Monthly Archives: February 2021

The Yellow House by Sarah Broom, hosted by Laura on Thursday February 19, 2021

Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America’s most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother’s struggle against a house’s entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure.

From Josee: Thanks Laura for a most insightful presentation. I thoroughly enjoyed your book and your presentation.  One thing that has stayed with me from last night is the map of the reconstruction areas/zones.  I understand the need to keep the ‘ touristic areas’ e.g., the French quarter open but as you pointed out Laura when the devastation and the need to rebuild are your impoverished and ‘fringe’ areas, it is with sadness that one again notices “the have and the have nots.”  Thanks again Laura, and all for a good evening. May we one day go on a road trip and enjoy all the goodness that New Orleans, Louisiana and the surroundings has to offer… most especially the wonderful food.

From Jill: Thank you so much Laura for such a detailed and interesting presentation! I will enjoy reading the pdf file again (attached below), so much history to absorb. A deeply sensitive memoir, and also apropos as February is Black History month. The story brought back memories of my visit and tour of New Orleans in November ’92, but of course I cannot imagine the horrors of living through a hurricane and its aftermath. Some words from the last paragraph of the document you forwarded to us, deeply resonated with me. Being a post war baby, I remember seeing hardships within my own family, more so on my maternal grandparent’s side, and their struggles to manage their family with only the very basic and simple home needs. However, it was a special place to visit, like a second home because they were there, and the familiar objects, books and pictures never changed. No updating or renovating in those days! When I put my little hand into my grandpa’s big hand and we walked together, I felt as safe, secure and loved as I ever could be. Apologies for rambling, but the story, and our conversation about families last evening brought back so many special and detailed memories. 

This is the quote from the last paragraph that I felt moved by: “Many people who have the hardest lives also possess the deepest levels of compassion and unwavering commitments to lifting others up. We must see people as they deserve to be seen and take care not to apply labels to them related only to the hardships they have endured. We must celebrate with them all the things that they have conquered despite these eternal forces”. 

From Jeanne: Thanks for choosing this book, for your research and thoughtful presentation of the history of Louisiana and the corruption, cruelty and inequity that have persisted since the first explorers claimed land for their empires. The discussion was thoughtful and thought provoking. Definitely a book that stays in the memory long after the last page is turned.

It never ceases to amaze me that the doctrines of freedom, democracy and capitalism I had been inoculated to believe were underpinning our North American wealth and privilege (privilege presented as rights) when I was growing up through school and through until somewhere in midlife were based on outright lies and completely ignored that this wealth was bought with the exploitation and abuse of people and resources that were plundered to colonize and develop the ‘new world’. 

Reading Sarah Broom’s story of The Yellow House was like peeling another layer and seeing the generational impact of slavery, discrimination and segregation. I visited Louisiana and New Orleans in 1996, and everywhere there were deep contrasts. I am glad I did not have all this information when I went or I do not think I would have enjoyed the luxury we stayed in.  This was a personal story of a family that grew up with a very different reality than mine and a real life testament to the power of love, family, courage and hope no matter the circumstances, we all have that in common. She shows that music and food, common purpose and community are powerful and create a connection that is deep and humanizing.  So much more I am thinking and will continue to … including relationship to House and home.

From Karen: Yes thanks so much Laura for suggesting the book and for taking the time to delve deep into its themes.  I read that Sarah Broom’s The Yellow House is “a tribute to the multitude of stories one small home can contain, even one bursting with loss”  I liked that quote.  And based on last night’s excellent presentation, you made it clear that her family’s story is also one of social and political injustice.  Your research reinforced the fact the Broom family’s misfortunes were not caused by a hurricane but were the result of an entrenched culture of racial injustice.  Very sad and very disturbing especially since it continues today.  

I agree with Josee that a trip to New Orleans would be enjoyable but after reading The Yellow House, maybe we should drive around the outlying areas to see what the “real” New Orleans looks like for the majority of its residents.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Club Meetings

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb hosted by Jane, January 7, 2021

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb, recounts the author’s story when she is left reeling after a breakup with the person she thought would be her “forever”. This book is a fascinating peek into psychotherapy from the perspective of a therapist who needed it herself and her clients.

From Karen: Thanks Jane for suggesting the book, and preparing a very thorough presentation.  I was always interested in the origins of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.  It was surprising to learn that word therapy began in ancient times and not with Freud in the 1800’s.  As someone said last night (Erin?) this book is very timely.  The pandemic, the political upheaval in the US, and personal challenges have upended my assumptions of expected outcomes.  It is comforting to read this book and realize struggle is the norm and positive change is possible, for those brave enough to take it on…   Thanks too for the yummy cookies.  I do miss our in person meetings where we shared good food, wine and wonderful conversation.  Hopefully this can resume sooner rather than later in 2021. 

From Bev: Another great evening. Thank you for suggesting the book Jane. I really enjoyed following the author and the clients as they peeled the onion to come to a resolution and to find contentment. Maybe contentment isn’t the word but I struggled to find another.  I have suggested this book to others. In this time of constant change, Covid-19 and political upheaval our world is unpredictable and full of stress. As Karen says it is comforting to know that struggle is the norm and that positive change is possible.

