Bold Spirit: Helga Estby’s forgotten walk across Victorian America. Linda Hunt

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NEW Book Club Bags


July 2015
NOTE: Book Club Bag listings are now noting other editions of the title that are available at the North Mankato Taylor Library using the following codes: LP = Large Print, A = Audiobook, DA = Downloadable audiobook, E = Downloadable eBook.

Bold Spirit: Helga Estby’s forgotten walk across Victorian America. Linda Hunt.

In 1896, a Norwegian immigrant and mother of eight children named Helga Estby was behind on taxes and the mortgage when she learned that a mysterious sponsor would pay $10,000 to a woman who walked across America. 
Hoping to win the wager and save her family’s farm, Helga and her teenaged daughter Clara, armed with little more than a compass, red-pepper spray, a revolver, and Clara’s curling iron, set out on foot from Eastern Washington. DA, E
Everything I never told you: a novel. Celeste Ng.

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A, DA, E

The good food revolution: growing healthy food, people, and communities. Will Allen.


The son of a sharecropper, Will Allen had no intention of ever becoming a farmer himself. But after years in professional basketball and as an executive for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Procter & Gamble, he cashed in his retirement fund for a two-acre plot just outside Milwaukee's largest public housing project. Despite financial challenges and daunting odds, Allen built the country's preeminent urban farm-a food and educational center that now produces enough produce and fish year-round to feed thousands. Employing young people from the neighboring housing project and community, Growing Power shows how local food systems can help troubled youths, dismantle racism, create jobs, bring urban and rural communities closer together, and improve public health. E
The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks. Rebecca Skloot.

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. LP, A, E
The life intended. Kristin Harmel.

After her husband’s sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she’s planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn’t she more excited? At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she’s really ready to move on. Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband’s hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined. E

The life we bury. Allen Eskins.

College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same. Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran--and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder. As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory. E


The pianist: the extraordinary story of one man’s survival in Warsaw, 1939-45. Wladyslaw Szpilman.

On September 23, 1939, Wladyslaw Szpilman played Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor live on the radio as shells exploded outside—so loudly that he couldn’t hear his piano. It was the last live music broadcast from Warsaw: That day, a German bomb hit the station, and Polish Radio went off the air. Though he lost his entire family, Szpilman survived in hiding. In the end, his life was saved by a German officer who heard him play the same Chopin Nocturne on a piano found among the rubble. Written immediately after the war and suppressed for decades, The Pianist is a stunning testament to human endurance and the redemptive power of fellow feeling. E

So brave, young, and handsome. Leif Enger.

 A lively, big-hearted redemption tale; an unforgettable, picaresque Western yarn.
In 1915 Minnesota, writer Monte Becket has lost his sense of purpose. His only success long behind him, Monte lives simply with his wife and son until he befriends outlaw Glendon Hale. Plagued by guilt over abandoning his wife two decades ago, Glendon aims to go back West on a quest for absolution.  A, DA
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Gabrielle Zevin.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over--and see everything anew. A,E
.Unbroken: a World War II airman’s story of survival, resilience, and redemption. Laura Hillenbrand.

In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will. LP, A, DA, E.

Winter garden. Kristin Hannah.

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time—and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya’s life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago.  A, E
Where’d you go, Bernadette? Maria Semple.

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

LP, A, DA, E.

Junior Book Club Bags
Flora and Ulysses: the illuminated adventures. Kate DiCamillo.

It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry — and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. A, E


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