By December 29, 2008 1 Comments Read More →

Anywhere and Here

My friends in book groups always ask me for something thought-provoking, contemporary, and discussable. The next time I’m prodded for a suggestion for a group that wants a story that will keep conversation flowing and offer a quick pace, I will be suggesting Anita Shreve’s latest novel, Testimony.

Anita Shreve had been a book group favorite long before Oprah anointed her one by testimonychoosing The Pilot’s Wife in 1999. Reading groups who have not enjoyed one of Shreve’s eloquently written and pain-stakingly researched novels are in for a treat. Almost any one of Shreve’s titles would work well in a book group setting.

Testimony takes a harrowingly familiar situation and examinations it from many viewpoints and angles, the participants, the innocent and guilty bystanders, the peripheral characters merely observe the foolish, yet well-intentioned actions of those involved.

A headmaster of an elite and respected private school in a small town in Vermont is given a videotape of students involved in sexual acts driven by alcohol abuse. One of the students is underage. Mike Bordwin is shocked, saddened and fearful of the damage that could result, not only to the students and their families, but the school and the surrounding community. His attempts to handle the volatile situation himself backfire with tragic consequences and no one involved, from the cafeteria food server to the mother of one of the students is untouched.

Once discussion groups get past the obvious topics of teen sex and alcohol use, they will find the structure of the story worth exploring. How affected are the people who do not play a major role in scandals such as this? Unwise decisions are made, but could they have been avoided? Who, ultimately, is to blame for such a scandal and is it right to assign blame?

Book groups that have gone through all of Jodi Picoult’s oeuvre will enjoy Anita Shreve’s backlist. She is also writer of family dramas set in the Northeast. Her novels raise questions about issues, but avoid drawing judgmental conclusions, preferring to let the reader do the moral work.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

1 Comment on "Anywhere and Here"

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  1. misha says:

    Fantastic post, Kaite! I also thought it sounded very much like a book a Picoult fan would enjoy.

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