Join this group where a Palm Springs Library Reference Librarian leads a monthly book club meeting at the Mizell Senior Center.
The group meets the second Thursday of every month from 10:30 -11:30 a.m (September-June).
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 go to www.mizell.org or call 760-323-5689.
2019 / 2020 Season
September 12, 2019: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
October 10, 2019: The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
November 14, 2019: The Baby Thief by Barbara Bisantz Raymond
December 12, 2019: We Were Rich and We Didn't Know It by Tom Phelan
January 9, 2020: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
February 13, 2020: Grateful American by Gary Sinese
March 12, 2020: The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
April 9, 2020: Tears of Salt by Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilotta
May 14, 2020: A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White
June 11, 2020: News of the World by Paulette Jiles
September 12, 2019
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
—#1 New York Times Bestseller
For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life—until the unthinkable happens.
Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
October 10, 2019
The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
—A New York Times Bestseller
—“The plot provided by the universe was filled with starvation, war and rape. I would not—could not—live in that tale.”
Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbors began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds her brother said were thunder. In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years migrating through seven African countries, searching for safety—perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. They did not know whether their parents were dead or alive.
When Clemantine was twelve, she and her sister were granted refugee status in the United States; there, in Chicago, their lives diverged. Though their bond remained unbreakable, Claire, who had for so long protected and provided for Clemantine, was a single mother struggling to make ends meet, while Clemantine was taken in by a family who raised her as their own. She seemed to live the American dream: attending private school, taking up cheerleading, and, ultimately, graduating from Yale. Yet the years of being treated as less than human, of going hungry and seeing death, could not be erased. She felt at the same time six years old and one hundred years old.
In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine provokes us to look beyond the label of “victim” and recognize the power of the imagination to transcend even the most profound injuries and aftershocks. Devastating yet beautiful, and bracingly original, it is a powerful testament to her commitment to constructing a life on her own terms.
November 14, 2019
The Baby Thief by Barbara Bisantz Raymond
Drawing on extensive interviews and correspondence with many of Tann's surviving victims, Barbara Raymond shows how Tann not only popularized adoption—which until then had been feared and discouraged —but also commercialized and corrupted it. She tells how Tann abducted babies or coerced women to leave their children in her care and then sold them. To cover her kidnapping crimes she falsified birth certificates, a practice that was approved by legislators who believed it would spare adoptees the taint of illegitimacy—and one that still holds today in the form of 'amended' birth certificates and closed adoption records.
Uncovering many life-shattering stories along the way, Raymond recounts how Tann openly sold more that 5,000 children, and killed so many through neglect that Memphis's infant mortality rate soared to the highest in the country. She explores how Tann's operation was able to thrive in a Tennessee governed by 'Boss' Ed Crump and the political network that allowed her to operate with impunity. And she portrays the lack of options available to women, affecting not only the birth mothers she robbed, but also Tann herself, who turned to social work after having been barred for what was then considered a masculine profession—the law. Written by an adoptive mother, The Baby Thief is part social history, part detective story, and part expose. It is a riveting investigative narrative that explores themes that continue to reverberate in the modern era, when baby sellers operate overseas.
December 12, 2019
We Were Rich and We Didn't Know It by Tom Phelan
—In the tradition of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes and Alice Taylor’s To School Through the Fields, Tom Phelan’s We Were Rich and We Didn't Know It is a heartfelt and masterfully written memoir of growing up in Ireland in the 1940s.
Tom Phelan, who was born and raised in County Laois in the Irish midlands, spent his formative years working with his wise and demanding father as he sought to wrest a livelihood from a farm that was often wet, muddy, and back-breaking.
It was a time before rural electrification, the telephone, and indoor plumbing; a time when the main modes of travel were bicycle and animal cart; a time when small farmers struggled to survive and turkey eggs were hatched in the kitchen cupboard; a time when the Church exerted enormous control over Ireland.
We Were Rich and We Didn't Know It recounts Tom’s upbringing in an isolated, rural community from the day he was delivered by the local midwife. With tears and laughter, it speaks to the strength of the human spirit in the face of life's adversities.
