Friday, 28 November 2014

The Book Thief - Questions


Sorry this is incredibly late coming to you. Here are some questions about this months book club that you might like to consider while finishing your copy of the book:

-    Abandonment is a central theme in the novel. The reader knows that Liesel feels abandoned by her mother and by the death of her brother. How does she equate love with abandonment? At what point does she understand why she was abandoned by her mother? Who else abandons Liesel in the novel? Decide whether she was abandoned by circumstance or by the heart.
-    Guilt is another recurring theme in the novel. Hans Hubermann’s life was spared in France during World War I, and Erik Vandenburg’s life was taken. Explain why Hans feels guilty about Erik’s death. Guilt is a powerful emotion that may cause a person to become unhappy and despondent. Discuss how Hans channels his guilt into helping others. Explain Max Vandenburg’s thought, “Living was living. The price was guilt and shame.” (p. 208) Why does he feel guilt and shame?
-    The Grave Digger’s Handbook is the first book Liesel steals. Why did she take the book? What is significant about the titles of the books she steals? Discuss why she hides The Grave Digger’s Handbook under her mattress. Describe Hans Hubermann’s reaction when he discovers the book. What does the act of book thievery teach Liesel about life and death? Explain Rudy’s reaction when he discovers that Liesel is a book thief. How does stealing books from the mayor’s house lead to a friendship with the mayor’s wife? Explain how Liesel’s own attempt to write a book saves her life.

Live To Tell

Everyone had finished the book and most people said they would like to read more by Lisa Gardner.

One thing that caused some confusion was the use of multiple different voices, each voice then having a chapter before the next voice came back. Some people felt that this was confusing as they weren't sure who was who and also how each of the voices linked to the others. It also took a little while to get used to each of the voices when starting each chapter.

 We felt that it was very interesting given that it was based on the story of a young boy who has these same mental health issues as the children in the book. This brought it home that this could have happened to any one of our families. We wondered how we would cope with it, would we have been like the mother who was determined to look after her son due to the guilt she felt that she had caused his problems. Or would we have been like the father who left his wife and son to take his daughter to a safer place for her sake.

Interestingly the real child this story is based on was actually healed by a spiritual healer who used similar techniques to the healer in the book. At first this sounds unbelievable but when you look at the methods used they are basically cognitive behavioural therapies to do with breathing techniques, thinking positive etc. We also really loved the centre that the children were housed in, although we felt that it probably couldn't really exist in real life as it would be really expensive to run and some of the kids there had little or no funds behind them. It was also odd to have the unit on a top floor in a general hospital rather than in a separate unit maybe within the grounds of the hospital given the tendencies of the kids towards violent behaviour.

We were a little annoyed by the main character of D.D. as she seemed to be able to eat everything she wanted and still stayed skinny, this grated on the book club possibly as most of us are women and know that this just does not happen in real life.

The ending of the story felt a little bit rushed to us, and some elements were a little weird and far-fetched.

 Overall we gave this book 7.5 out of 10.

Book Selections December 2014 - April 2015

Hello everyone,

Thanks for your votes on the next few months worth of books.
Here are the results:

December – The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

January – The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith

February – The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson

March – Cleopatra – Stacy Schiff

April – The Girl With All The Gifts – M. R. Carey

I’ve tried to make sure the size of the book corresponds to the length of the month so we’re reading shorter books in the shorter months.

Don’t forget that Novembers book is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak! Hope to see you all then.

Live To Tell - Questions


Here are some bits of information about this months book club. There are spoilers on this website so please do not read it unless you’ve finished this months book. On this website is a synopsis, some questions, some information on the true life background to the story, along with a playlist of music the author listened to while writing the book:

I found it very interesting and i hope you will too.

What Alice Forgot

Everyone who attended this months book club had completed the book! We felt that the book was quite realistic with people arguing and not getting along well, rather than it being filled with hearts and flowers.

We discussed whether we felt that divorce was catching, that when one of your close friends of family gets divorced you start to look at your own life and your current partner and wonder whether you made the right choice. Then when your divorced friends/family seem to be having more fun being single and dating you may again look at your partner and wonder if you could have done better. It does seem that this happened in this book, feelings of dissatisfaction occurred after Gina and her husband separated.

The fact that the time that Alice lost included time halfway through her pregnancy meant that she almost felt that she had suffered the loss of her baby. It was as if she mourned this lost child and she couldn't connect that pregnancy bump with the 10 year old daughter she had. It took her a long time to come to terms with the fact that she had three children none of whom she now knew at all.

It was interesting to see how everyone coped with the Gina issue as she seemed to have irritated everyone apart from Alice who she became weirdly close to over a very short period of time. It seemed that Gina became a sort of cuckoo, pushing out Alice's husband and her sister to take up all of Alice's time and energy. This created some issues when it came to what happened to Gina during the period of time that Alice has lost. We felt that there was a lot of wind-up to finding out what had happened to Gina, with Alice finding out lots of things and remembering bits of other things and also not letting on that she didn't have her complete memory back. However, when you actually find out what happened we felt it wasn't as interesting as we had suspected.

We enjoyed the underlying message that you can change your life at any point. If you find yourself getting a bit too manipulative as Alice did you can become more caring again. Maybe you wouldn't choose to have such a dramatic accident in order to change but it is possible. It also seemed that once Alice had changed those around her also changed becoming nicer towards Alice and each other.

It was interesting to find out about the different characters as we went through the book just as Alice was being reintroduced to them as well. A lot of the characters came across as really mean and nasty to start but once we discovered their history it became understandable, and they then changed into nicer characters as Alice had a positive effect on them.

The ending we felt was a bit of a cop-out, it felt that she had actually written two endings and rather than chose she had one ending, then wrote another one 10 years in the future that was completely different. We would have preferred that the author picked only one ending and stuck with it. The ending for the sisters was especially cliched and slightly irritating we found

Overall we gave this book 7 out of 10.