JCC MetroWest Book Group
Our book group is free, open to both members and non-members, and you can join and begin attending at any time! Click here for the Book Group archives. For more information contact, Sarah Diamond, 973-929-2938, firstname.lastname@example.org
November: Tuesday, November 14 at 12:00 noon (Bring your lunch!)
Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey
An inventive, brilliant, prize-winning debut novel about the disappearance of a famous Brazilian novelist and the young translator who turns her life upside down to follow her author’s trail.
Beatriz Yagoda was once one of Brazil’s most celebrated authors. At the age of sixty, she is mostly forgotten — until one summer afternoon when she enters a park in Rio de Janeiro, climbs into an almond tree, and disappears. When her devoted translator Emma hears the news in wintry Pittsburgh, she flies to the sticky heat of Rio. There she joins the author’s son and daughter to solve the mystery of Yagoda’s disappearance and satisfy the demands of the colorful characters left in her wake, including a loan shark with a debt to collect and the washed-up editor who launched Yagoda’s career. What they discover is how much of her they never knew.
Exquisitely imagined and as profound as it is suspenseful, Ways to Disappear is at once a thrilling story of intrigue and a radiant novel of self-reckoning.
December: Monday, December 18 at 12:00 noon (Bring your lunch!)
The Yid by Paul Goldberg
Moscow, February 1953. A week before Stalin’s death, his final pogrom, “one that will forever rid the motherland of the vermin,” is in full swing. Three government goons arrive in the middle of the night to arrest Solomon Shimonovich Levinson, an actor from the defunct State Jewish Theater. But Levinson, though old, is a veteran of past wars, and his shocking response to the intruders sets in motion a series of events both zany and deadly as he proceeds to assemble a ragtag group to help him enact a mad-brilliant plot: the assassination of a tyrant.
While the setting is Soviet Russia, the backdrop is Shakespeare, with Stalin in the role of mad king. As hilarious as it is moving, as philosophical as it is violent, with echoes of Inglourious Basterds and Seven Samurai, The Yid is a tragicomic masterpiece of historical fiction.
January: Thursday, January 18 at 12:00 noon (Bring your lunch!)
Two She-Bears, by Meir Shalev
This latest novel by the acclaimed Israeli author of A Pigeon and a Boy opens in a 1930s farming community in what was then called British Palestine and ends in present-day Israel. The setting is a moshava, or Jewish settlement, and the tale begins with Grandpa Ze’ev, the one-eyed patriarch of the Tavori family, who in 1930 moves to the moshava with a “rifle, a cow, a tree, and a woman,” all a man needed to start a life. A murderous domestic drama develops, the details of which Ruta Tavori later divulges alongside an episode from her own life: the death of her six-year-old son. Exquisitely paced and effortlessly shifting in tone from jaunty to suspenseful to tragic, this morally complex novel leaves no stone unturned in excavating one family’s past.
February: Tuesday, February 13 at 12:00 noon (Bring your lunch!)
Piece of Mind, by Michelle Adelman
At twenty-seven, Lucy knows everything about coffee, comic books, and Gus (the polar bear at the Central Park Zoo), and she possesses a rare gift for drawing. But since she suffered a traumatic brain injury at the age of three, she has had trouble relating to most people. She’s also uncommonly messy, woefully disorganized, and incapable of holding down a regular job. When unexpected circumstances force her out of the comfortable and protective Jewish home where she was raised and into a cramped studio apartment in New York City with her college-age younger brother, she must adapt to an entirely different life―one with no safety net. Over the course of a challenging summer, Lucy, one of the most endearing and heroic characters in contemporary fiction, is forced to discover that she has more strengths than she herself knew.
March: Monday, March 12 at 12:00 noon (Bring your lunch!)
Enchanted Islands, by Allison Amend
Based on the real-life escapades of Frances and Ainslie Conway, the novel augments the couple’s adventures as WWII American spies with the backstory of how a poor Jewish girl came to be involved in international espionage. Readers meet Franny as a willful child in Depression-era Duluth who escapes her family’s economic and moral tyranny by running off to Chicago with her best friend, the beautiful but flirtatious Rosalie Mendel. After they are torn apart by love and betrayal, Franny eventually makes her way to San Francisco, where she is recruited by U.S. Naval Intelligence for an unlikely assignment: the arranged marriage to an officer spying on German settlers of the Galapagos Islands. Franny accepts the chance to perhaps find the romance and adventure she’d missed. This is a taut, powerful tale of human relationships and the sacrifices people make to maintain their balance.
April: Wednesday, April 11 at 12:00 noon (Bring your lunch!)
They May Not Mean To, But They Do, by Cathleen Schine
The Bergman clan’s matriarch, Joy, is not slipping into old age with the quiet grace her children, Molly and Daniel, would have wished. When Joy’s beloved husband dies, Molly and Daniel have no shortage of solutions for their mother’s loneliness and despair, but there is one challenge they did not count on: the reappearance of an ardent suitor from Joy’s college days. And they didn’t count on Joy herself, a mother suddenly as willful and rebellious as their own kids. From one of America’s greatest comic novelists and author of The Three Weissmans of Westport, this is a hilarious new novel about aging, family, loneliness, and love.