Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls, by Julie Schumacher (book review) – literature, swimming pool, awkwardness

book cover of The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher published by Delacorte

Summer in the suburbs.
If you can get away, you’re gone…
these four girls are stuck in the sweltering, sticky heat
and in a book club together – with their mothers!

Mother-daughter book clubs can be a great opportunity for discussions, intellectual sharing, and true personal growth. But not this one, with its highly incompatible members, brought together solely by the AP English reading list and the moms recognizing one another from yoga class.

Lots of zany antics (usually instigated by CeeCee) between their encounter with each book (interesting insights there). The 19th century works are in the public domain, so you can read them online free; you can find print copies of all the books that Jill, Wallis, CeeCee, Adrienne and their moms discuss at your local library or independent bookstore of course.

“The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Gilman. Free download at Project Gutenberg.
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. Read online free at Project Gutenberg.
The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin. Author’s website with some excerpts.
The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros. Author interview on its 25th anniversary.
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. Read online free at UNC Library of Southern Literature.

Book info: The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls / Julie Schumacher. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2012.  [author’s website]   [publisher website]

My Book Talk:  One slip on the stairs, and her summer plans for adventure turn into a knee brace, rehab exercises, and required reading for senior English class. Adrienne couldn’t know that summer would also include midnight escapes, unlicensed drivers, epic chaos, and a dead body in the town swimming pool!

Isn’t it bad enough that Adrienne has to miss her long-planned canoe trek with best friend Liz this summer? Now her mom has gotten them into a mother-daughter book club in their dead-end boring suburb. Honestly, just because the moms take yoga class together doesn’t guarantee a compatible group for literature discussions…

Popular and pretty CeeCee is high school society-plus (her trip to France cancelled because she totaled another car), Jill works at the swimming pool snack stand, and Wallis is… Wallis – in their grade, but younger, recently moved to West New Hope with her mom (who is writing a scholarly philosophy book). The girls groan about having to write an essay over their summer reading. Such a strange bunch of characters in this book club, especially when you factor in the mothers, including Wallis’s mom, whom no one has ever met and who never comes to the mother-daughter book club meetings.

Meeting at Jill’s house to discuss “The Yellow Wallpaper” short story, the group chooses four books from the Advanced Placement reading list: Frankenstein, The Left Hand of Darkness, The House on Mango Street, and The Awakening. The girls see each other often at the pool (where else is there to go in their town in the summer?) and finally decide that “The Unbearable Book Club” describes this weird summer thing with the moms exactly.

CeeCee decides that Adrienne needs to get out of the house more, so she shows up at midnight for a road trip, and that’s just the beginning of the craziness. The summer heat rises, Adrienne’s mom has few answers for her questions about the father she’s never known, Wallis repeatedly appears for book club without her mother, then zips back to the woods where they live.

Is Adrienne going to let CeeCee run her summer?
Will Adrienne’s knee ever heal?
Does Wallis really have a mother?
What’s it like to play mini-golf at midnight in the rain?

Each chapter is headed by a literary term with Adrienne’s witty definition, as the girls’ discussions of each book underscore the tensions and dreams in their own lives. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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