to a Mobius strip - the story line moving through time seamlessly. Several had a problem with the ending of the book, feeling it just did not feel true to the rest of the book.

Lisa S had several passages marked for the wonderful insights into parenting and marriage and we did all agree that Rowell had some real gems in the book and that, as in Eleanor and Park, Rowell's dialogue was terrific. Unfortunately, the rest of the book just didn't live up to Eleanor and Park which was a big hit with the Bookworms.

May - Calling Me Home

The blogging world made us do it. We read Julie Kibler's Calling Me Home entirely based on recommendations and praise for this one from book bloggers. So many of them said they cried. Most of them loved it. The Bookworms not so much.

Calling Me Home actually did make a good choice for a book club selection - there were a lot of things to talk about including the structure of the book and the writing in addition to the themes Kibler presented. While there were those that really enjoyed the book (and did cry) there were others that had major issues with it. Diana, in particular, couldn't get past how derivative of The Scarlet Letter it was.

By and large, we felt that the story was imbalanced, with Isabel's story and her character much more interesting. Lisa S suggested that the story would have been more interesting if the two different points of view had been Robert's and Isabel's and Ann suggested Nell's point of view instead of Dorrie's. Diana felt that Dorrie was just not interesting and that her love story felt flat, with Teague just too good to be true. We agreed that her storyline would have been more interesting if the focus had been on her relationship with her customers; Kibler even talks about Dorrie being something of an amateur psychologist for the ladies who come to her. In fact, we thought there might be a separate book there.

Lisa S felt that the dual narrative with one storyline set in the past and one set in the present has gotten old and might often be used by authors who can't figure out a better way to work into the story they want to tell. We understand why Kibler chose the two time periods as she worked to explore the different attitudes toward unmarried pregnancy and race relations; most of us just didn't feel like it was the best choice.

Still - most of us (except maybe Linda!) found something to like about the book and Lisa W said it was nice to read something that wasn't as heavy after the past two months.