“The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving” by Jonathan Evison
Ben is 39. He has been a stay-at-home dad. His two children died in a tragic accident and he and his wife are no longer together. With a gap in his employment history, during the technological revolution, he is not very employable.
Ben takes a 28-hour night course, “The Fundamentals of Caregiving,” at the Abundant Life Foursquare Church in Bremerton. He becomes the caretaker to a teenager, Trev, who has muscular dystrophy.
An activity they do together is the mapping of bizarre highway attractions in the U.S. They decide to take a cross-country road trip to visit Trev’s estranged father. On the way they plan to stop by some of these roadside attractions. During their travels they pick up Dot, a runaway, and Peaches, a pregnant farm girl. There is also a mysterious man following them. This is an entertaining novel of unlikely heroes traveling through America told with warmth and humor.
“Flight Behavior” by Barbara Kingsolver
Dellarobia Turnbow is a farm wife with two children living in rural Tennessee on a failing farm. Married young this is not the life she envisioned for herself. She becomes infatuated with a younger man and on her way to meet him, she discovers in her in-laws’ forest millions of monarch butterflies glowing like a “lake of fire.”
This is labeled a miracle and becomes a huge tourist attraction, which is a small money-maker for the Turnbow family. A scientific team is brought in and it is discovered that these butterflies have migrated to this forest due to pollution in Mexico where they normally spend the winter. They are in danger of extinction due to the extreme Tennessee winter weather. Dellarobia works with the scientists to try to save the butterflies. Adding to the problem, the Turnbows are planning to sell their forest property to loggers. This is another passionate novel from Kingsolver this time dealing with global warning.
“The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe
Mary Ann Schwalbe was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in 2007. She was 73 years old. Will and his mother have always shared the love of books. They decided to start a two-person, mother-and-son book club. They discussed books during her chemotherapy sessions and waiting for doctor appointments. This memoir is about the slow process of dying but also a celebration of life, the relationship of a mother and son and their love of reading.
“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
Nick and Amy are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. Amy disappears from her home and it is assumed that she has been murdered. They have recently moved from New York to Nick’s hometown of North Carthage, Mo., where he is loved by all. This soon changes when he is under suspicion of murdering his wife. Through Nick’s narrative and Amy’s diary the reader soon learns that this is a marriage that certainly has gone wrong. This psychological mystery novel is full of many surprises.
“The Lifeboat” by Charlotte Rogan
Grace Winter is a widow on trial for her life. In 1914, the newlyweds Henry and Grace are on an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic, when there is a mysterious explosion. Henry makes sure that his wife gets into a lifeboat, which is overcrowded. This novel deals with the problems people face with the elements and each other. It shows how easily people can turn on one another when their life is at risk. Grace is the narrator and she reveals some surprising things about her past. This is a story of survival.
“The Chaperone” by Laura Moriarty
It is the summer of 1922. Cora Carlisle is a married, 33-year-old and an empty-nester. She lives in Wichita. She needs something to occupy her time. A neighbor’s beautiful, talented 15-year-old daughter is going to New York to take classes at the Denishawn School of Dancing. She needs a chaperone and Cora is selected for the job. Cora has a second agenda for traveling to New York. As an infant she was left at the New York Home for Friendless Girls. Cora was adopted and had loving parents, but now as an adult she would like to find her birth mother. The young girl she is chaperoning is Louise Brooks, who becomes a silent screen star. Once in New York, Louise is hard to handle and makes mistakes but she does have a career in silent movies. Cora’s trip to New York changes her life in many ways. She meets a man who helps her find information about her birth mother and becomes a good friend. This novel is more about Cora than Louise. Cora gets involved in women’s rights, birth control and racial equality. In the 80’s, Cora and Louise meet up once more.
“Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Steadman
Tom Sherbourne is the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, an isolated island in Australia. The supply boat comes once a season. Tom and his wife Isabel are the only people on the island. Isabel would love to have a baby. After two miscarriages and one stillbirth, Isabel hears a baby crying. A boat has washed ashore. In the boat is a dead man and a baby. Against Tom’s better judgement, Isabel talks him into burying the man and keeping the baby as their own. Since she had been pregnant the last time the supply boat came it would be easy to deceive the men who bring the supplies. Every two years, if they are lucky, they are granted time off the island. When the baby is two years old they return to the mainland and discover the pain they have caused others In turn this becomes their pain. This is a beautiful novel that will at times break your heart.
“Maya’s Notebook” by Isabel Allende
Maya Vidal a 19-year-old American living in exile on Chiloe, a remote island off the coast of Chile. She has been sent to the home of her Chilean grandmother’s friend, Manual. Maya was raised by her grandparents in Berkeley. When her Popo died, she fell apart and started using drugs and alcohol and turned to crime. After escaping from rehab in Oregon, she ends up in Las Vegas where she gets involved with a drug dealer named Brandon. Brandon is involved in counterfeit money and is killed. Now his killers, a corrupt cop and the FBI are all looking for Maya. Maya gets in touch with her grandmother Nini and is sent to the island for protection. Maya is very unhappy but eventually finds people who accept her for who she is and love her. She also discovers surprising secrets from her Nini’s past.
Paula Walters is the adult outreach librarian for North Central Regional Library. She is the book group coordinator. NCRL has over 300 book groups, 91 of these are in Wenatchee. NCRL has a book group collection of over 1000 titles. If you would like to start a book club, contact Walters at 663 1117 ext. 144.