Sunday, May 9, 2010

April – Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River

To start, who is this slacker-type who writes these blog posts so late? Well I can tell you one thing about that young lady…she's great! I mean, sure. She's a bit slow. She has strange hair, weirder opinions, and the mentality of a 14-year old, but she does get them up eventually, doesn't she?

In April, the Third Tuesday Book Club met and discussed Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River. This book was Darline's pick. She'd read it years ago and remembered loving it. But upon re-reading it in anticipation for our meeting she thought, "Uh-oh. I'm not sure about this. It's a bit plotty." If by plotty Dar meant sloooooow, then yep. Plotty it is.

I remember telling Lynn that every time I opened this book, my soul hurt. I didn't mean that it ached for main character Trudi. I meant that it hurt. Each word, each sentence, each paragraph, raked at my reader's soul.

However, to qualify the above statements, I would like to make very clear that some members of the Third Tuesday Book Club really, thoroughly enjoyed this book. (*cough* Sue!) Revolving around Trudi, a dwarf coming of age in Germany during World War Two, this book told the tales of people living in a village that each harboured their own differences. From Trudi's mad mother to her friend George whose mother dresses him as a girl, Trudi learns that everyone is different, just sometimes not as outwardly as she.

As always, when I haven't finished the book (*ahem*), I try to create a post based on the notes taken during the meeting. So, here goes my attempt. As the theme goes with many war-era books, the subject of sympathy vs. survival is prevalent. Trudi's father is quoted as saying that he "fears for the people of Germany, and their need for one, strong leader." Trudi's father, having been on the front lines during World War One, knew that Germany's allegiance to their leader would be their downfall. The "Hitler is my leader," mentality just didn't fly with Trudi's dad—a sympathizer who hide Jews in his basement. And yet, as far as the sympathy v. survivalism goes, this argument came up often in this novel. In essence, it's difficult to say what you would do, until you are in the situation. Please note that this paragraph only contains a description of the conversation and the topics that we pondered during our discussion. I'm not trying to be controversial, so don't blast me in the comments, okay?

We also discussed Hegi's ability to build her characters, which she did rather nicely. Each character really develops throughout the novel—most notably, Trudi. Trudi, while at times self-destructive, is strong, and her characters serves as an inspiration to the others around her.

Lastly, Helen poignantly brought up that genocide is not exclusive to World War Two. It happens too often, too recently, and it is all too much of a reality in world, and during a time, when it should be abhorred.

Tune in next month, when we will actually be continuing this conversation after reading Tatiana DeRosnay's Sarah's Key—a novel about another young girl whose Jewish family is arrested by the French police, who were acting on the orders of German nazis.

We're meeting this month on May 18, at The Usual Spot, at 7:30. We will be discussing Tatiana DeRosnay's Sarah's Key.

Vanessa will be late, as Logan has his first soccer game! Yea! Jeanette probably won't be there if her beloved Pens are playing, but I'm sure they'll have been ousted from the playoffs by then anyways. (*I kid! I kid! Don't hurt me!*)

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