Mary Ellen previously mention one book one community discussions and the timing could not have been perfect.  Last night the Greendale Public Library held its spring Greendale Reads and our title was Jemmy by Jon Hassler. 

While we have not been very successful in attracting a community wide effort for these reads twice a year, we are very successful within the walls of the library and in reaching out to a young adult population.  Nine members of a private book discussion group in our community attended the Greendale Reads discussion, a practice that has been going on for a few years. 

Last year we read Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes and had a successful discussion with a young adult clientele.  This year we decide to select a young adult novel to read and discuss. 

Hassler’s book, written in 1980, features a seventeen-year-old girl who is forced to leave high school by her alcoholic father so that she can help around the house.  Jemmy, the girl, is a product of a Chippewa mother and a Caucasian father.  She is haunted by the memory of her mother, now dead six years, and troubled by her relationship with her father which is in danger of slipping into servitude.  When a muralist comes to town intent on creating a huge mural in Minneapolis, he selects Jemmy to be his model.  This choice, brought about by serendipity, transforms Jemmy as well as many of the other characters in the book. 

The novel is a thoughtful and slowly pace character study with surprising consequences for the people in the book.  We had twenty-five and the book discussion last night and it went well.  In a few weeks, the young adults get there crack at the book and I will let you know how it went. 




About the Author:

Gary Niebuhr is the author of Make Mine a Mystery (2003), Caught up in Crime (2009), and other readers' guides to mystery and detective fiction. He was a Booklist contributor from 2008-2014.

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