HMB Book Club :: September Book Recap and Our Next Book!

HMB Book Club:: September Book Recap and Our Next Book! | Houston Moms Blog

Hi, friends! Thank you to everyone who joined us for our first Facebook Live Book Club meeting! The beauty of our book club, though, is that you can participate live with us from the comfort and convenience of your home, or a week later if that’s what works for you. If you haven’t joined the HMB Book Club Facebook Group, you can find it here

Our September book was New York Times Bestseller YA {Young Adult} novel Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch.  You can watch the replay of the live broadcast here.  If you’d rather read about the discussion, I’m including a summary of the questions and responses below. If you’ve already watched the video, scroll down to read more about our October book and meeting date & time.

Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Question #1 :: How did you like it overall?

Emily said that she liked it, though she felt like there were some missing pieces. She said she felt like it kept her attention all the way through.

Ann said she thought it was a quick, easy, and cute read. She wanted to hug Addie!

Nicole said “Meh,” and felt like maybe she was a little too mature to really feel invested in these characters. 

I personally enjoyed this book. I LOVED the “excerpt chapters” from the “guidebook.” Addie’s secret isn’t revealed until the the winding up chapters in the book, but I felt like this kept the story engaging and really reflected how we all feel where we are nervous to share personal secrets {especially when we are ashamed} until we really know someone. We sort of need that time to get to know Addie before she is “comfortable” sharing her secret with us.

Near the end of our discussion, we all agreed that even though we didn’t necessarily identify with any of the characters in the story, we appreciated them. It felt like we were watching friends. 

Question #2 :: What did you think about the characters in the story?

Ann and I liked Addie. She seemed like someone I’d like to be friends with.

Rowan, though, was the majority’s favorite. Nicole was hoping to meet up with Rowan’s dad—ha! Just kidding. We all appreciated how cute and genuine he is throughout the novel. It said a lot about him that he was so worried about his parents’ relationship and that his heartbreak was not caused by a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, but by his parents’ heartbreak. Kayla mentioned how she liked the depth this twist on a heartache added to Rowan’s character.  Rowan is a peacemaker. He makes everything work. He provides the literal transportation for Ian from landmark to landmark and gives Addie the space and validation to progress on her own journey as well. This story wouldn’t work without Rowan!  He sees people for who they really are and not for who everyone expects them to be. Plus, his random cat t-shirts were AWESOME!

I had a respect for Ian’s secret blogging (hooray for bloggers!). Nicole wondered how he would be able to keep it all a secret as well as he did. I assumed that his mom’s newfound realty success probably helped him keep his secrets. Emily felt like Ian reminded her of a real brother. We respected Ian’s struggle with trying to follow his heart even though he was popular and well-known because of his football skills. My favorite Ian quote: “Labels aren’t big enough for people. And once you try to categorize someone, you stop looking for who they actually are.”

Question #3 :: What was your favorite passage or scene?

Emily mentioned the “Queen Maeve” scene in the fairy woods. We all agreed! This is such a great scene! I think by itself, this scene may seem really really weird. Nicole even wondered what she, as a mother, would have thought about her daughter participating in something like this ceremony. But I think we are all so invested in the characters by this time that we not only accepted it, but LOVED it! We may have even wished we could have been a part of it!  

Kayla mentioned the scene when Addie was there for Lina when Lina’s mom died. We loved the depiction of deep and caring friendship. The part when Addie was running through the hospital barefoot to be there for Lina was Nicole’s favorite. 

Nicole pointed out the particular part of the “Queen Maeve” ceremony when Addie asks herself, “What about you? What do you see in yourself?” We related that to an earlier scene when Addie mentions the thing she is the most upset about in all of her heartbreak is the fact that she didn’t listen to herself. These ideas of self-worth and not relying on the approval of others are the things we wish for our own children—especially our daughters! We never want them to feel like they must live their lives at the mercy of someone else’s approval. 

Here are a couple of mine: “Have you noticed the trees standing in tight communal bunches, branches locked together in an embrace of mutual affection and appreciation? Does it remind you of me and you? The way we just get each other?”

I loved this description of the Dingle Peninsula::

“If Ireland were a cake, and you the nervous recipient of something coming out of my oven, I would serve you a thick slice of Dingle. Tart, sugary, chewy Dingle.

It’s a combination of absolutely irresistible ingredients—crushed velvet hills, roads disappearing into milky mist, jelly bean–hued buildings crammed together on winding roads—all blended and whipped together into a ladyfinger-shaped peninsula that you’re going to want to dunk into a cold glass of milk.”

