Book Discussion KitsBook Discussion Kit Home
Sno-Isle Libraries and the Sno-Isle Foundation are proud to offer book discussion kits.
Each kit includes 10 copies of a single title. Resources for book discussions may be found at publishers' websites, bound into some editions of the book, or at www.bookreporter.com or www.readinggroupguides.com (Download a printer friendly list of book kits.)
Alice Network, TheQuinn, Kate
"It's 1947 and American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a fervent belief that her missing French cousin Rose might still be alive somewhere. In 1915, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance to serve when she's recruited to work as a spy for the English. Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launching them both on a mission to find the truth ... no matter where it leads"-- Provided by publisher.
GoodReads Award Nominee
And the Mountains EchoedHosseini, Khaled
An unforgettable novel about finding a lost piece of yourself in someone else. Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns , has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe-from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos-the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.
In the tradition of The Lost City of Z and Skeletons in the Zahara, Astoria is the thrilling, true-adventure tale of the 1810 Astor Expedition, an epic, now forgotten, three-year journey to forge an American empire on the Pacific Coast. Peter Stark offers a harrowing saga in which a band of explorers battled nature, starvation, and madness to establish the first American settlement in the Pacific Northwest and opened up what would become the Oregon trail, permanently altering the nation's landscape and its global standing. Six years after Lewis and Clark's began their journey to the Pacific Northwest, two of the Eastern establishment's leading figures, John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson, turned their sights to founding a colony akin to Jamestown on the West Coast and transforming the nation into a Pacific trading power. Author and correspondent for Outside magazine Peter Stark recreates this pivotal moment in American history for the first time for modern readers, drawing on original source material to tell the amazing true story of the Astor Expedition. Unfolding over the course of three years, from 1810 to 1813, Astoria is a tale of high adventure and incredible hardship in the wilderness and at sea. Of the more than one hundred-forty members of the two advance parties that reached the West Coast--one crossing the Rockies, the other rounding Cape Horn--nearly half perished by violence. Others went mad. Within one year, the expedition successfully established Fort Astoria, a trading post on the Columbia River. Though the colony would be short-lived, it opened provincial American eyes to the potential of the Western coast and its founders helped blaze the Oregon Trail.
Boys in the Bunkhouse, The: Servitude and Salvation in the HeartlandBarry, Dan
In this haunting modern Dickensian story that is a literary tour de force, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Dan Barry chronicles a shameful case of exploitation and abuse in America’s heartland, involving a group of developmentally disabled men and the advocates who helped them find justice and reclaim their lives. A luminous work told with compassion and compelling detail, The Boys in the Bunkhouse is inspired storytelling and a clarion call for vigilance—an American tale that holds lasting reverberations for all of us. -From the publisher
ALA Notable Books
Booklist Editors' Choice
Buddha in the Attic, TheOtsuka, Julie
Presents the stories of six Japanese mail-order brides whose new lives in early twentieth-century San Francisco are marked by backbreaking migrant work, cultural struggles, children who reject their heritage, and the prospect of wartime internment.
"The acclaimed, bestselling author--winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize--tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families' lives. Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them. Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together" -Provided by publisher.
Australian Book Industry Awards: International Book of the Year
New York Times Notable Book
Fortunes, TheDavies, Peter Ho
The Fortunes reimagines the traditional multigenerational novel through the lens of immigrant experience. The family institution is revered in Chinese culture, but the historical reality of Chinese Americans has seen family bonds denied, fragmented, or imperiled. The Fortunes uses this history from the bachelor society of the gold rush era to laws against interracial marriage to the recent wave of adopted baby girls to create a portrait of a community whose line of descent is broken, yet which has tenaciously persisted, as much through love as by blood. Through four lives a railroad baron's valet who unwittingly ignites an explosion in Chinese labor, Hollywood's first Chinese movie star, a victim of a hate crime that mobilizes Asian Americans, and a biracial writer visiting China for an adoption--this novel captures and capsizes over a century of our history. These stories, three of which are inspired by real historical characters, examines the process of becoming not only Chinese American, but American.
