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PBR Book Club Recommendations


PBR Review: I loved this book. Of course, the plot was entertaining; Liane Moriarty knows how to develop complex characters, and she excels at generating real-life drama and dialog that seems like it belongs at your dinner table. She captu More


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Talking Points: The author gives life to a wide range of issues in this book; aging, single parenting, infidelity, bullying, domestic abuse and being judgmental to name a few. The book also contrasts the everyday face people wear for others and what goes on when no one is looking. Excellent Book Club choice.

PBR Review: There is so much to this big 642 page book, itís hard to know where to begin. On the surface, it is the story of a mother and son. Sam is damaged, and his relationship with his mother is damaged, because without any explanation More


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Talking Points: The Nix is a story that details the inner workings of being human, vulnerable and working to understand and reconcile your past. Front and center is a mother and a son whose relationship is damaged, mostly because she abandoned him at a young age, but other dysfunctions are highlighted in this book too. Samuel is trying to understand and forgive his mother and get his life on track. The author also throws some politics into the mix, which some say is eerily similar to our current political climate. The satirical undertones of this book will also make for lively discussion.

PBR Review: We all need to bear witness to the atrocities of the Holocaust, individually as humans and collectively as a society. Reading, pondering and talking about these horrors ensures they will not happen again. This book, although fic More


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Talking Points: A son attempting to decalre his mother incompentant will hit some notes with book clubs. The connection to real life that this story has is also interesting and conversation worthy. The most conversation however will center around the events of Lens's past and her survival of the Nazi concentration camps as well as the choices she made to survive.

PBR Review: Based on true events, an engaging and well researched story with amazing historical perspective. It gives life to the behind the scene events of the Civil War. Placidia is young, newly married and left to tend her husbandís farm More


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Talking Points: This book is about perseverance and determination. Most Civil War books focus on the battle, this one shows the hardships endured by the women left behind and the courage and strength it took to survive. Slavery still existed so there is plenty to talk about on that front; the way they are treated, babies born to slaves fathered by elite white men and more importantly, did we really buy and sell human beings and afford these individuals no human rights? Placidia is a complex character. Her motivations for certain actions will definitely stir some conversation as well as the circumstances of her pregnancy and marriage. Readers will also have some strong feeling about Placidias husband, Major Hockaday and his actions; some not in a good way.

PBR Review: One thing is certain Ė pick up a Chris Bohjalian book and you are in for something original. This time, he brings his unique perspective and style to the condition of sleepwalking. And while the story revolves around a young woma More


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Talking Points: Like any disease, sleepwalking takes its toll on family. The author delves deep into the trauma and denial that happens when someone you love goes missing. After the disappearance of her mother, Lianna leaves school to care for her sister and father. The fairness of this and why her father allowed it will also be a good discussion topic; as will her relationship with the detective. And of course the topic of sleepwalking is well researched in this book and a fascinating topic.

PBR Review: Every so often you come across a book that grabs you, and you canít stop reading. This is just such a book. Joe is a college student with a biography due for a college paper and he needs someone to write about; anyone will do, he More


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Talking Points: This book has many discussion worthy threads. Joes mother is an alcoholic with bi polar disorder, which makes for dysfunctional family relationships. Joe also carries a lot of guilt about his mother and his autistic brother. He struggles with what loyalty to family means and his role as both brother and son as he moves towards breaking the childhood shackles. Joe also learns to forgive himself.

PBR Review: I picked up Katarina Bivald's debut novel because I was looking for a light read. The kind of book that provides an escape. Bam! A few pages in and I'm transported to the small midwestern town of Broken Wheel. It's a feel good More


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Talking Points: This story is about the love of reading and how books can impact people's lives. The cast of characters in this small Iowa town is delightful. What better place to discuss a book about books than a with your Book Club.

PBR Review: We all know life can change in a split second and alter the trajectory of our lives. In the book Faithfull, Alice Hoffman tells the gut wrenching story of Shelby Richmond. She is the driver of the car involved in a terrible accid More


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Talking Points: This book is an emotional story and would spur a lively discussion with your book group. It shows the power of guilt and how that can lead to self punishment. The journey back is a very hard road and involves the love of many people.

