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Persuasive,
Dramatic,
Inspiring

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The Moments Between Dreams
by Judith F. Brenner

Published: 2022-05-17T00:0
Paperback : 304 pages
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A story of hope, courage, and perseverance

Carol misses red flags about Joe’s need for control before she marries him, dashing her dreams for herself and her family. Trouble escalates after their daughter Ellie is paralyzed by the polio virus and Joe returns from WWII. Carol realizes ...

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Introduction

A story of hope, courage, and perseverance

Carol misses red flags about Joe’s need for control before she marries him, dashing her dreams for herself and her family. Trouble escalates after their daughter Ellie is paralyzed by the polio virus and Joe returns from WWII. Carol realizes how brutal waking life can be, and she conceals bruises and protects her children the best she can.

The Moments Between Dreams is a captivating story of a 1940s housewife who conforms to the rulebook of society until Joe pushes her too far. His constant intimidation shrinks Carol’s confidence while she tries to boost Ellie’s. Church-going neighbors in Carol’s tight-knit Polish community are complacent, but Sam, a handsome reporter, stirs up Carol’s zest for life. Despite impossible circumstances, Carol plans a secret escape. Along a risky path, she empowers her daughter to know no limits and teaches her son to stop the cycle of violence and gender discrimination.

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

1. Driving is a major symbol of freedom throughout the story. We see that Tommy is given a car as a graduation gift, but Carol and Ellie both have to learn how to drive in secret. Discuss more ways the author uses driving as a symbol for freedom and how it affects each of the main characters.
2. Discuss the role of religion in Carol’s life and along her journey to personal freedom.
3. When Carol meets her lawyer/brother, Tony, at his office to discuss her options for leaving her marriage, she learns discouraging facts about the justice system’s treatment of women during that time. How have things changed? How have they stayed the same?
4. Discuss how shame plays into Ellie’s feelings (about her limp and/or shoes) and Carol’s feelings of shame (about her marriage and her visible marks).
5. We see that Carol has had strong male role models throughout her life. Why do you think she missed red flags early in her tumultuous relationship with Joe?
6. Readers might notice the switch from past to present tense in the last chapters of the novel. How does this literary technique play with a shift in Carol’s journey to healing and attitude toward her next chapter?

From the author

Suggested by Members

Any book club member know anyone who dated or married a controlling person and/or experienced domestic abuse?
Any book club member know anyone who had a relative that survived polio?
Who can relate to the fear of a new vaccine? Anyone know someone who has a partner controlling the spending in the family? Feminist themes are covered and make for great discussion points.
by JudyFran (see profile) 01/29/23

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Polish fare from desserts to main dishes
by JudyFran (see profile) 01/29/23
Polish Kolachki Cookies, Pierogies, Polish Sausage, martinis with Polish Vodka, Stuffed Cabbage, many dishes mentioned in the novel.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "Courageous Story about Motherhood in the 1940s-50s"by Judy P. (see profile) 01/29/23

"The Moments Between Dreams shows the challenges posed by devastating epidemics, the war, and societal prejudices. Brenner beautifully explores Carol's heart-warming relationships with her children and... (read more)

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