Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]
The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.
Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
"I Used To Dream About Escaping My Ordinary Life, But My Life Was Never Ordinary. I Had Simply Failed To Notice How Extraordinary ..."
A bunch of Book Club members had read the popular book for young adults, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. We met on a rainy Monday to discuss the book. Some had read the second and third books in the series, too.
Shirley introduced the book and started the conversation with a question: "What did you think of the photos?" Joyce provided the first answer: she thought the photos were significant and had been surprised to find that they were real. Carla agreed that the photos were real, but she added that at that time in history, photographers produced a lot of illusions and special effects. Dennis believed the photos were real. Speaking of the niche in history, Linda mentioned that during the Civil War, it was not uncommon for photos to feature dead soldiers, propped up. The conversation stayed in a macabre tone, with Dennis mentioning that his daughter, as a child, liked to look at a book he had of photos of biological anomalies. Shirley reminded us of the topic at hand, by saying that the photo of Emma makes her look older than she is in the story.
Shirley thought the author was clever to use the photos and build the story around them. But she found the photos "creepy;" inadvertently, I thought, establishing creepiness as the theme behind the book, or even the trilogy. Linda H. said that some of the photos were made by double exposures. Joyce said they were photos of freaks. Dennis remembered that when he was a teenager, if he forgot to advance his camera when taking snapshots, he would get double exposures. I, too remember double exposures as what happened when you forgot to advance the film. I never thought of the double exposures as being interesting or something to experiment with; just as a mistake, with the punishment being a loss of control over the photographing of reality that I was attempting. Apparently this was stodgy and unoriginal thinking, as some of the photos in the book were clearly successful experiments and purposeful uses of the double exposure. Cindy T. said that the popularity of the photos combined with their creepiness highlights the fact that it is human nature to find those photos interesting.
The photos were indeed "peculiar." Shirley said that "peculiar" was a word often used to describe Jews. Other than the Jews being scapegoats for criticism and ridicule and being historically and during World War II targeted, terrorized, and persecuted...the Nazi theme of the book is implicit but not expanded. The persecution of Jacob's grandfather clearly implied and reminded mature readers of the Nazi regime, yet the author made this fictitious story sidestep the Nazis and focus instead on the fictitious "peculiar" people with their own specific characteristics that would be categorized as science fiction rather than based on history.
Some interesting and unique insights from the discussion:
Cindy V. noted that when the book supposedly took place, in 1942, people didn't live long and started showing their age during their teenage years. Thus, though members of the group in the story found eternal youth when they joined the group, some were teenagers by the time they joined the others and already showed some age. Lydia noted that the Peculiars would age if they left their loop, and the group left the loop at the end of the book. Carla said they were on their way to the next loop, so they didn't age much. Lydia said that the book, or her interpretation of it, ran out of steam toward the end. Jacob seemed like a teenager at first but seemed more like an adult after he experienced killing. Joyce said that a weakness of the book was that there was too much setting up for the next book. She would have preferred some resolution, and Jacob should have had some insights.
Books and media that we compared Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children to:
A Tim Burton movie, basically any Tim Burton movie, but especially his version of "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," a movie to be released on September 30th.
Harry Potter books - They differ from the Peculiar Children trilogy in that each book has a conclusion, but they are part of a series with a similarly common overall goal and ongoing struggle.
Time-travel stories in general
Lost Horizon, by James Hilton
Science Fiction parallel universes, particularly the Roger Zelazny Amber series, in which there is movement between fictitious worlds.
The TV series, "Grimm"
"Dr. Who" TV series
"Groundhog Day" movie
"Star Wars" movies
Joseph Campbell's writings about the hero's journey, in which someone of seemingly little consequence seems to be failing but ends up succeeding.