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Escape by Carolyn Jessop, Laura Palmer
 
Informative, Dramatic, Interesting
A timely book about the FLDS, an extreme Mormon sect told by Carolyn Jessop, who ultimately escaped.

This was our book club's first meeting. We chose it because it is such a big story in the news lately and knew it would be easy to discuss. The book itself isn't a literary masterpiece, but it is topical and driven by the real life "plot". The story itself is enough of a hook. Once you get into it, which takes a while, it really picks up the pace and a lot of us felt we couldn't put it down. In reading Carolyn Jessop's account, you realize this is her experience as she sees it. No one in the FLDS community is going to counter it as they avoid discussing their lives with outsiders. It is an amazing story. Some of the people in the club felt it was similar to "A Thousand Splendid Suns". It is unbelievable how the lives of women (really, it is the treatment of women) in totally different cultures can be so alike. The books leaves you asking questions, which is perfect for a book club. I would highly recommend it as a book club choice as the story begs discussion.

Change of Heart: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
 
Interesting, Insightful, Informative
Jodi Picoult book is center around the death penalty. Chapters are written by different characters with varying views on the topic.

This is an excellent book club selection because it deals with a very controversial topic, which virtually guarantees a lively discussion. Jodi Picoult writes in a formulatic style and everyone in the group had early on in the readin, guessed the "twist" at the end that she is so famous for. Despite the predictable writing and the obligatory girl finally gets guy love interest chapters we all felt the book brought up excellent points and often do so beautifully. Many people discussed there favorite quotes and parts they cried over. Also, the book really makes you examine your own feelings about the death penalty as you view each character's emotions and reasons for their own opinions. We asked a lot of questions regarding the characters, "What would you do if you were him/her?" We felt some of the characters weren't fully fleshed out by Picoult so it was difficult to understand fully why they made the choices they did. However, this led to good discussion by the group.

 
Adventurous, Dramatic, Interesting
A fast read with interesting characters and non-fiction aspects about the circus

Our club read this as the third and final book (we only meet in the summer). No one in the group loved it, but all of us liked it. We all were disappointed in the ending, and felt Gruen needed to expand upon it instead of quickly wrapping it up into a cute ending. The history is fascinating, who knew the circus was so dangerous and naughty? We all looked up more info on elephants, etc. We found that many of the book club questions were very deep and many members said, "What did I miss, I didn't find it had that much depth or hidden meaning?" The book sparked a lot of text to self connections regarding aging. Most of our discussion was about Jacob as an old man. Many members related to Gruen's fantastic writing regarding aging. She developed a great character and it created a lot of discussion about aging parents, and how it feels to have no control over your life. We totally understood how Jacob went back to those circus years in his mind.

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