January 9, 2020
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
—Winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction
—Longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward—with hope and pain—into the future.
February 13, 2020
Grateful American by Gary Sinese
―The New York Times bestseller
―"The book is called Grateful American, and I promise you after you read it you will be grateful for what Gary has accomplished and contributed to our country." (Clint Eastwood)
As a kid in suburban Chicago, Gary Sinise was more interested in sports and rock 'n' roll than reading or schoolwork. But when he impulsively auditioned for a school production of West Side Story, he found his purpose―or so it seemed.
Within a few years Gary and a handful of friends created what became one of the most exciting and important new theater companies in America. From its humble beginnings in a suburban Chicago church basement and eventual move into the city, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company launched a series of groundbreaking productions, igniting Gary's career along with those of John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, John Mahoney, and others. Television and film came calling soon after, and Gary starred in Of Mice and Men (which he also directed) and The Stand before taking the role that would change his life in unforeseeable ways: Lieutenant Dan in the Academy Award–winning Forrest Gump.
The military community's embrace of the character of the disabled veteran was matched only by the depth of Gary's realization that America's defenders had not received all the honor, respect, and gratitude their sacrifices deserve. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, this became Gary's mission. While starring in hits like Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman, George Wallace, CSI:NY, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Gary has worked tirelessly on behalf of those who serve this country, entertaining more than a half million troops around the world playing bass guitar with his Lt. Dan Band, raising funds on behalf of veterans, and eventually founding the Gary Sinise Foundation with a mission to serve and honor America's defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.
Grateful American is the moving, entertaining, profoundly gripping story of how one man found his calling: to see that those who defend this country and its freedoms are never forgotten.
March 12, 2020
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
―In this bravura follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize, and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.
As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is "as good as anyone." Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides "physical, intellectual and moral training" so the delinquent boys in their charge can become "honorable and honest men."
In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear "out back." Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King's ringing assertion "Throw us in jail and we will still love you." His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble.
The tension between Elwood's ideals and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys' fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.
Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.
April 9, 2020
Tears of Salt by Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilotta
—The internationally best-selling personal story of "the doctor on the front lines of the migrant crisis." (CNN)
Situated more than one hundred miles off Italy’s southern coast, the rocky island of Lampedusa has hit world headlines in recent years as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern refugees fleeing civil war and terrorism and hoping to make a new life in Europe. Dr. Pietro Bartolo, who runs the lone medical clinic on the island, has been caring for many of them―both the living and the dead―for a quarter century.
Tears of Salt is Dr. Bartolo’s moving account of his life and work set against one of the signal crises of our time. With quiet dignity and an unshakable moral center, he tells unforgettable tales of pain and hope, stories of those who didn’t make it and those who did. Tears of Salt is a lasting work of literature and an intimate portrait of a remarkable man whose inspiring message rings clear: "We can’t and we won’t be governed by our fears."
May 14, 2020
A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White
From Susan Rebecca White, award-winning author of A Soft Place to Land and Bound South, comes a breathtaking story of three richly nuanced outcasts whose paths converge in a chic Manhattan café as they realize they must give up everything they thought they knew to find a home at last.
Alice Stone is famous for the homemade southern cuisine she serves at Café Andres, a chic gathering place for New York’s cultural illuminati, and for her groundbreaking southern cookbook. But her past, on the other hand, is a mystery to all who know her. Upon Alice’s retirement, Bobby Banks, a young gay man ostracized by his family in Georgia, sets out to revive the aging café with his own brand of southern cooking while struggling with heartbreak like he’s never known. Meanwhile, seeking respite from the breakup of her marriage, wealthy divorcée Amelia Brighton finds solace in the company and food at Café Andres, until a family secret comes to light in the pages of Alice’s cookbook that threatens to upend her life.
In her most accomplished novel yet, Susan Rebecca White braids together the stories of these three unforgettable characters who must learn that when you embrace the thing that makes you different, you finally may become whole.
June 11, 2020
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
—Soon to be a Major Motion Picture Starring Tom Hanks
—National Book Award Finalist for Fiction
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.
In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.
In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.
Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.
Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself. Exquisitely rendered and morally complex, News of the World is a brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.