April Book Club: Americans in Space by Mary E. Mitchell

Hello readers, both of books and my blog! I’m sorry the post for this months book club is a little on the late side. If you read the book with me, you might understand why it took me a little longer to finish. Anyways, on with the discussion! Remember this isn’t a review, and I will be blatantly discussing the plot. This is your only spoiler warning.

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This book is really sad. Like, really really sad. It’s one of the more depressing books I’ve ever read. Kate’s entire character is extremely depressing to read. And I don’t find it to be an empathetic, I relate to this character and am rooting for them kind of depressing. It’s just a “when will this end?” sort of depressing. Her husband is dead, her daughter is acting out, her best friend is more like her mom, etc, etc. And she doesn’t exactly tackle her problems…at all. She refuses to communicate with either of her children, preferring instead to have internal monologues about how much she sucks. It just got boring really fast when Charlotte would do something crazy and Kate would just think about how unacceptable it was and not do anything about it.

I also found the book to be a little predictable. For example, I knew as soon as they introduced Phoenix that she was going to kill herself. They didn’t even wait, they just did it because she was a plot point and that’s it. It seems extremely unfair to me. It was just another thing to pile onto Kate’s already over burdened mental state. I don’t like how they seems to brush it off as well. When a student commits suicide, it is an all consuming event that changes the whole atmosphere of the school for weeks. Even students that are unfamiliar with the victim feel disturbed just because it’s such a shocking loss for young people to face. While they didn’t stop mentioning it, or try to completely move on, I just don’t think they did it justice.

More to that, I don’t think they did teenagers justice. I’ve never read more two-dimensional characters in my life! And I feel like the author didn’t mean to write them so poorly. I feel like she tried to get deep with all the kids in the support group by introducing characters of different ethnicity and backgrounds. But instead she just got a middle-of-the-road Latinx stereotypes and some sad kids. The number one thing that drove me crazy was how every sentence Charlotte said had the world “like” in it about twelve times. Full disclosure, I talked similarly when I was in high school, but the ways the author would use it did not make any sense. It was clear she was just using them because that’s how those crazy kids talk.

I also absolutely hate Kate from the moment she laid a hand on her daughter. I don’t care how smart of a mouth she had, I don’t how irresponsible she is, I don’t care. I just don’t care. You don’t slap your child. I feel like books and movies always show a parent slapping their child as this big climactic moment that signifies the height of their negative relationship, and after that the parent realizes something, and the healing begins. That is just not accurate to how actual abuse works and it’s a ridiculous thing to normalize. You hit a child, you’re a cowardly garbage bag of a person. End of story.

All in all, I didn’t like this book very much. I didn’t find the characters relatable, the plot was only depressing, and I just found it dull. But what do you guys think? I have a couple discussion questions if you’re not sure where to begin with your thoughts. They are definitely not mandatory to comment!

Discussion Questions:

Do you relate more to Charlotte or Kate? Why?

What do you think of Kyle? Do you think he was alive, everything would be as normal as Kate implies?

April Book Club:

The Eliot Girls

by Krista Bridge

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For years, Audrey Brindle has dreamed of attending George Eliot Academy, the school where her mother, Ruth, has taught for a decade. But when she is finally admitted, she discovers a place of sly bullying, ferocious intolerance, and bewildering social standards. Ruth, meanwhile, finds her world upended by her attraction to a new teacher, and the ambitions and desires of both mother and daughter find themselves on a collision course. An acutely observed exploration of betrayal, cruelty, and fallen idols, The Eliot Girls deftly explores the intimacies and injustices of privileged female adolescence and the relationship of a mother and daughter for whom life will never be the same.

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