It may even allow someone to consider psychotherapy because “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone”. The cookie was delicious. Thank you Jane.

From Josee: Thank you all for a wonderful evening. Thoroughly enjoyed our discussions, and such an appropriate book for our time.  Thank you Jane on a fabulous presentation, and your selection of book.

From Laura: It was so good to see everyone on Thursday evening. Thank you all for being there with cookies and wine to share your thoughts and experiences.  Jane, as mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so thanks for a great recommendation, a delicious cookie and an informative presentation. While reading I found it reassuring to be reminded that most of us struggle with challenging life events from time to time, that there are wonderful, sensitive Therapists willing to steer us through a crisis (Erin!), and that there is no statute of limitations on inner growth for anyone.  

From Jill: My thanks too Jane!  I was thinking as I was walking this morning, how reading your book choice opened up to me my own vulnerabilities. Hearing everyone’s opinions, insights and your excellent presentation gave me a lot of food for thought.  I really enjoyed the book, especially as Lori Gottlieb wrote with candour and presented her own vulnerabilities and feelings, but also with a sense of humour which we so need at the present time.  I hope I didn’t sound too negative last night, I was just trying to sort through my own jumble of feelings, that the book therapy ( and your words) exposed me to, in a good and positive way. 

I do appreciate your friendship and can’t wait for the day when we can hug, meet and chat in person again. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Club Meetings

Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, hosted by Bev, November 19, 2020

Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes is set in a small Kentucky town in Depression era America, the novel details the lives of five women who become traveling librarians, delivering books to those less fortunate in the rural communities of Kentucky.

From Moira: Thanks Bev, for bringing the book to our attention and for the links to author interviews. It’s always interesting to hear about the origins of the story and the process from the author herself.  I enjoyed learning about the ‘ack horse librarians. As I said, the description of the landscape and the women’s’ struggles to overcome physical challenges always appeals to me. 

From Ann: Great conversation as always.  I loved how a group of women with such different views and backgrounds can find each other and make the world a better place one book at a time. It sounds like another group of ladies I know.  I am looking forward to cocktail hour.  I say just use the pitcher if you don’t have a glass that size! 

From Karen: It was interesting to read about the Pack Horse Library project.  As you said Bev, they were a very special group of ladies to take on the challenge of delivering books to such a remote region.   Looking forward to seeing what Resse Witherspoon does with the story.

From Jill: My thanks too Bev! The pack horse libraries, and what those brave, hard working women endured thanks to the idea and tenacity of Eleanor Roosevelt was a piece of history I knew nothing about.  It was an enlightening and inspiring discussion and your links which I really enjoyed, helped give me insight into the background of the book and Jo Jo Moyes herself.  I have read her series Me Before You, Still Me, and After You.  Even though her novels are light reading and mostly romantic, she does touch on human aspects, situations and feelings involved.  They leave me with the thoughts, how would I deal with and what would I feel given those circumstances. I will look forward to reading at some point, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michelle Richardson.  The Giver of Star’s novel has piqued my curiosity. 

From Laura: Thanks Bev for a very interesting book choice, as well as the very informative supplemental information. I have always looked at Eleanor Roosevelt as a role model for courage and productivity. No surprise that she was the presence behind the Packhorse Librarian project.

From Jane: Thank you Bev for picking a book about a part of history that I had not previously been aware. I loved seeing the pictures of the actual horse librarians – they must have been very interesting and strong women who made such an impact in their communities.

From Josee: Just wanted to say thank you Bev for your excellent book choice and last night book discuss.
And to all, it was wonderful seeing you, even if just via a zoom session. Looking forward to our December “get together”.  

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Club Meetings

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, hosted by Ann on October 8, 2020

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper tells the story of 10 year old Melody, incapable of controlling her body or speaking her mind because of cerebral palsy.  Told in the first person by the remarkable intelligent girl, the story is a realistic and compassionate window into the life of one considered “disabled” by the world around her.

From Karen: Thanks for last night’s discussion.  As always no matter what type of book we read, I learn so much from the group’s insights.  Your discussion on the daily challenges you face teaching in a COVID world was especially moving.  Your students are very lucky to have you Ann.  May we all remain healthy in body and spirit as we enter into fall/winter and a second COVID wave.  Thank goodness we have our books and meetings to look forward to.  Here’s to enjoying more meaningful conversations and learning new things together.

From Bev: So sorry to have joined in later last night. I agree with Karen, that we learn and grow through our discussions. Ann’s book resonated with me and my years in education, trying to advocate for including special needs kids in the classroom. Their struggles and those of the teachers and parents who work so hard to accommodate and support them is inspiring.

From Moira: Thanks everyone for another good discussion and many thanks to you Ann for bringing this book forward and providing the links to author interviews and filling in the classroom realities. I’m always amazed when such a seemingly simple book has so much depth to it when we start reviewing, analyzing, questioning etc.  It’s the beauty of our Bookclub!

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Club Meetings