Anisfielf-Wolf Book Award
New York Times Notable
NPR Best Books
Green Road, TheEnright, Anne
From internationally acclaimed author Anne Enright comes a shattering novel set in a small town on Ireland's Atlantic coast. The Green Road is a tale of family and fracture, compassion and selfishness--a book about the gaps in the human heart and how we strive to fill them.Spanning thirty years, The Green Road tells the story of Rosaleen, matriarch of the Madigans, a family on the cusp of either coming together or falling irreparably apart. As they grow up, Rosaleen's four children leave the west of Ireland for lives they could have never imagined in Dublin, New York, and Mali, West Africa. In her early old age their difficult, wonderful mother announces that she's decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds. Her adult children come back for a last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold.A profoundly moving work about a family's desperate attempt to recover the relationships they've lost and forge the ones they never had, The Green Road is Enright's most mature, accomplished, and unforgettable novel to date.
In the Unlikely EventBlume, Judy
In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life. Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events that Blume experienced in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, she paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place--Nat King Cole singing "Unforgettable," Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, A-bomb hysteria, rumors of Communist threat. And a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.
Last List of Miss Judith Kratt, TheBobotis, Andrea
In 1929, 14-year-old Quincy Kratt is murdered. Sixty years later, his elderly sister, Miss Judith Kratt, makes a list of all the family heirlooms that have accumulated in her South Carolina Home over the decades. But, piece by piece, her list reveals a devastating family secret. As her inventory of items grows, the story unfolds - of brother Quincy and how he died, of sister Rosemarie and what she knew, of murder and secrets and coverups. In this highly-atmospheric southern thriller, all kinds of relationships are explored: between the present and the past, between members of a family; and also between white masters and Black servants.
Leaving TimePicoult, Jodi
For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice's old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother's whereabouts. Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons--only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice's case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they'll have to face even harder answers.
Life After LifeAtkinson, Kate
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula's apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can -- will she? Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original -- this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.
Lilac GirlsKelly, Martha Hall
Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals the power of unsung women to change history in their quest for love, freedom, and second chances.
The lives of three women are set on a collision course with Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as two of the women strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten. -adapted from the publisher description.
Funds for this kit were generously donated by the Edmonds Lutheran Book Club. To donate funds for book kits, please contact the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation.
Lilac GirlsKelly, Martha Hall
Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals the power of unsung women to change history in their quest for love, freedom, and second chances. The lives of three women are set on a collision course with Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as two of the women strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten. -adapted from the publisher description.
May the Road Rise Up to Meet YouTroy, Peter
"An engrossing, epic American drama told from four distinct perspectives, spanning the first major wave of Irish immigration to New York through the end of the Civil War. Four unique voices; two parallel love stories; one sweeping novel rich in the history of nineteenth century America. This remarkable debut draws from the great themes of literature--famine, war, love, and family--as it introduces four unforgettable characters...Provided by publisher.
Michael Shaara Prize for Excellence in Civil War Fiction
Memory Keeper's Daughter, TheEdwards, Kim
On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy. Yet when his daughter is born, he sees immediately that she has Down's Syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split-second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. But Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the infant. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself.
The deathbed confession of a man the narrator refers to only as "my grandfather" is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and marriage and desire, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at midcentury, and, above all, of the destructive impact-- and the creative power-- of keeping secrets and telling lies. A man bears witness to his grandfather's deathbed confessions, which reveal his family's long-buried history and his involvement in a mail-order novelty company, World War II, and the space program. - From the publisher
Booklist Editors' Choice
New York Times Notable Books
Sophie Brody Medal
ALA Carnegie Medal Finalist
My Brilliant FriendFerrante, Elena
A modern masterpiece from one of Italy's most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante's inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change.
Next Year in HavanaCleeton, Chanel
Told with a somber tone and intricate plotting, this is a dramatic historical romance following two women, 60 years apart, as they each experience passion and romance in the midst of oppressive political regimes.
PachinkoLee, Min Jin
In early 1900s Korea Sunja's unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame her poor yet proud family. "Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan. So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity"-- Provided by publisher.
National Book Award Finalist
New York Times Notable
Saints for all OccasionsSullivan, J. Courtney
"Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she's shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn't sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan--a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand. After decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago." -publisher description
Generously funded in remembrance of Dixie Schamens, friend and fellow book lover, by the Edmonds Lutheran Book Club.
Salt HousesAlyan, Hala
"From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family caught between present and past, between displacement and home ... On the eve of her daughter Alia's wedding, Salma reads the girl's future in a cup of coffee dregs. She sees an unsettled life for Alia and her children; she also sees travel, and luck. While she chooses to keep her predictions to herself that day, they will all soon come to pass. Lyrical and heartbreaking, Salt Houses is a remarkable debut novel that challenges and humanizes an age-old conflict we might think we understand--one that asks us to confront that most devastating of all truths: you can't go home again"-- Provided by publisher.
