Adrienne is sure her summer is going to be a disaster. Instead of spending it on a wilderness canoe trip in Canada with her best friend, she’s stuck at home in West New Hope, Delaware with a knee injury. And if that isn’t bad enough, her mother is forcing her to be in a mother-daughter book club with girls she would never hang out with. CeeCee is popular and a bit of a spoiled, rich girl, Jill works at the pool and her mother thinks she doesn’t socialize enough, and Wallis is a sort of recluse who for some reason actually wanted to be in the club. Her mother never attends meetings and no one has ever met her.
The girls choose to read five books from their AP English list for junior year, but it’s clear from the beginning that reading and books isn’t at all what this club is about.
Until reading The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher I had never considered the possibility that mother-daughter book clubs could actually be a bad influence on girls. Even though this reading group bears no resemblance to real-life groups that I know of, the issues brought up are important ones.
The story is told from Adrienne’s perspective. She loves to read, she’s comfortable around her best friend but not in broader social circles, and she’s not much of a risk taker. But CeeCee, who has a knack for creating trouble, starts to get under her skin.
As the two of them spend more time together Adrienne finds herself doing things she never would have otherwise, as though she’s trying on a different personality for the summer. She questions who she is and thinks about who she wants to be, but the questions create turmoil and the answers don’t come easy. The moms also have issues they are dealing with, and it’s clear that there are different levels of parental supervision and involvement in each of the girls’ lives.
As a side note, girls and their moms may also want to explore the titles in the summer reading list this book club takes on: The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Anna Perkins; Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley; The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula LeGuin; The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros; and The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. Each book resonates in some way with the girls, and their discussions about them are interesting. Girls in mother-daughter book clubs with girls ages 14 and up will find a lot to talk about when reading The Unbearable Book Club.
The author provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.