September/October 2015

And so we meet Ove. Such a charming fellow, isn’t he?

Our first impression of Ove is quite negative and we witness his tirade at the Apple Store. The author impresses upon us that Ove views the world in very definite terms- good/bad and right/wrong. Some might say his character is quite unforgiving of what he perceives as flaws in others, but Ove looks at it as having ‘strong principles’. What do you think about a person who chooses to view the world in this manner? What would be the pros and cons, and the consequences? Have you ever known anyone like Ove? What would motivate someone to have this viewpoint and act in this way? Or is it just a personality trait. (Or flaw?)

We are also introduced to the cat, a quite mangy and worn looking feline (the Cat Annoyance) as well as Ove’s neighbors. He refers to them as the Lanky One, the Blond Weed, the Pregnant Foreign One and so forth, reducing them all to physical descriptions. What is achieved in the story by Ove’s referring to them in this way? Does it imply a distance between Ove and the other characters? Is this effective in the development of Ove’s character?

To delve further into Ove’s personality, we come to find that he likes useful stuff, “Stuff with a function.” Things like nuts, bolts and hooks…

(What is up with that hook? We’ll be figuring that out…)

Do people in general need to feel useful and have a purpose in life? What is it to lead a dignified life, and can this have a different meaning to different people? We see that Ove has an elaborate routine each morning and he is the self-appointed guardian of his housing complex. What does this mean to Ove?

Until next time!


Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman

Let’s meet Fredrik Backman, the Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation and author  of this novel:

“My name is Fredrik. I write things. Before I did that I had a real job, but then I happened to come across some information saying there were people out there willing to pay people just to write things about other people, and I thought ‘surely this must be better than working.’ And it was, it really was. Not to mention the fact that I can sit down for a living now, which has been great for my major interest in cheese-eating.”         (source:http://akademibokhandeln.se/forfattarbiografi/fredrik-backman/)

Before Fredrik Backman began his career as a writer and blogger (and professional cheese-eater) he worked as a forklift operator and a busboy. He released his debut novel A Man Called Ove in the autumn of 2012, and two years later the book was subsequently published in English. To date, more than 300,000 copies have been sold in Sweden, and the novel is slated for publication in more than 20 countries and in 25 languages. His second novel, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, was published in September 2013, and he plans to write a book every year. Fredrik lives outside of Stockholm with his wife and two children.

Check out some interviews with Fredrik:



It’s not too late to pick up a copy of A Man Called Ove at the Jericho Library circulation desk. Stay tuned as we get our discussion started in the next post!

(sources: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Fredrik-Backman/411545926, “Fredrik Backman.” Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2015. Biography in Context. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.)

New Month, New Book – September

Our next selection is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

September/October 2015

September/October 2015

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.(source: book jacket)

Everything I Never Told You – Discussion Questions

The Role of Women/Mothers

My mom had one that looked just like this. I still own it evokes fond memories of her.#I'mnotmarilyn

My mom had one that looked just like this. I still own it evokes fond memories of her.#I’mnotmarilyn

Marilyn has become the polar opposite of what she intended to become.  Her goal in attending college was to become a physician and yet almost immediately she falls into a relationship with James.  How much of this was self-fulfillment?  She does spend a great deal of time looking back and regretting her decision, or does she?  Do you think that she is able to reflect upon where she ended up (as a stay-at-home mother) and realize that she is responsible?  She does try to find a job on campus but never follows up until years later. Why?

Marilyn does converse with James about her desire to be more than a mom. What motivates James to encourage and support Marilyn to stay home?

The Betty Crocker Cookbook becomes a touchstone of sorts for many of the characters – Marilyn and her mother, Lydia and Marilyn, and last but not least Hannah.  What is the author trying to convey?

One of the most heartbreaking moments in the novel for me was when Marilyn finally finds the cookbook in Lydia’s room. Is there a moment in the novel that deeply affected you?


Everything I Never Told You – Discussion Questions Part 3 (Spoiler Alert)

July/August 2015

July/August 2015


The entire Lee family is dealing with the loss of Lydia, but like most families they are handling it in varying ways.  Not only are they dealing with the death of Lydia they are all also still, years later, reeling from the summer that Marilyn took off.  James and the kids have been on their best behavior for years trying their best to ensure that Marilyn is happy, but life cannot survive in an environment where relationships are like the thin and fragile shells of robin’s eggs.

