Summer Reading and More: The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls
A few months back we had the opportunity to feature a guest post from author Julie Schumacher, where she discussed the books that resided “on her bookshelf”. You can check it out here. At that time, we introduced Julie’s most recent YA novel with Random House, a rep favorite, called The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls, which went on sale earlier this summer, and has since become adored by readers all over.
The story is narrated by teenager Adrienne Haus, during the summer before her junior year of high school in Delaware. Wanting her to get all of her summer-reading assignments finished, Adrienne’s mom coerces her into joining a mother-daughter book club with three other mother/daughter pairs. What ensues is a comic, yet poignant story about four very different girls, their mothers (and in one case absent mother), and the five classic novels that shape their way of thinking during a summer of massive transition. Each story that is read during the book club, along with various literary terms, are used to frame Adrienne’s narration (what you later learn is her summer AP English Personal Essay). This essay subtly integrates the themes that the girls, most importantly Adrienne, touch on that summer including: feminism (The Yellow Wallpaper), peer pressure and absent parenting (Frankenstein), sex (The Left Hand of Darkness, The Awakening), race and class (The House on Mango Street). I seriously could not put this book down. I thought it was incredibly clever and extremely genuine, and a fantastic nod to the most natural thing that a book can provide—an avenue in which to make sense of our own lives.
Reading this encouraged me to remember the novels that I read, which helped guide me through the years of teenage adolescence. The Unbearable Book Club provides great examples of the titles that I was asked to read in high school, and whether or not I can remember if they affected me in the moment as much as they did for Adrienne, I know that they definitely shaped who I am today. After all, I was never trapped on an island with my peers (Lord of the Flies), or in attendance at a rebellious party on Long Island during the height of prohibition (The Great Gatsby). But I knew a little bit (as most teenagers do) about what it meant to struggle to keep ones individuality, to oppose the temptation of peer pressure and groupthink, and to pursue your dreams, while also recognizing the importance of realistic expectations. And having something by which to compare these experiences truly helped along the way. I think the best example for me was STARGIRL, which taught me the importance of staying true to myself. I didn’t play a Ukulele like Stargirl, but I was definitely grateful for that story in 8th grade when I read it.
So today we honor this special book, and its celebration of literature: it’s comfort, it’s stimuli and it’s entertainment. We’re asking you to comment and share the books that did for you what they did for these girls in the Unbearable Book Club! -Bobbie
Many thanks to Bobbie for this lovely review of The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls, we hope this gives you some ideas to add to your own reading list too.
Please share your thoughts in our comments section.