“Three Wishes” book response and July selection!

Virtual Book Club
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It’s the last Wednesday of the month and you know what that means… my monthly book review! After heavy and lengthy books, the Virtual Book Club wanted something light and summery to read for June. I was grateful because although reading hard, important books, magazines, and the news is something we should all do for our own self-enrichment, sometimes an escape is necessary as well, and isn’t that what summer reads are for?

Not that Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty is all sunshine and roses. It’s actually kind of dark tempered with lots of light moments. There is a ton of slapstick humor running through the book; it lightens up the continually awful events happening to one or more characters at a time. The book contains overarching themes about sisterhood, secrets, hardships (relationships and childbearing), and what success really looks like.

The premise of the book centers around three triplet sisters in Sydney who are at different stages in their lives, despite being the same age. It takes place at Christmas, which can be a very stressful time of the year for those with complicated families. Twist: Christmas in Australia is in the middle of summer; this still qualified as our summer beach read!

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The Kettle family is complicated, but not in that way that families in books and movies always hate each other. The family was unique in that all three sisters, plus mother and father (divorced decades ago) and grandma all lived in the same city and generally all like one another. Unheard of in movies these days! The sisters are very close—a recurring theme in the book is that some characters think they are too close. When you’re a triplet, where do you draw the line between yourself and your family? Who comes first: sister or spouse/significant other?

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One of my favorite things in Three Wishes was that Moriarty included these little asides narrated by bystanders observing the Kettle family and then relaying the vignette to someone else. It reminded me of the asides interspersed throughout When Harry Met Sally. Although to us our families may seem screwed up, to others they seem sweet and normal. To me they served a dual purpose: One, don’t underestimate the struggles someone is going through just because they seem okay; and two, something that seems huge and all encompassing at the moment could blow over and isn’t really worth getting so worked up about. Perspective!

[Possible spoilers here but I’m being pretty vague] I feel that the book never really answered the “who is more important, sisters or husbands” question, but it did push each triplet sister to grow in their own way. The one with an apparently perfect life learned to ask others for help. The freespirit matured in a visible way (although, maybe she was secretly mature the whole time?) and the codependent one learned independence and self-discovery.

I wonder what I’ll learn next year? I am (gulp) creeping up on 30 this September, after all.

As always, leave your comments below or link me to your review if you’ve already posted it on Goodreads or Amazon! I would love to read your take! 


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Last night we held our monthly discussion group on Facebook. I ran it (!) and we had the BEST time posting celebrities who we’d like to cast in the movie version of this book. It’s great to hear other perspectives on themes and events in a book while it’s fresh in our minds. If you’d like to join us over there (normally the last Tuesday of the month), message me on Facebook to be added.

For July, our group voted on runner-up books from the past few months. We will be reading One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul, who is a feature writer for Buzzfeed. Some reviews draw positive comparisons to Mindy Kaling (which we did as a group last September) so I am really looking forward to this collection of short stories. Please join along with me, Libby, and the rest of our group as we read together.

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“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” book response and June selection!

Coming off of grim dystopian novel A Handmaid’s Tale, we all decided to read something sweeter for April and May. Confession: I nominated this book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and didn’t realize how long it was (500+ pages) so we extended the book club by a month (hence no post at the end of April).

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I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn several years ago and remember being quietly moved by it. I was eager to revisit it and find out if the feeling was still true. It was.

This is Betty Smith’s first and most famous novel, largely based on her own experience growing up in a poor immigrant family, after the turn of the 20th century but before World War I. The book is written in third person but focuses mainly on the main character, Francie, and secondly on her family, the Nolans: mother Katie, father Johnny, and brother Neely. The premise of following along as an 11-to-17 year old girl grows up in desperate poverty sounds quite grim, but Francie’s rich inner world and constant childlike-but-wise observations on the world around her are constantly charming and heartwarming. In this way, we can all take a lesson from this and reflect on the beautiful in the everyday.

“Then I’ve been drunk, too,” admitted Francie.
“On beer?”
“No. Last spring, in McCarren’s Park, I saw a tulip for the first time in my life.”

The thing I liked most about the writing in this book is how often Smith would lay out the story or moment, and then at the end let us enter into the character’s reflection at the end. She would summarize dinner and the evening routine in the Nolan household, maybe one without enough food to go around, and then slip in something poignant like Katie thinking to herself, “It’s a hard and bitter world. They’ve got to live in it. Let them get hardened young to take care of themselves.” Peeking into the inner lives of the characters, even side characters from time to time, connected me more to each of them and reminds me that we all aspire to be more and we have inner lives that only some of us bring to daylight.

