September 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm , by Lauren Piro
Did you read our September LHJ Book Club pick, Bitter in the Mouth? We haven’t stopped talking about the metaphors, secret-keeping characters, and major, jaw-dropping plot twists for weeks! It’s definitely a thinker (perfect to nosh on over some wine and cheese with friends). If you’re still looking to get started, check out all of the extra goodies we posted this month—an in-depth Q&A with author Monique Truong (I was desperate to get her to reveal her secrets to crafting this rich story), a list of discussion questions, and an excerpt to introduce you to the book.
The bookish bloggers over at Girls in the Stacks read Bitter and ran with it (go girls!), writing a review, answering the discussion questions, and hosting their own virtual book club chat via a terrific podcast. I loved hearing how the book challenged them—they had so much to say about the themes and characters, and I wanted to dive right into their discussion!
We hope you’ll read October’s pick, Allison Pearson’s I Think I Love You along with us . It’s an exquisite, endearing novel about teenage love, friendship, growing up—and David Cassidy (was he your favorite, too?). Check out a sneak peek on the book club page, and join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and right here on our blog as we talk about it for the next month.
August 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm , by Lauren Piro
I spoke with Monique Truong about her childhood experiences in the south, the themes of friendship, family and secret keeping in Bitter in the Mouth (the inaugural LHJ Book Club pick!), and how she ended up weaving an intricate story around a girl who tastes words.
The novel’s protagonist, Linda Hammerick, feels like an outsider in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, a town you lived in as a child. How much of your own life mirrors Linda’s? Is the story autobiographical?
I sometimes joke that if life gives you a little town called Boiling Springs and you’re a writer, you’d be foolish not to write about it. There was a lot in my own experience that I thought was important for me to revisit as an adult, as a writer.
When my family came to Boiling Springs, it was the summer of 1975. I remember clearly going to school for the first time and realizing that something had happened—that my body had somehow transformed. I was born in Saigon and was growing up in Vietnam as a little girl, but the moment that I stepped into the elementary school in Boiling Springs, I was no longer just a little girl. All of a sudden there was a lot of interest in the color of my skin, the shape of my eyes, and the color of my hair. I felt like there was this disconnect between how I felt inside and the way I was being treated based on how people were seeing me.
So in creating Linda, I was trying to draw on the confusion that I had and tried to imagine a situation in which a character would feel disconnected from her own body and not understand what was going on—though not in exactly the same way as it happened to me.
I don’t have synesthesia and I don’t have the same sort of family background as Linda, though.
August 1, 2011 at 8:00 am , by Catherine LeFebvre
To celebrate the start of our book club, we’re giving away a Nook Color. It’s kind of like a Kindle, except you can also read magazines on it (like, ahem, ours), play games and connect to the Internet. I absolutely love mine, so I can’t wait to give one away! We’ll also put Bitter in the Mouth on it, our first book club pick, so you can dive right in as soon as you get it. Just leave a comment on this post, and you’re entered!