Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout

  1. Amy and Isabelle's conflict is presented within the context of small town life. How do the events in the lives of the women at the mill--like the break-up of Dottie Brown's marriage--and the revelations about Dr. Burrow's affair with Peg Dunlap and the secret relationship between the high school principal and the Spanish teacher, enhance the book?
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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

"Last Night at the Lobster" by Stewart O'Nan

What does "Last Night at the Lobster" say about the way businesses operate today when a man as hardworking and conscientious as Manny is treated as if he were negligible?

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" by Gabrielle Zevin

The author chooses to begin each chapter with a description of a short story. Discuss some of the ways the stories relate to the chapters with which they are paired. Is A.J. creating a canon for Maya? How does the book itself function as a kind of canon? If these are A.J.’s favorites, what do they say about A.J. as a reader and as a man? 

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

"One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd" by Jim Fergus

Were any of May Dodd's actions unsympathetic? Would you find it difficult to leave your children behind in order to escape a horrendous situation?

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"The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien

In the title story of Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried", soldiers carry things both tangible and intangible. Which were heavier? Which items spoke most powerfully to you? What do you carry around with you every day, materially and emotionally? What do soldiers carry in war today, and what would you most want to carry in war?


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"Minding Frankie" by Maeve Binchy

There are a number of recent retirees, voluntary and otherwise, who become an important part of Frankie’s life. What kind of roles do her grandparents, Josie and Charles, take on? What about Dr. Hat and Muttie? More generally, what do the very young and the very mature have to offer each other? Which generation do you think needs the other more?

For more information about Maeve Binchy, check out:


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Mystic River" by Dennis Lehane

Jimmy has a recurring dream where Ray Harris tells him, "You can't outrun a train." (page 368) 

What Does Ray mean by that?

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Friday, July 21, 2017

"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult

My Sister's Keeper explores the moral, practical and emotional complications of putting one human being in pain or in danger for the well being of another. Discuss the different kinds of ethical problems that Anna, as the "designer baby," presents in this story? Did your view change as the story progressed? Why or why not? Has this novel changed any of your opinions about other conflicts in bioethics like stem cell research or genetically manipulated offspring?

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"You Know When the Men Are Gone" by Siobhan Fallon

Many of the stories in this book are about the relationships between men and women.  How would these stories change if the protagonists were flipped? If, say, "Inside the Break" was told from Manny's point of view instead of Kailani's? Or if "Leave" followed Trish instead of Nick?

For more information about the author, Siobhan Fallon, check out:


For information about her first novel "Confusion of Languages" (release date: June 27, 2017), check out:


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Defending Jacob" by William Landay

How much of a factor did Jacob's age play into your sympathies for him or lack thereof? If Jacob were 17, would you view him differently? What about if he was nine?

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