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Grimes Public Library Book Club met Tuesday August 2nd to discuss The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan. The Spinning Heart chronicles the lives of 21 differing characters in small town Ireland following the financial crisis of 2008. Each character reveals either something they had been harboring, or their daily happenings and fears. Opinions among the book club members in attendance was overwhelmingly that the book was the opposite of a page turner. It was a book they wanted to put down, everyone had troubles finishing it. As each character was chronicled in a chapter, the author never turned back to a previous perspective. The lack of traditional storytelling made Book Club members feel a distinct lack of continuity. Each character’s perspective seemed displaced from the previous. It wasn’t until the last two chapters that the connection was felt. Although the book was difficult to discuss, Book Club was still able to have a thought-provoking discussion about the book.
Because the book is set in a small town, the characters ‘thought’ they knew the ins and outs of everyone else’s life in the village. The characters might have known facts about others’ lives – who their parents were, what their daily schedule might look like, who they dated – but they never really ‘knew’ the person like they thought they did. As shown in one of the last chapters on a wife’s perspective of her husband. If a wife doesn’t know everything there is to know about her husband, how can a stranger – or at least someone merely associated with the husband – from the village know everything about that person?
Another highlight was the crafty writing the author used to portray each character. We, as readers, were able to grasp things about them, like their education level, without ever being told what it was because of the differing vocabulary the author used from character to character.
Even though the book wasn’t a favorite for anyone, the discussion of the book left everyone feeling like they had gained new perspectives. They did, however, ask that the next book not feel quite so much like homework.
Next month’s book club is Tuesday September 5th at 6:30pm. We will be discussing, Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng. Hope to see you there!