Book Clubs and reviews…

July’s reading selection is The Latehomecomer: a Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Yang

In search of a place to call home, thousands of Hmong families made the journey from the war-torn jungles of Laos to the overcrowded refugee camps of Thailand and onward to America. But lacking a written language of their own, the Hmong experience has been primarily recorded by others. Driven to tell her family’s story after her grandmother’s death, The Latehomecomer is Kao Kalia Yang’s tribute to the remarkable woman whose spirit held them all together. It is also an eloquent, firsthand account of a people who have worked hard to make their voices heard.

Beginning in the 1970s, as the Hmong were being massacred for their collaboration with the United States during the Vietnam War, Yang recounts the harrowing story of her family’s captivity, the daring rescue undertaken by her father and uncles, and their narrow escape into Thailand where Yang was born in the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp.

When she was six years old, Yang’s family immigrated to America, and she evocatively captures the challenges of adapting to a new place and a new language. Through her words, the dreams, wisdom, and traditions passed down from her grandmother and shared by an entire community have finally found a voice.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–-and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.”

A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck. So more than a decade later, when she meets boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gives him a second look: She is serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he is the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican party, and she is a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she feels inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice falls for Charlie.

As Alice learns to make her way amid the clannish energy and smug confidence of the Blackwell family, navigating the strange rituals of their country club and summer estate, she remains uneasy with her newfound good fortune. And when Charlie eventually becomes President, Alice is thrust into a position she did not seek–one of power and influence, privilege and responsibility.

As Charlie’s tumultuous and controversial second term in the White House wears on, Alice must face contradictions years in the making: How can she both love and fundamentally disagree with her husband? How complicit has she been in the trajectory of her own life? What should she do when her private beliefs run against her public persona?

In Alice Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld has created her most dynamic and complex heroine yet. American Wife is a gorgeously written novel that weaves class, wealth, race, and the exigencies of fate into a brilliant tapestry–-a novel in which the unexpected becomes inevitable, and the pleasures and pain of intimacy and love are laid bare. (review from

Read a biography! Not only are biographies informative, they’re entertaining. Here is a short list of biographies you can get through the library or Libby.

~ 𝙇𝙚𝙤𝙣𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙤 𝘿𝙖𝙑𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙞 by Walter Isaacson.
~ 𝘼 𝘽𝙚𝙖𝙪𝙩𝙞𝙛𝙪𝙡 𝙈𝙞𝙣𝙙 by Sylvia Nasar – John Nash an acclaimed mathematician who battled schizophrenia. Also a movie.
~ 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙄𝙢𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙖𝙡 𝙇𝙞𝙛𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙃𝙚𝙣𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙩𝙩𝙖 𝙇𝙖𝙘𝙠𝙨 by Rebecca Skloot – A woman whose cells changed the trajectory of modern medicine. Also a movie.
~ 𝘼𝙡𝙚𝙭𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧 𝙃𝙖𝙢𝙞𝙡𝙩𝙤𝙣 by Ron Chernow. Also a major broadway musical.
~ 𝙄𝙣𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙒𝙞𝙡𝙙 by John Krakauer – Christopher McCandless who traveled to Alaska and disappeared into the Denali wilderness in April 1992. Also a movie.
~ 𝘽𝙖𝙧𝙧𝙖𝙘𝙤𝙤𝙣 by Zora Neale Hurston. Based on Hurston’s interviews with the last remaining survivor of the Middle Passage slave trade, a man named Cudjo Lewis.
~ 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙇𝙤𝙨𝙩 𝘾𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙤𝙛 𝙕 by David Grann. Percy Fawcett, the archaeologist who vanished in the Amazon. Also a movie.
~ 𝙈𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙨 𝘽𝙚𝙮𝙤𝙣𝙙 𝙈𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙞𝙣𝙨 by Tracy Kidder – Doctor Paul Farmer who worked for decades to eradicate infectious diseases around the globe.
~ 𝙍𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙢𝙖𝙧𝙮 by Kate Clifford Larson – Rosemary Kennedy’s life and life after lobotomy.
~ 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙎𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙜𝙚𝙧 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙒𝙤𝙤𝙙𝙨 by Michael Finkel – Christopher Knight who lived alone in the Maine woods for almost thirty years.
~ 𝙎𝙩𝙚𝙫𝙚 𝙅𝙤𝙗𝙨 by Walter Isaacson. Also a movie.
~ 𝙐𝙣𝙗𝙧𝙤𝙠𝙚𝙣 by Laura Hillenbrand. Olympic runner Louis Zamperini’s US Army bomber crashed in the Pacific, leaving him and two other men afloat on a raft for forty-seven days and their subsequent capture by the Japanese Navy. Also a movie.