PBR Review: This is a story of survival and how the effects of severe dust storms and drought affect an individual family and a community of farmers at large. The character development is excellent; the author brings the reader straight int More


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Talking Points: Depression era novels always generate lots of conversation. There is just so much to discuss when it comes to poverty, sacrifice, real life struggles and the human condition that keeps hoping and pushing forward. It is interesting to note the different coping methods each member of the family has and the strong religious beliefs which at times is the glue holding everyone together. How the hardship touches women will also spark some conversation. There have been many comparisons to John Steinbecks Grapes of Wrath, it might be interesting to compare the two in a general or specific way if anyone has read both, the opinions on this seem to be polarizing.

PBR Review: Relationships can be complicated, especially when it comes to family. Whiskey and Charlie are brothers, identical twins, from the outside you canít tell them apart, but inside each is unique. As Charlie and Whiskey grow, the gap More


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Talking Points: This book will resonate with anyone who has had to deal with family strife. There is plenty of sibling rivalry and complicated relationships woven into this story. Aside from the obvious one between the two brothers, the book deals with adoption and extended family issues. It also opens the door to discussions about families dealing with loved ones in a coma and life support. It is a character driven novel and as Charlie wrestles with his emotions he also gains more self awareness and becomes a better person, It is heartwarming.

PBR Review: This book opens the discussion on a little know practice of the mid 19th century. Many orphaned children were packed into trains and transported to the mid west; where they were put on display for the locals to adopt. Sadly, fam More


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Talking Points: Obviously the foster care system of the 1900s and that of today will come up. Although better, todays system is still flawed. The treatment these children received by the loving families that took them in is another hot talking point, as is the flawed practice that transports the orphans to the mid west. There is plenty to discuss about the relationship between Molly and Vivian, how and why their friendship develops and how each helps the other. Molly is also a case study in abandonment and growing up in Foster care. She is untrusting and hardened.

PBR Review: I always love it when a story has it's roots in truth and this is just such a story. It's told primarily from the viewpoint of Joe Rantz, one of the nine men from The University of Washington's rowing team, competing in the 1936 More


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Talking Points: There are many different levels to this story. The underdogs fighting for the Gold against Ivy League schools. The dedication and team work necessary to achieve their goal of winning an Olympic Gold Medal. This is a story of perseverance, with strong focus on one man in particular, who was impacted greatly by the depression, abandoned by his parents. It takes place on the cusp of World War II with Hitler striving to show off German superiority, in hindsight a forshadowing of things to come.

PBR Review: Narrated by the sweet young voice of Dixie Dupree, this book captures the small town Alabama life of a dysfunctional family in 1969. Dixieís father drinks, her mother has a hair trigger temper, money is tight, her support system More


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Talking Points: Dixie Dupree, an 11 year old with an idyllic voice and a heart full of passion, narrates this book. But dig a little into her life and you find many forms of child abuse. Why is it that parental love is sometimes not enough to stop or prevent child abuse? There is also a lot of insight into how a child rationalizes what is happening and caregivers often do not have the presence of mind to notice, thus the abuse continues. What role does poverty play in Dixies troubles?

PBR Review: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes is a moving and thought-provoking story. It has two female protagonists who tell their story. Sophie lives in a small French village occupied by the Germans in 1916. Her husband has go More


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Talking Points: The story portrays women who are judged by society for the decisions they make. It's emotionally charged and asks many questions that do not have clear answers. This book will provide a lively discussion.

PBR Review: This is a beautiful cultural read about two Afghanistan women Shekiba and Rahima, one the great ,great grandmother and a source of inspiration for the other. The story sheds light on the sad reality that not much has changed in More


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Talking Points: The whole concept of bacha posh is fascinating and sure to strike cords with everyone. Dressed as a boy, a girl is allowed out of the house without escort and becomes a boy in every respect. She is afforded the same courtesies and respect as a man, like being waited on, being served first and being able to bark commands to the females of the house. Women living under this regime are strong. But I also cannot help but wonder, why it continues to exist. Our country has also throughout history has and continues to attempt to suppress human rights, but people inevitably rise up and fight for what is right. What is it about cultures like this that prevents this?

PBR Review: Although THE RENT COLLECTOR is fiction, the inspiration for this book is the documentary film RIVER OF VICTORY. The story is set in Cambodia just after the decline of the Khmer Rouge regime. The two main characters, Sang Ly and More


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Talking Points: The resounding message throughout this book is one of hope and at the same time disbelief, that people could live in such horrible conditions. I loved that the main character, living in a dump with untold challenges, wants to learn to read. There are many lessons to be learned and the book is full of inspiration; sure to generate lots of healthy conversation. When you come to the final chapter and close this book, you will appreciate many things you took for granted.

