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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

ABC's and PhD's: Book Club, revisited
February 17, 2010 - 8:33am

At the beginning of November I blogged about our first meeting of the SS-MD-BC (second Sunday mother-daughter book club) my daughter and her friends started. I very much appreciated your comments (my new year’s resolution is to be better about responding to blog comments). Since there was interest in hearing more about our selections, I thought I’d catch you up on the books the girls have chosen since then. I can’t tell you how much I (and the other participants) look forward to this book club each month! I enjoy touching on topics of interest to my own maturing pre-teen in discussion with her friends and their mothers.

I already mentioned that our first book was Bridge to Terabithia, the wonderful tear-jerker. My daughter suggested our second book: PaperQuake, by Katherine Reiss. My daughter raved about it. When I read it, on the other hand, I disliked the book almost from page 1, especially the drippy, weak main character, a 12-year-old girl with lots of fears and insecurities about being odd-one-out in a set of triplets. Going into our meeting that month I worried that my daughter’s feelings would be hurt when the kids (in their very honest way) expressed how much they disliked it too. My worry was completely unfounded: the girls all loved it (the adults were more diverse in their opinions). After a spirited, thoughtful conversation I found myself understanding and appreciating the book and the transformation of the character far more than I had on my own. Take home lesson for me: don’t generalize my opinions, and especially not to the younger generation (way to sound like an old fart). We also had a great discussion about an illegal act the book’s protagonist carried out in an emergency situation, and it was interesting to hear how conservative all the daughters were in their opinion that this was the wrong thing to do, and fascinating to hear them noodle out what they might do instead. And, since two of the members of our club are identical twins, we also got interesting personal insight into their experience.

Our third book was real chick-lit for tweens: “Girls Acting Catty” by Leslie Margolis. For those who don’t know, it’s the sequel to “Boys are Dogs” (ugh, these titles are really not appealing, are they?). Even this fluffy fiction sparked a dynamic exchange, about the social circles and issues involved with, as my daughter (with some drama) puts it, “becoming swept into the pre-teenage world, chock-full of crushes and Truth or Dare.” It was appealing to discuss the protagonist of this book, who, we all felt, had a grounded, reasonable manner of dealing with mean girls at school. This meeting felt supportive and positive, as we explored some fears associated with the fast approaching start of middle school.

I thoroughly enjoyed the selection for our last meeting, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Clever and complicated, this twisted mystery contained way more to talk about than we could fit into an hour-long meeting. It was fun to hear the girls figure out the intriguing characters that inhabit this novel, and to realize these characters’ strengths and weaknesses together as a group. Our conversation sidetracked to talk about family pressures, and several of the moms there opened up their experiences with bucking and succumbing to career expectations their families had of them as they grew up.

After great debate over which book to choose for our March meeting the selection was announced today: Project Mulberry, by Linda Sue Park. As always, I eagerly anticipate our next gathering, to find out what this book will open up for us. Has anyone out there read it? I’d love to hear any other books you (or your kids!) might recommend for us!


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