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! Meetings will be held on Zoom. All book discussions will begin at 12 PM and will be immediately followed by talks with the authors at 1 PM.
Click the button below for the Book Group archives. For more information contact, Katy Strulson, 973-530-3915, [email protected].
Monday, September 19
Meg Waite Clayton • The Postmistress of Paris
Inspired by real-life Chicago heiress Mary Jayne Gold, who worked with American journalist Varian Fry to smuggle artists and intellectuals out of France, The Postmistress of Paris is the haunting story of an indomitable woman whose strength, bravery, and love is a beacon of hope in a time of terror. A love story and a tale of high-stakes danger and incomparable courage about a young American heiress who helps artists hunted by the Nazis escape from war-torn Europe.
Thursday, October 20
Samantha Greene Woodruff • The Lobotomist’s Wife
Woodruff imagines Ruth Apter, a brilliant woman who falls for the charismatic doctor who introduced the lobotomy to the United States as treatment for depression, headaches, and even the “baby blues.” As the medical community abandons lobotomies, Dr. Apter becomes increasingly driven and deluded. When Ruth sees his passion turn to deadly obsession, she knows she’s the only one who can stop him. A propulsive yet chilling page-turner, this is a riveting story of a woman who risks everything to do what is right.
Wednesday, November 16 (no author program)
Michael Oren • Swann’s War
**Michael Oren will appear in person at the JCC on Sunday, October 23**
A thrilling literary fiction whodunit set on a rugged New England fishing island during WWII. With all the island’s men fighting overseas, trained cop Mary Beth Swann steps into her husband’s role as the beloved police captain. She has to fight for the respect of hardscrabble residents, with only the help of a simple-minded deputy, a disgraced doctor, and a mob-connected mainlander. And that’s before a murdered POW surfaces in a fisherman’s net, followed by more bodies.
Tuesday, December 13
Lynda Cohen Loigman • The Matchmaker’s Gift
A heartwarming story of two extraordinary women from two different eras who defy expectations to realize their unique gift of seeing soulmates in the most unexpected places. “Loigman’s latest is a gem. A scrappy Jewish teenager newly arrived in 1920s New York struggles to follow her calling as a matchmaker. Seventy years later, her cynical divorce-attorney granddaughter realizes she has very inconveniently inherited the family gift for matching soulmates. Both funny and moving.” (Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code)
Tuesday, January 17
Rachel Barenbaum • Atomic Anna
Artist Molly names her superhero character Atomic Anna after her birth mother. Molly learns from her Soviet refusenik adoptive parents that Anna’s research was key to the development of the atomic bomb. Later she will learn about Anna’s other research into riding ripples of time, as her mother unexpectedly appears at different points in Molly’s life. In this inventive time-travel drama, Anna struggles between her desire to stop the meltdown of the Chernobyl reactor she designed and the possibility of saving her daughter and the granddaughter she never met. “The threads build toward a deeply satisfying denouement, and the author uses the sci-fi plot device to explore parent-child relationships and questions about the morality of changing the past.” (Publisher’s Weekly)
Wednesday, February 15
Alyson Richman and Shaunna J. Edwards • The Thread Collectors
An ingenious young Black woman embroiders intricate maps on repurposed cloth to help enslaved men flee and join the Union Army. A Jewish woman in NYC attends abolitionist meetings and stitches quilts for Union soldiers. As these two women risk everything for love and freedom during the brutal Civil War, their paths converge in New Orleans, where an unexpected encounter leads them to discover that even the most delicate threads have the capacity to save us. Loosely inspired by the authors’ family histories, this stunning novel will stay with readers for a long time.
Tuesday, March 14
Jai Chakrabarti • A Play for the End of the World
New York City, 1972. Jaryk Smith, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, and Lucy Gardner, a Southerner newly arrived in the city, are in the first bloom of love when they receive word that Jaryk’s oldest friend has died under mysterious circumstances in a rural Indian village. Traveling there to collect his friend’s ashes, Jaryk soon finds himself enmeshed in the chaos of local politics and efforts to stage a play in protest against the government—the same play that he performed as a child in Warsaw as an act of resistance against the Nazis. An unforgettable love story, an exploration of the role of art in times of political upheaval, and a deeply moving reminder of the power of the past to shape the present.
Monday, April 17 (erev Yom Hashoah)
Shelly Sanders • Daughters of the Occupation
In 1940, the Soviets invade Latvia and occupy Riga, Miriam’s home, just as she gives birth to her son Monya. Then the Nazis arrive, killing Miriam’s husband and rounding up Jews. Miriam asks her loyal housekeeper to hide her children and conceal their Jewish roots. In 1970s Chicago, 24-year-old Sarah meets her estranged grandmother Miriam who begs Sarah to find the son she abandoned in Latvia. A magnificent, emotionally powerful story of family and the lingering devastation of war, The Daughters of the Occupation illuminates life in Latvia during WWII.
Tuesday, May 16
Sally Koslow • The Real Mrs. Tobias
A funny and big-hearted story about the deeply complicated relationships between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law, told through three generations of women who marry into the same family. “With a shrewd eye and a light touch, Sally Koslow weaves a story about three strong women whose memories, dreams, and desires conflict and intersect as they navigate a series of family crises. Warm, witty, and heartfelt, The Real Mrs. Tobias is a cinematic, fast-paced treat.” (Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Exiles and Orphan Train)
Tuesday, June 13
Kitty Zeldis • The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights
Moving from the bustling streets of 1920s New York City to late nineteenth-century Russia and the lively quarters of New Orleans in the 1910s, The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights is a story of the families we are born into and the families we choose, and of the unbreakable bonds between women. “A compelling tale of friendship, class, prejudice, and love.” (Kirkus, starred review)
Wednesday, July 19
Adam Langer • Cyclorama
The deeply moving, propulsive story of ten teenagers brought together by a high school production of The Diary of Anne Frank will shape and influence the rest of their lives. A series of events that unfolds in Evanston, Illinois in 1982 haunts the cast for years to come. In 2016, the actors moved on with their lives. Some are wildly successful, some never left their hometown, and some just want to be left alone. Everything changes, however, when one former cast member comes forward with an allegation dating back to the time of the play.
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An Afterlife – Intense – 4-Star – “Many books have been written about the Holocaust but not that many about the survivors and their life afterward. This book follows Ruby and Ilya, first in a DP camp in Germany and then trying to make a new life for themselves as refugees in New Jersey.” -Gaye Olin