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Cover to Cover Book Club

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Cover to Cover Book Club

The meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Mizell Senior Center at 480 S. Sunrise Way in Palm Springs. This month’s book is Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student and a Life-Changing Friendship by Michelle Kuo. Check the website for all book selections. 

The group meets the 2nd Thursday of every month from 10:30 -11:30 a.m. The Mizell Senior center is located on the corner of Sunrise and Ramon at 480 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262. For more information visit the Mizell Senior Center's website or call 760-323-5689.


October 11, 2018

Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student and a Life-Changing Friendship by Michelle Kuo

Reading with PatrickReaders witness the transformative power of their moving lessons in both literature and life (The New York Times).

Recently graduated from Harvard University, Michelle Kuo arrived in the rural town of Helena, Arkansas, as a Teach for America volunteer, bursting with optimism and drive. But she soon encountered the jarring realities of life in one of the poorest counties in America, still disabled by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. In this stirring memoir, Kuo, the child of Taiwanese immigrants, shares the story of her complicated but rewarding mentorship of one student, Patrick Browning, and his remarkable literary and personal awakening.
 
Convinced she can make a difference in the lives of her teenaged students, Michelle Kuo puts her heart into her work, using quiet reading time and guided writing to foster a sense of self in students left behind by a broken school system. Though Michelle loses some students to truancy and even gun violence, she is inspired by some such as Patrick. Fifteen and in the eighth grade, Patrick begins to thrive under Michelle's exacting attention. However, after two years of teaching, Michelle feels pressure from her parents and the draw of opportunities outside the Delta and leaves Arkansas to attend law school.
 
Then, on the eve of her law-school graduation, Michelle learns that Patrick has been jailed for murder. Feeling that she left the Delta prematurely and determined to fix her mistake, Michelle returns to Helena and resumes Patrick's education—even as he sits in a jail cell awaiting trial. Every day for the next seven months they pore over classic novels, poems, and works of history. Little by little, Patrick grows into a confident, expressive writer and a dedicated reader galvanized by the works of Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Walt Whitman, W. S. Merwin, and others.
 
In this powerful memoir that "avoids the education-as-savior cliché," as James Forman, Jr. and Arthur Evenchik write, Kuo is herself transformed as she contends with the legacy of slavery and he questions of what constitutes a "good" life and what the privileged owe to those with bleaker prospects.


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