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As the book progresses, it does so slowly at times, and rapidly at times, just how I felt as I grew up. And, although the world in the book was 100 years ago, there are so many relatable everyday moments. There are still those universally relatable moments—sibling jealousy, the struggle of a horrible teacher, the worries about not fitting in at a new job. I’m sure I will read this again every few years to remind me that every life is a journey, even if it doesn’t seem to have a straight direction, and that I should pause and reflect on the small things in my life from time to time.

“If there was only one tree like that in the world, you would think it was beautiful. But because there are so many, you just can’t see how beautiful it really is.”

As always, leave your comments below or link me to your review if you’ve already posted it on Goodreads or Amazon! I would love to read your take!


Virtual Book ClubLast night we held our monthly discussion group on facebook. I love setting aside time to hear other perspectives on themes and events in a book that was fresh in our minds. If you’d like to join us over there (normally the last Tuesday of the month), message me on facebook to be added.

For June, our group selected by vote Three Wishes by the ubiquitous Liane Moriarty. I’ve never read anything by this author but she is wildly popular, so I’m sure it will be good. Please join along with me, Libby, and the rest of our group as we read together.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” book response and April selection!

I don’t know what your political affiliations are, but sometimes I feel that even as we march towards a “better” future, we are also slowly creeping towards a dystopian world. A world in which computers know more than we do, when separation anxiety from a device is real, when corporations have more rights than the workers who power them… you get the idea. So, reading dystopian novels like 1984 and Brave New World fill me with dread and at the same time fascination. The Handmaid’s Tale was a big gap in the dystopian genre that I’d always meant to fill, and now I have! It isn’t that common for the genre to have a female protagonist, and I found that it made the troubling alternate reality more personal instead of societal.

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood book club response

When I picked this up, I already knew that some people had been comparing it to “America under a totally Republican-led government.” What I didn’t know was it had been written in the mid 80s as a response to the rise of the Moral Majority’s attempts to move women from the workforce back into the role of mother and homemaker. So, I suppose in some regard this comparison was intended by the author, 30 years ago? Instead, I read it through the lens of someone who has studied global politics including [the lack of] women’s rights in Saudia Arabia, and in Afghanistan under the Taliban (click if you want to be informed, and depressed). Households in these countries, recently and currently, give women little to no autonomy. They are literally treated like family property. And this isn’t the 1800s or the 1950s, this is the 2000s.

Do I ever think the US will reach the level of a totally male-led theocracy? No. Do I think there are men in power who do seek to purposely suppress the rights of women? Sure. Do I think there will be enough of them to enforce a regimented caste system among women like in this book? Of course not. Especially if we (women) and our allies keep our eyes open. I am encouraged by the January Women’s Marches. People across the US are more plugged in and involved with causes than they have been in decades, and regarding a lot of topics, too. Gender issues, minority issues, disability issues, nature and food issues, etc.

Spoilers between this photo and the next one. 

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood book club response

Aside from the current event commentary, the main question with regards to The Handmaid’s Tale is… what happens to Offred after the narration stops? I believe the answer to that question divides people into optimists and pessimists; I think the author wants it that way. First you have to think about how Offred got to the point of telling her tale at all. Increasingly audacious steps of rule-breaking:

  • Revealing to Ofglen that she is not a True Believer
  • Meeting with the Commander in private, including, gasp, reading
  • Going to Jezebel’s and getting secret information from Moira
  • Her arrangement with Serena Joy—including her continued liaisons with Nick
  • Finally, the rescue, which I believe was orchestrated by Nick

It is my hypothesis that she records her tale in a safe house, and stores the tapes in that safe house before being transported out of the country. That is what I hope happens. It is just as likely that she is apprehended on her way out of the country. I guess I’m an optimist and hope it’s the former. Many people in my discussion group wondered if she ever saw her daughter again. I guess it’s because I’m not a mother but I honestly hadn’t thought about that. What do you think?

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood book club response

The Handmaid’s Tale comes out on Hulu April 26. Netflix and Hulu have really been bringing it in regards to original programming lately. Our TV antenna picks up no channels so we depend on Hulu to watch current shows like New Girl and This Is Us. So here’s where I give you my referral code if you aren’t already a customer. If you sign up I get $10! Check out Hulu for 2 weeks free, on me! Plans start at $7.99 after 1st 2 weeks. Terms apply.

As always leave your comments below or link me to your review if you’ve already posted it on Goodreads or Amazon. I would love to read your take.


Virtual Book ClubLast night we held our monthly discussion group on facebook. If you’d rather discuss our monthly reads over there (normally the last Tuesday of the month), instead of in the comment section here, message me on facebook to be added.

For April, our group sought out something “springy” and decided that growth fit the theme. We voted and selected A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I am really excited to re-read this; it is one of my favorite books.  Please join along with Libby, Steph, and the rest of our group as we read together.