Kristin Walker's "A Match Made in High School" sparked a great discussion for this mothers and daughters book group.
by Cindy Hudson
Eight years ago, two best friends and their 9-year-old daughters-who were also best friends-started a mother/daughter book group. Joined by other mothers and daughters, the girls are now juniors in high school.
What book recently sparked a great discussion?
"A Match Made in High School" by Kristin Walker. The book explores what happens when high school students "marry" each other for a class to learn about relationships. We talked about all kinds of issues relevant to high school girls like: What qualities do you appreciate in a friend? How do the assumptions we make about other people affect the way we act towards them? If you were forced to spend time with someone you didn't like, how do you think you would handle the situation? What do you think the characters learned from each other? What valuable relationship issues did the kids learn about by participating in the class?
We didn't all agree about the book and that led to a good discussion. Some thought the sarcastic humor and mean tricks the main characters exchanged were funny and revealing. Some didn't like the sarcasm or mean tricks.
What book would your group most recommend to other readers?
"A Mango-Shaped Space" by Wendy Mass. It was interesting to learn about synesthesia, a condition in which the main character, Mia, sees numbers, letters, words and sounds in a distinct array of colors. It was a beautifully written story about friendship and family.
What questions have you discovered that incite the best discussion?
We had rich conversation about minor and major characters, the roles they played in the story, and how they resonated with us.
We also ask: What do you think happens in the story after the book ends?
What makes your group work?
Flexibility. We got started when our daughters were in fourth grade and had little outside of school to distract them. Now, between homework, after-school activities and part-time jobs, they don't have a lot of free time. We've reduced the number of books we read every year and we stay connected with get-togethers that are just for fun between book discussions.
What tips could you share with other groups?
Adapt as circumstances change. To keep things fresh, mix up your normal meeting routine every now and then. You could read a book, then see a movie adapted from it. You could meet somewhere related to what you read about, like an ethnic restaurant serving food from the country a novel is set in or a museum featuring something relevant to the book. You could also see if the author is available to meet with your group in person or by Skype.
How often do you meet? Where?
We meet about every six weeks. We've met in homes and recently have had fun meeting at restaurants. It's hard to beat discussing a book over a burger, fries and a chocolate milkshake.
Who are your group's favorite authors?
Sharon Creech, Shannon Hale, Zlata Filipovic, Gennifer Choldenko, Kate DiCamillo, Roald Dahl and Frank Cottrell Boyce.
-Cindy Hudson is the author of "Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs" (Seal Press), MotherDaughterBookClub.com