Behind the Book: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Our May/June 2020 HPB Book Club Pick is Ask Again, Yes, by New York Times bestselling author Mary Beth Keane. Ask Again, Yes is a profoundly moving story about two neighboring families, the friendship between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades and the power of forgiveness. Mary Beth Keane provides us with a closer look at the inspiration behind her latest novel below!

Ask Again, Yes pb by Mary Beth Keane

What made you want to write about these two families and the far-reaching consequences of shared trauma?

I didn’t know it would be about two families, or really anything at all about the shape of the book or the themes it would bring in until I was well into a draft. I usually start with a character, usually in motion, and I saw Peter pretty fully before I started writing. Continue reading

Behind the Book: The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Our March/April 2020 Book Club Pick is The Island of Sea Women, by New York Times bestselling author Lisa See. Few books can be called upon to so beautifully span decades and to delicately detail the relationship between two women who are inextricably linked. Lisa See provides us wiith a glimpse into the inspiration behind her latest novel  below.

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What made you want to write about haenyeo, Korean sea divers?
In many ways I feel that the haenyeo called to me. I was sitting in my doctor’s waiting room, leafing through magazines, when I came across a tiny article—just one paragraph and one small photo—about these remarkable women. I ripped it out of the magazine and took it home. I hung onto the article for eight years before I decided that now was the time to write about the haenyeo. They have a matrifocal society—a society focused on women. Historically, they were known to have the greatest ability of any human group on earth to withstand cold water. They hold their breath for two minutes and dive down sixty feet (deep enough to get the bends) to harvest seafood. They are the breadwinners in their families, while their husbands take care the children and do the cooking. In the past, women would retire at age fifty-five. Today, the youngest haenyeo is fifty-five. I was and am amazed by their bravery and persistence, as well as the camaraderie—sisterhood—that they share with each other. About five years ago, UNESCO gave the haenyeo the designation of an Intangible World Heritage Tradition and estimated the culture would be gone in about fifteen years. I felt I couldn’t wait five, ten, or fifteen years to interview women who were in their seventies, eighties, and nineties. Continue reading

Behind the Book: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

We are thrilled to introduce our August/September 2019 HPB Book Club Selection, Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center. This book addresses the struggles of Cassie Hanwell, a woman born for emergencies who uproots her life to move from Texas to Boston, where she struggles to find her place as one of the only female firefighters in the state. This heartfelt, stirring novel touches on two of the most important things in life— love and the meaning of courage. In this installment of our Behind the Book blog series, Katherine Center gives us insight into her inspiration and decision to tell Cassie’s story.

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Behind the Book: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Beautifully, exquisitely wrought, When We Left Cuba is everything you could ask for from a historical novel, and it’s our HPB Book Club pick for April and May 2019. Chanel Cleeton will break hearts with this tale of a privileged Cuban refugee and the powers and people that change her life. Full of love, revenge and deadly situations, When We Left Cuba will leave your heart racing and your mind transported. Chanel  provided us with an in-depth look into her protagonist, Beatriz, for our Behind the Book series. Continue reading

If You Liked Maid, You May Also Like…

If you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading (or perhaps just finished) Maid, by Stephanie Land, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Putting her dreams of college on hold to have a child, Land finds herself homeless and alone. Navigating government assistance and trying to find a way to provide for her daughter, she starts working for a cleaning service. As a maid, Land witnesses the lives of others while feeling invisible herself. This autobiography of Land’s struggle to provide a better life for her daughter, exposes the struggle of the working poor who long to find the American dream while living below the poverty line.

