Defending Jacob was a page turner complete with lots of surprises. It was a thought-provoking book. A book that you will not be able to get out of your head. A book you will just have to discuss as soon as you turn that last page. This court room drama takes place in Massachusetts. Andy Barber is a well-respected assistant district attorney. He is a happily married man and has a son, Jacob. When a young boy in Jacob’s school is murdered the whole town is shaken. Who could have done such a thing? And then the unthinkable happens. Fourteen year old Jacob is accused of the crime. But…did he really do it? Defending Jacob was the perfect book club book and a must read! The Friday Morning Bookclub’s favorite book for 2012!
Second place goes to State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon. Yes it is a tie! The State of Wonder takes place in the Amazon. Marina Singh works for a pharmaceutical company. When Dr. Anders Eckman, Marina’s colleague and friend is sent to check on the progress of a researcher in Manaus and dies mysteriously, Marina sets off to find out exactly what happened to him as well as what was going on with the study which involved the development of a miracle fertility drug. An engaging mystery which takes you into the depths of the Amazon.
The Story of Beautiful Girl is exciting from page one. The novel takes place in 1968. When Lynnie, a developmentally delayed white woman and Homan, an African-American deaf man from the South turn up one raining evening at Martha’s front door, she welcomes them into her home and offers them dry clothing and food. And then she notices the new born baby! Unfortunately before she even has time to serve the meal she had prepared, there is banging on her front porch and the authorities arrive to take Lynnie and Homan back to the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded. “Hide her” is the last words Lynnie whispers in Martha’s ear as she is dragged from the house, leaving her baby behind. A beautiful, though provoking story and definitely a tear jerker!
A close third place goes to The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman. When Josef is introduced to his Grandson’s new wife’s Grandmother, he feels it right away. I know you from somewhere he tells her and she responds that he must be mistaken. And then he asks to push up her sleeve and sees the small birthmark and six numbers tattooed on her arm. “Lenka, it’s me,” he said. “Josef. Your husband”. This is a truly unforgettable book and a beautiful love story.
Fourth place is also a tie. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a wonderful mystery and Divergent by Veronica Roth, an exciting YA dystopian novel.
Thank you for voting and helping us choose our favorites. As always we welcome and appreciate hearing from you!.We hope you will continue reading with us in 2013!
The Friday Morning Bookclub read, and enjoyed, The Story of Beautiful Girl. The novel takes place in 1968 and the main characters are Lynnie, a developmentally delayed white woman of Jewish origin, Homan, an African American deaf man from the South, and Martha, a retired school teacher and widow. Lynnie and Homan met in an institution for the “feeble minded” in Pennsylvania. Lynnie was placed there at a young age by her parents who felt it would be best for the family to not have this kind of child in their lives. There is background story revolving around her parents’ decision, the continued feeling of Lynnie for her sister, and some reintegration into her sister’s life later in the book. Homan came to the institution as a result of life forces in the 60s, of being black, deaf and unable to talk. He is portrayed as a large, muscular man, capable of deep feelings and thoughts but lacking the ability to communicate as he does not know braille or American sign language, but rather a slang version he shared with his family, and later Lynnie. Homan and Lynnie fall in love.
The institution is portrayed stereotypically with mostly poor care and lack of oversight which one night was taken to extremes resulting in Lynnie’s rape and subsequent pregnancy. Lynnie keeps the pregnancy hidden and escapes one night in her 9th month with Homan, who delivers the baby. In need of a place to stay, and mindful that the institution is looking for them, Homan and Lynnie choose Martha’s door to knock on because Lynnie likes the lighthouse mailbox. Although the authorities find and retake Lynnie, Homan manages to escape. The authorities do not realize there was a baby. Thus begins the story of Martha, baby Julia , Lynnie and Homan over the next 30 ish years.
Our bookclub thought the story was well written and drew us into the characters lives. Each life was vastly affected, and greatly changed by acts of human kindness. Lynnie has a caregiver at the institution who takes special interest in her, encourages her artwork, keeps her secret and stays close with her throughout her life. The caregivers’ life is also enriched by this experience. Martha, who decides to keep the baby safe and becomes her parent receives great assistance from her past students and her life takes unexpected twists with great rewards. Homan, through his strength and caring ways, effects a wheel-chaired bound young man who later finds Homan and opens the door to sign language and Homan’s potential. We found the book to be an emotional read…maybe a tad slow at some points, and a tad unbelievable as loose ends were neatly tied, but nevertheless all of us finished the book, enjoyed it, and found many discussion points.
“Hide her” were the last two words Martha heard the girl say.
Martha knew nothing about the white girl or the young black man she was with. She had only laid eyes on them a short time earlier when they appeared on her front porch. They were soaking wet and clearly running from something. Martha couldn’t imagine why she had even let them in. There was something not quite right about them and they had a new-born baby with them. She offered them dry clothing and was planning to give them something to eat. That was before the pounding on the front door. Before the young man escaped out the window. Before she watched as the young girl was shoved in the car, as the baby slept peacefully upstairs in Martha’s attic.
And that was all within the first couple of pages! Please join us in reading The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon, the author of Riding The Bus With My Sister.
I absolutely loved this audio book. Once I started listening to it, I did not want to stop. Fortunately I was listening to it on a playaway so I could take it with me wherever I went. I listened to it in the car, I listened to it as I cooked. I went to sleep listening to it and when I woke up, after first rewinding it to the last part I remembered before drifting off to sleep, I continued listening to it. The Story of A Beautiful Girl is a beautiful, yet heart wrenching story and a wonderful audio book.
When Martha, a retired school teacher living alone on a farm in rural Pennsylvania hears a knock on her door one rainy night she can’t imagine who it could be. Cautiously she opened the door only to find a young couple, soaking wet. The woman was wrapped in several grey blankets, the man wrapped in large paper business signs. The woman was white, the man black. They look scared and it appears to her as if they were running from something. Against her better judgement, Martha invites the couple in and is surprised to see that the young women is holding a new-born baby. and that the man is deaf. Martha barely has time to find dry clothing for the couple and prepare some food for them when she hears banging on her front door. Officials from the School for the Incurable and Feeble-minded were at her door looking for the two runaways. Fortunately, when the men stormed the house, the baby was quietly sleeping upstairs and the young man manages to escape out the living room window. Before they dragged the young girl off, she manages to whisper two words in Martha’s ear “hide her”.
What will Martha do? Will she honor the wishes of Lynnie, the young mentally challenged girl? And what will happen to Lynnie once she is returned to the “special school” And Homan, or #42 as he was referred to in the institution, will they find him? How will he survive? What will become of baby Julia? Will this family ever be reunited? The Story of Beautiful Girl spans over 40 years, and alternates back and forth between Martha, Lynnie and Homan. We learn how Lynnie, born to a wealthy family and Homan end up in such a horrific place. It gives frightening insight into how the mentally handicapped were treated in years past. It is a beautiful story of love and survival, and yes I cried a tear or two (something I rarely do while reading). The audio book was beautifully read by Kate Reading whose voice brought to life the voices of these brave people.
On a scale of 1-5, I would give the audio book, The Story of Beautiful Girl 4 1/2 Omelets.