PBR Review: In quick order, Gilly Macmillan presents a compelling scenario and shortly after the reader will start to feel like reading throughout the night. The story revolves around a missing child and is told from the perspective of the More


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Talking Points: The quick to judge social media and press and the pressure they create, strangers passing judgment without really knowing al the facts. The guilt and blame that comes with a child in harms way, which of course impacts not just immediate family, but the community at large. Can anyone close to this type of situation come out on the other side without scars? Can a Good parent lose their child? At what age should children be given more freedom? Life can change all to quickly.

PBR Review: As usual, Jodi Picoult likes to write books about current topics. And in the past several years, the treatment of animals has become a hot one. In this book, she tells the story of the majestic elephants. She demonstrates how t More


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Talking Points: This story is an emotional read on several fronts. It's has a complicated mother daughter relationship. It's a love story. And it dwells quite a bit on the topic of grief, providing many opportunities for discussion.

PBR Review: Historical Fiction fans are going to love this emotionally charged story of the Chinese American struggles and the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act in Seattle; I certainly did. Prior to reading this book I was unaware of this blemish More


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Talking Points: History does repeat itself and Human nature does have a dark side. Mei Leins story really resonates with our current immigration issues and gives pause with respect to our ability to change but also to human resilience and the ability to forgive. There are also strong family themes. It also brings into question modern and historical values.

PBR Review: Don't miss this one! THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, a debut novel by Paula Hawkins, is fascinating. This mystery has three different narrators with distinct and clear voices. The story revolves around secrets, alcohol, cheating and ly More


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Talking Points: This story is a psychological thriller and will get into your head. The flawed characters and the decisions they make will provide endless topics to discuss. Three different voices tell the story leaving plenty of room for interpretation.

PBR Review: I listened to THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME: A Novel of the Titanic (P.S.) on audio. It's an excellent read and the winner of 2015 Romantic Novelistsí Association award. I don't usually read or listen to romance novels, so this was More


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Talking Points: There is a lot of information on the sinking of the Titanic. But, this story brings a unique and personal side to the conversation. What the characters experience onboard the ship is palpable and discussion worthy. The aftermath of surviving such a tragedy is even more so.

PBR Review: With varying degrees, everyone was touched by the events of the 911 terror attack. I live miles away from ground zero but can still remember the burning sensation in my throat and the eerie silence that descended upon the city as More


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Talking Points: People handle loss differently, but at the same time there is a common thread. Lives can be changed in an instant and feeling normal again is a hard and difficult personal journey. This is a story of 2 fires, with 2 very different causes but the end result is the same on a lot of levels. There is also a thread on fate and the feelings associated with it.

PBR Review: A story of four siblings planning their lives around a trust fund set up by their late father. Everyone is anxiously waiting for the youngest to turn 40 years old so the funds can be paid out. The "Nest" - initially More


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Talking Points: This book emphasizes the popular bumper sticker that says YOUR CHOICES MATTER. It defines how the impact of bad choices can be life long. It is a story of acceptance and reconciliation, living not just with bad choices, but bad choices someone else made that could not be undone. Throughout the story are threads of addiction, gay marriage, excesses of the rich, low self esteem and self absorbed dysfunctional personalities. A fabulous light read, good for travel or the beach but rich in conflict.

PBR Review: Ordinary Grace is fabulous a book, one I didnít want to end. I think it was the beautifully developed characters, so believable and real that grabbed me. Or maybe it was the 1960ís setting vividly depicted and perfectly capture More


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Talking Points: The themes running through this book touch upon the everyday emotions of love loss and forgiveness. Franks father is a preacher so morality and faith in God play big in this book. But Kreuger goes deeper and also writes about the more volatile emotions of prejudice, insecurity loss of innocence and evil.

PBR Review: THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR by Helen Simonson is one the best book I've listened to in a while! I agree with the Washington Post when it says, " It's your cure to Downton Abby Withdrawl." I couldn't stop listening to t More


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Talking Points: Several threads run through this love story, which will provide excellent topics for lively discussions. The suffragette movement along with social class and family honor are active components of the story and will give your Book Club a lot to debate!
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