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August 6, 2010


Posted by Dana

In today's post, regular contributor Heather Johnson (Storie delle Sorelle Book Club Blog) shares her book club's experience with another interesting book.  She makes the point that whether you like the book or not, some books just lend themselves to book club discussions.  Lots to talk about and analyze and respond to and I have to admit, the premise for this one intrigues me enough to want to read it, even it turns out to not be my favorite!  

One-Amazing-Thing-9781401340995.jpgImagine this: You are in the basement level of a huge building in a small suite of offices.  Including the employees, there are about 10 other people in the room with you.  Suddenly the ground beneath you isn’t solid anymore - it’s an earthquake! People are screaming, the lights are flickering, and there is an enormous crashing sound coming from above you.  After a few minutes you find yourself trapped in that basement, sharing the small space with absolute strangers.  After trying every way possible to escape, you realize that there is little to do but wait to be rescued … and talk.

That is the premise of ONE AMAZING THING, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, my book club’s pick for July.  In the novel each character is encouraged to share something amazing from his or her life as a way to pass the time. Every story is different and every story brings out a part of the character not visible on the surface.

Four of us sat at an outdoor restaurant in the late evening heat sipping margaritas and putting ourselves into the characters’ shoes.  Books like this where you delve into the heart of a wide variety of characters are great for club discussions.  What would WE have done in that situation? What story would WE have shared?  And was each story truly “amazing” or were they more about the defining moments in the character’s lives?

The author stated in an interview that seeing the reactions people had to the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001 and to Hurricane’s Ike and Rita made her think. She wanted to explore through her writing why some people become heroic in emergencies while others freeze and still others become violent.  We discussed this topic and considered whether the book gave us any insights into the “why” behind people’s responses to emergencies.

This book caused mixed reactions from the members at the meeting and those who couldn’t make it.  Some said they really liked it, some liked parts of it, others were disappointed with it. It was an excellent book to read with our club though because it gave us a great deal to discuss.

-- Heather Johnson, Regular Contributor