This delectable excerpt is followed a few paragraphs later by this fantastic explanation of heartache and grief as it relates to the peninsula:: “It might be helpful to look at the process of heartache like you would a peninsula. One with a long, looping road carrying you past a myriad of delights and wonders. Grief requires you to circle around the issue at hand, sometimes passing by it many, many times until it is no longer the destination but just part of the landscape. The trick is:: do not give in to despair. You are making progress, even if some days it just feels like you’re going in circles.” 

I just love this! I would be willing to bet that EVERYONE who has ever experienced heartache or grief of any kind can totally relate to that explanation. 

Emily also mentioned the final line of the acknowledgements at the end of the book: “And this last one’s just for me, but it needs to be here. Thank you to the little girl on the raft. New deal: you lead, I follow. I can’t wait to see where we go next.”

Additional Questions :: 

During the meeting, we also discussed whether or not we thought Addie would have gone on this adventure through Ireland in the first place if she didn’t have her secret. What do you think?

We also discussed whether or not we thought Addie changed at all during the book or if we just got to know her better. Emily commented that she thought Addie grew a bit and came to understand her self worth a bit during the story. Nicole pointed out how much more she liked Addie as a character after the explanation of how Addie helped Lina after Lina’s mom’s death.

Did Ian change? We decided that Ian did change a little, mostly thanks to Rowan who enabled him to pursue his actual dreams instead of living his typical life of other people’s expectations and perceptions.

We liked the ending! This doesn’t happen with every book, but this book does a great job of leaving the end open-ended enough that it felt real without some fake “and they all lived happily ever after” happening at the end, but still enough closure that we are not upset.

A good book inspires change of some kind. This book brings a bit of awareness to me as a parent that we have some work to do to prepare our children for responsible uses of technology and social media. It also served as a great reminder of how it feels to be a heartbroken teenager and the universality of heartbreak and grief in the human experience. Nicole reminded us about the importance of self-validation and self-worth in ourselves and instilling those traits within our own children.

Mom Talk

We mentioned mom feelings a few times throughout the meeting, but I am going to include all of these comments here.  YA books definitely lend themselves to opportunities that shed light on parenting teens.

What an incredible challenge it is to parent our kids through responsible use of technology! For many of us, cell phones, social media, and the internet were not around {or if they were, they were NOT available to us} when we were teens. This is uncharted territory! 

Nicole mentioned her friend Becky who is very vigilant in making sure she knows what is going on with her children and their technology. 

We all have a very real responsibility to teach our children how to be responsible with the power that comes in these smart devices and these new forms of communication and socialization. One mom’s solutions may or may not work for you and your family, but we all need to be intentional about educating our children and teaching them to be responsible and respectful of their own AND others’ privacy and feelings. 

We also REALLY wanted Addie to tell her mom! What can we do to encourage our children to come to us when they are in impossible situations—especially ones of their own creation?

Ann recommend Kids are the Worst on Instagram as a great resource for parenting tips related to social media.

Are we pushing our kids into stereotypes and missing out on seeing them shine in other areas that truly have their heart? Nicole points out how devastated she would feel if she were Ian’s mom and had missed out on Ian’s writing talents and success. 

The book never comes right out and says it, but I felt like these teens were under constant pressure from their cell phones. They received constant calls and texts from friends, siblings, and parents. It seemed like they never had the space they needed to be fully present in the moment because their phones interrupted them too frequently. I think the author did a great job of developing the story around that true-to-life situation. 

Coming Up Next :: 

Our October book club read is VERY different in so many ways, though there is a slight similarity in the prevailing theme of family—particularly siblings and their relationships. Our book is Kristin Hannah’s gripping novel The Nightingale. I read this book over a year ago now, and my thoughts still drift back to situations in this book regularly! It is haunting in a non-scary, deeply emotional sort of way. 

A paragraph inside the book jacket reads, “With courage, grace, and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion, and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France—a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. it is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.”

Once you get into the story, you won’t want to put it down {unless you, like me, didn’t want to find out what happened next in a few situations—I put the book down and waited a few days till I thought I could handle it and then I was surprised every time by what happened next}!

Our next meeting will be on Facebook Live on Thursday, October 25, at 8:30pm. We hope to see you there! Be sure to join the Book Club group today so you will get updates and preview questions as we lead up to our next meeting.

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