In December, we discussed A Grown-up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson, which was a genre shift from our usual literary fiction to women’s fiction. We agreed that though variety is the spice of life and it’s important to read different types of books (perhaps this is even the point of being in a book club), this one was not a favorite. Then during the last ten minutes of the discussion we reviewed the books we read this year and came up a rough Best & Worst of 2012 list.
- We liked that this book was a departure. The three voices were written distinctly and each character was vividly drawn. Their lives were a little foreign though, and they felt almost like people we didn’t know. The characters evolved throughout the book and learned something by the end, which is a redeeming fact and not true for every book we read.
- The world has changed so much in the past fifty years! Especially in regard to birth control, sex education, and a general openness in society. Even though adultery and children out of wedlock have always occurred, now it’s all out in the open. Some of us wish that it weren’t.
- Regionalism (from dialect to food and dress) is disappearing, as Jackson noted in her supplemental interview. Some participants noted specific examples of customs that have disappeared in their lifetimes.
At the discussion’s end, the question was raised “What did we get out of reading this book?” Really, only one or two of us would pick up another Jackson book. But many of us were entertained, and that is valuable. Because of the low literary merit but the potential entertainment value, this book is recommended only for select book clubs.
Best & Worst of 2012:
- Best nominees: In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
- Other “best” recommendations from the group (these books were not discussion group selections): The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani, In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner
- Worst nominees: A Grown-up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson, The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
Next month we are reading The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. See you January 14 at 11 a.m. Happy holidays!