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If you (like me) liked Maid, here are a few other books you may like: Continue reading

If You Liked Good Luck With That, You May Also Like…

If you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading (or perhaps just finished) Good Luck With That, by Kristan Higgins, a wonderful, heartwarming story about learning how to love and respect yourself no matter what you look like. The main characters, Georgia, Marley and Emerson, are highly relatable to anyone who has ever had issues with their body image. After meeting at a weight-loss camp for teens, these three girls become life-long friends, but when Emerson passes away as a result of her weight, she challenges Georgia and Marley to do all the things they promised each other they would do when they lost their weight. Now, as adults, Georgia and Marley try to honor their friend’s last wish, by getting a piggy-back ride from a guy, getting a stranger to buy them a drink and telling off people who were mean to them when they were fat. Though Higgins weaves romance into her book, the main focus is how these two women learn to love themselves.

If you (like me) liked Good Luck With That, here are a few other books you may like:

Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy- movie coming to Netflix!dumplin Continue reading

If You Liked A Place for Us, You Might Also Like…

A Place for Us 2.jpgIf you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading (or perhaps just finished) A Place for Us, by Fatima Farheen Mirza, a heartbreaking story of family, identity and belonging. As all the members of an Indian-America Muslim family gather to celebrate the eldest daughter’s wedding, each family member looks back at crucial moments in their past as the three children have searched for the place they belong in the world, in their culture, in their faith and in their family. Mirza goes back and forth in time and from one perspective to another, letting the reader see the thoughts and feelings behind every circumstance and every consequence, showing how without understanding, even acts of love can turn into acts of betrayal. A Place for Us is the first title published under Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth.

If you liked A Place for Us, here are a few other books you might like:

 

All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin, I’ll Be Your Blue Sky, by Marisa de los Santos, How Hard, Can it Be, by Allison Pearson, Stay with Me, by Ayobami Adebayo, An American Mariage, by Tayari Jones

 

Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward, Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng, What We Lose, by Zinzi Clemmons, Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate, What We Were Promised, by Lucy Tan (coming out July 10, 2018)

So, what’s your next read?

Check out what we’re reading next. Join the HPB Book Club.

If You Liked Wonder, You Might Also Like…

If you’re part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading (or perhaps just finished) Wonder by R.J. Palacio, a touching middle-grade novel about Auggie Pullman, a young boy with a rare medical facial deformity as he struggles through his first year at a mainstream school. The kids that are kind enough to look past Auggie’s strange appearance discover a smart, funny kid who  is so much more than what he looks like. Palacio explores Auggie’s story from different points of view so that you learn not just how Auggie feels about a situation, but also his family and his friends. Through Wonder, Palacio weaves a tale of courage and kindness that sparked the Choose Kind Movement, where classrooms fight against bullying by signing a pledge to Choose Kind.

If you liked, Wonder, here are a few other books you might like.

Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine • Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli • Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper • Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan • Absolutely Almost, by Lisa Graff • Firegirl, by Tony Abbott • Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt • Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, by Jack Gantos • Lost in the Sun, by Lisa Graff • A Dog Called Homeless, by Sarah Lean • Because of Mr. Terupt, by Rob Buyea

Since one of my favorite things about Wonder was how the story was told through different perspectives, I think I’ll head to my local HPB to pick up a copy of Because of Mr. Terupt, as its story is also told through varying points-of-view. What will be your next read?

What to get in on the conversation? Join the HPB Book Club at hpb.com/bookclub.

If You Liked The Girls, You Might Also Like…

If you are part of the HPB Book Club, you are currently reading or perhaps just finished The Girls by Emma Cline, a clever, yet disturbing coming-of-age novel inspired by the murders committed by Charles Manson’s followers in 1969. In the novel, a strange encounter with an ex-boyfriend’s son leaves Evie Boyd looking back to the summer of 1969, the summer she met “the girls.” Told though multiple flashbacks, Cline describes how Evie obsession with one of “the girls” draws her into a cult and ultimately to one night of unthinkable violence. Cline’s spellbinding prose and psychological insight make this book hard to put down. If you also liked The Girls, here are a few other books you might like.

Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson • Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman • How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda • Modern Lovers by Emma Straub • Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

So, what’s your next read? Join the HPB Book Club at hpb.com/bookclub.

Julie is Traffic Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.