Minnesota has produced an abundance of authors in a variety of genres. We'll choose a Minnesota-authored book each month to read at leisure, then come together in an online ZOOM meeting for an evening of guided discussion and shared opinions. Beverages and snacks optional, but recommended!
Books will be available to check out from local libraries or can be purchased in hardcover, paperback or e-reader from your favorite bookstore or Amazon. A ZOOM link and instructions will be emailed to you a few days prior to the meeting.
Winter/Spring Titles are:
January - Read as a Family (age 10+): Woodsong by Gary Paulsen
Gary Paulsen, three-time Newbery Honor author, is no stranger to adventure. He has flown off the back of a dogsled and down a frozen waterfall to near disaster, and waited for a giant bear to seal his fate with one slap of a claw. He has led a team of sled dogs toward the Alaskan Mountain Range in a grueling 1,180-mile dog sled race, hallucinating from lack of sleep, but determined to finish. In the vivid details of this book, Paulsen recounts several of the remarkable experiences that shaped his life and inspired his award-winning writing.
February: Minnesota 1918: When Flu, Fire and War Ravaged the State by Curt Brown
In 1918, Minnesota and is residents were confronted with a series of devastating events that put communities to the test, forcing them to persevere through untold hardship. First, as the nation immersed itself in the global conflict later known as World War I, Minnesotans served in the war effort, both at home and "over-there," and citizens on the home front were subjected to loyalty tests and new depths of government surveillance. While too many Minnesotans were killed on the battlefields, additional soldiers were struck down by another destructive force working its way across the globe in 1918, the influenza pandemic. Then, in mid-October, fires raged across 1,500 square miles in seven counties of northeastern Minnesota, leaving thousands homeless and hundreds dead.
March: Angry Housewives Eating Bon-bons by Lorna Landvik
The women of Freesia Court are convinced that there is nothing good coffee, delectable desserts and a strong shoulder can't fix. Laughter is the glue that holds them together -- the foundation of a book group they call AHEB (Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons), an unofficial "club" that becomes much more. It becomes a lifeline. Holding on through forty eventful years, there's Faith, a lonely mother of twins who harbors a terrible secret that has condemned her to living a lie; big, beautiful Audrey, the resident queen who knows that with good posture and an attitude you can get away with anything; Merit, the shy doctor's wife with the face of an angel and the private abusive husband; Kari, a wise woman with a wonderful laugh who knows the greatest gifts appear after life's fiercest storms; and finally, Slip, a tiny spitfire of a woman who isn't afraid to look trouble straight in the eye. This stalwart group of friends depicts a special slice of American life from the 1960s to the 1990s, of stay-at-home days and new careers, of children and grandchildren, of bold beginnings and second chances, in which the power of forgiveness, understanding, and the perfectly-timed giggle fit is the CPR that mends broken hearts and shattered dreams.
April: The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang
Kao Kalia Yang was born in 1980 in a Hmong refugee camp in Thailand. Her people had fought alongside the Americans in the Vietnam War, but in the tumult that followed, they spent years without a real home. Though her grandmother was reluctant to journey even farther from her birthplace than they already had, the family convinced her that America was their best option. Landing first in California, they eventually settled in St. Paul, Minnesota. Like so many other immigrants, the adults worked long hours, sacrificing in order to give their children opportunities to succeed and reflect well on their community. But the Hmong faced unique challenges, coming from a rain forest as a little-known ethnic group that did not have a written language of its own. Yet, Yange would eventually grow up to write this memoir -- "a narrative packed with the stuff of life" (Entertainment Weekly) that would become a winner of the Minnesota Book Award, a finalist for a PEN Award, and one of the National Endowment for the Arts' Big Read selections.
May: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson's Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum, it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder. Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family, which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and a wise-beyond-his-years kid brother, he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years. Told from Frank's perspective, forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace, is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.