Recommendations for your book club

Every June, the book clubs at the Hilton Head Island library meet, and our members suggest books to read in the upcoming year.

We read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, classics and young adult novels and the suggestions always run the gamut. I think most of us come away with a very long list of books, even if they don't make it on to our discussion schedule.

Finding a book for discussion is always a fine balance between something that people will find engrossing, but also have enough depth for a good conversation. Below are a few selections I recommend if your book club is searching for your next great read:

Molly Ayers is a 17-year old foster child about to age out of the system in Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Through court-mandated community service -- the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall -- Molly is sent to help Vivian, an elderly woman, clean out her home. As Molly begins to sift through the items in Vivian's possession, she realizes that they are more alike than she originally thought. Vivian was an immigrant and an orphan in the 1920s and she, along with hundreds of other orphaned children, was sent on a train to the West Coast with no idea what fate awaited them. "Orphan Train" is the bittersweet story of unlikely friendships, vulnerability and the resilience of the human spirit.

There are many myths and legends about Zelda Fitzgerald, and she has always provided a fascinating subject of speculation. In Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, author Therese Anne Fowler paints a sympathetic portrait of a woman who longed to create a separate identity from that of her famous husband and the mental illness that consumed much of her life. With rich prose, Fowler chronicles the tumultuous marriage of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, showing the glamorous, fraught and loving aspects of their lives together.

It can be difficult to select funny books in a book club because they often don't have enough heft to stimulate a good discussion, but The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, is a lovely blend of humor, heart and an engaging plot that will delight many book club members. Don Tillman is a 39-year-old professor of genetics who approaches finding a wife the same way he does a scientific experiment: by designing a 16-page double-sided questionnaire, intending to weed out anyone who is not a perfect fit to his criteria. Enter Rosie Jarman, a bartender who doesn't meet any of his requirements, and who enlists his help in finding her biological father. What follows is a charming romantic comedy with characters to root for.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt is a luminous story about 14-year-old June Albus, following the death of her beloved uncle Finn from AIDS. Unbeknownst to her, Finn was in a relationship prior to his death, and his partner, Toby, reaches out to her. They surreptitiously form a friendship, grieving together and sharing memories. In the meantime, June must also deal with a rivalry with her older sister, the popular Greta, who is secretly falling apart. Brunt completely captures the feeling of being a slightly odd 14-year-old girl coming to terms with the loss of her uncle and discovering who he was outside of her perceptions of him.

Halle Eisenman is the reference manager at Hilton Head Branch Library.

Original story at the Island Packet