How much of what happened stemmed from the fear of Marilyn leaving?  Do you think that had she not taken off that the family might have seen the town for what it was? Would the events that followed have been prevented?

James, Marilyn and Nath are able to share their grief via the pages of the book, but Hannah never seems to have been able to share her grief with anyone.  She sees the family grappling with the loss and their inability to deal with it communicate within the family, but they don’t see her.  Why?

Everything I Never Told You – Discussion Questions Part 2 (Spoiler Alert)

July/August 2015

July/August 2015

The story deals with prejudice in the 1960’s all the way up to 1977.  According to Celeste Ng, “at the time, of course, interracial marriages were both rare and stigmatized.  Now, it’s getting to be much more common… but at the time, it would’ve been a much bigger deal.”

Each of the characters experienced discrimination of one sort or another, even Jack who had he come out of the closet would have dealt with prejudice and the ramifications of “being different” in a very homogeneous community.  While they did all face it they each chose to deal with it in different ways.  Who do you feel was able to adapt the best/least?  Could James and Marilyn have made decisions that would have made their lives and the kids lives easier?  After finding out that Lydia had died James thinks back on why he bought the house by the lake and wondered if he had chosen differently Lydia might not have died, were there decisions that were made earlier that made events inevitable?  Where they inevitable?

Celeste Ng is the child of two parents of Chinese decent.  Growing up in the ’90s she says “virtually all of the overtly racist things, large and small, in the book are things that either my family experienced of other Asian families that i knew experienced.  Sadly, I didn’t really have to do much research on that at all.”  Do you think it’s significant that Ng chose to set the book 20 years before she experienced racism as a teen, and wrote the novel 20 years (or so) after her teenage years? If so why?

I heard one comment that a reader thought that this novel felt more like a veiled memoir to her.  She truly thought that, perhaps, this was just Ng telling her own story (albeit dramatized – she did not lose a family member to drowning.)  What do you think?

Everything I Never Told You – Discussion Questions (spoiler alert)

July/August 2015

July/August 2015

Let’s begin at the beginning.

As the book begins we are aware that “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . .”

The novel begins by telling this.  Did revealing this information right away influence the way you read the novel?  

Some have said that they expected the novel to be more of a mystery. The novel is many things but I wouldn’t consider it a mystery.   Was this what you expected?  Were you disappointed?

It is revealed at the end of the book what actually did happen to Lydia but I won’t reveal that right now because I fear that many have not reached that point yet.  I will revisit this later on but I’d like you to ponder these questions. As you delve into the story do you find it important to actually find out what happened to her?  If it is revealed to her family do you think it would allay or worsen their grief?



More to come!  If you haven’t picked up a book yet give us a call and we can put it on reserve for you.

Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng

Celest NgCeleste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You  (Penguin Press), which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, and Amazon’s #1 Best Book of the Year 2014. She grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award.  Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize.

Currently, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (source:http://www.celesteng.com/about/)

Our July/August 2015 Book

everything i never told youI’ve been wanting to discuss from the first page of this book.  I’m delighted to introduce “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng.

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened. (from the dust jacket)

Stop in at the Circulation desk, or download a copy today and get in on the fun.

Invisible City Discussion Questions – The End

May/June 2015

May/June 2015

All of us have survived the scene in the garage between Miriam including Rebekah – all that is except Miriam.

The novel neatly wraps up the murder of Rivka, but leaves us wondering about Rebekah and her relationships with Tony, her father, and the possibility of finally reuniting with her mother.

What did you think of the story?  Were there issues that you had with either the writing, the story, the depiction of Hasids?  Come on now I know you have opinions!

There is a second book out now, Run You Down, that deals with another murder. This time the story is set in the ultra-Orthodox Upstate town of Roseville, N.Y. (could it be based upon the town of Kiryas Joel?)

Would you be interested in following Rebekah’s story?

I’ll introduce our next novel next time.4th of July

Have a happy 4th.