August’s book: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Book club keeps growing. Amongst the old guard (Kelly B, Jess, Bela, Jenna, I’m looking at you), we had one of our newbies from last month (hey Sarah) and we also welcomed another Canadian (Andrea) and our first Swiss member (hi Patricia!).

Last month’s book was The Circle by Dave Eggers, chosen by Kelly B. I think, for the first time since book club started, there was a unanimous “yes” in answer to the question “did we like the book?”. And boy, we certainly had a lot to talk about when discussing this book. In the end I gave up making notes and concentrated on joining in instead.

It was likened to a modern day Nineteen Eighty-Four (which, by the way, if you haven’t read, you really must – it’s fabulous) with themes of control, insecurity, validation, and false intimacy running throughout.

For once, we were in agreement that the main characters were relatively well-rounded. There was a long discussion about Mae and how we felt about her as a protagonist. The word “annoying” was uttered a couple of times. We believed that she was stimulated by the need to constantly be validated. She wasn’t in control of her own ideas and every step she made was a mistake which led to the tightening of the circle’s influence on her.

Annie was what Mae should have been. She never really lost her humanity and still had a connection with outside world, something which Mae gave up. Francis was a foil for Mae – someone to make Mae feel needed and wanted.

The character of Kalden was one of interest. What was the reason he did what he did? What was he running away from? Was he trapped (physically and mentally) in his own circle? Mae’s parents were seen as the sanest people in the whole book. The group found Mercer to be a little preachy – as if the author didn’t trust the audience to understand what was going on.

After the character assassination, the conversation moved to the Circle itself and there was long discussions on communications, technology, the need for affirmation, the youth of today (yes, I realise that makes us sound ancient) selfies, Catfish the TV show (another book club recommendation) and reminiscing about when crushes had to call the house and speak to our parents before they could speak to us. Those were the days.

The book this month was chosen by me and forced upon the group. If you don’t like it, I’ll…. well, I don’t know. But I’d be surprised.

August’s book is Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor and park

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she’s never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried. Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and – in Eleanor’s eyes – impossibly cool, Park’s worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by. Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose. Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor & Park is funny, sad, shocking and true – an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love.

The doodle for the next meeting can be found here.

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