GoodReads Choice Award Nominee
Some LuckSmiley, Jane
Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award From the winner of the Pulitzer Prize : a powerful, engrossing new novel--the life and times of a remarkable family over three transformative decades in America. On their farm in Denby, Iowa, Rosanna and Walter Langdon abide by time-honored values that they pass on to their five wildly different children: from Frank, the handsome, willful first born, and Joe, whose love of animals and the land sustains him, to Claire, who earns a special place in her father's heart. Each chapter in Some Luck covers a single year, beginning in 1920, as American soldiers like Walter return home from World War I, and going up through the early 1950s, with the country on the cusp of enormous social and economic change.
Started Early, Took My DogAtkinson, Kate
Tracy Waterhouse, a retired police detective leading a quiet life, makes a snap decision to relieve habitual offender Kelly Cross of a young child he's been dragging around town. Tracy soon learns her parental inexperience is actually the least of her problems, as much larger ones loom for her and her young charge. Meanwhile, detective Jackson Brodie embarks on a different sort of rescue--that of an abused dog.
Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, TheSee, Lisa
When Li-yan has a baby outside of wedlock, rather than stand by tradition, she wraps her daughter in a blanket, with a tea cake hidden in her swaddling, and abandons her in the nearest city. After mother and daughter have gone their separate ways, Li-yan slowly emerges from the security and insularity of her village to encounter modern life while Haley grows up a privileged and well-loved California girl. Despite Haley’s happy home life, she wonders about her origins; and Li-yan longs for her lost daughter. They both search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their family’s destiny for generations.
Goodreads Choice Read Nominee
Temporary peopleUnnikrishnan, Deepak
"Guest workers of the United Arab Emirates embody multiple worlds and identities and long for home in a fantastical debut work of fiction, winner of the inaugural Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing... The author's crisp, imaginative prose packs a punch, and his whimsical depiction of characters who oscillate between two lands on either side of the Arabian Sea unspools the kind of immigrant narratives that are rarely told. An enchanting, unparalleled anthem of displacement and repatriation" -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing
There ThereOrange, Tommy
With a large cast of characters, light suspense, and insightful narration, this is an enlightening and fast-paced story depicting Native American life in a modern urban setting.
Indies’ Choice Book Award
Society of American Historians Prize for Historical Fiction
New York Times Notable
Tiger's Wife, TheObreht, Téa
Remembering childhood stories her grandfather once told her, young physician Natalia becomes convinced that he spent his last days searching for "the deathless man," a vagabond who claimed to be immortal. As Natalia struggles to understand why her grandfather, a deeply rational man would go on such a farfetched journey, she stumbles across a clue that leads her to the extraordinary story of the tiger's wife.
Turner House, TheFlournoy, Angela
The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone--and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit's East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts--and shapes--their family's future. The Turner House brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It's a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home"-- Provided by publisher.
National Book Award Finalist
Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Finalist
The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Shortlist
Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, TheTinti, Hannah
"Loo is twelve when she moves back to the New England fishing village of her early youth. Her father, Hawley, finds work on the boats, while she undergoes the usual heartaches of a new kid in school. But lurking over Loo are mysteries, both of the mother who passed away, of the grandmother she's forbidden to speak to. And hurtling towards both father and daughter are the ghosts of Hawley's past. Before Loo's birth, he was a professional criminal engaged in increasingly elaborate and dangerous underworld schemes. Life on the road was harsh - Samuel Hawley took "twelve bullets" in his brutal career. The scars have healed, but there is a reckoning still to come"-- Provided by publisher.
Edgar Award Nominee
Underground Railroad, TheWhitehead, Colson
"Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. Like the protagonist of Gulliver's Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey -- hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day."--Provided by the Publisher
National Book Award
Arthur C. Clarke Award
Andrew Carnegie Medal
Oprah Book Club
Unsheltered features a dual narrative set in the same New Jersey house more than one hundred years apart. In the 1870s, science teacher Thatcher Greenwood grapples with the controversy over teaching evolution in schools. In the present day, newly laid-off magazine worker Willa Knox struggles with the recession that destroyed her job, her husband’s job, and their comfortable middle-class status. Both families are trying to survive during times of rapid change in an unstable world.
NPR Best Book