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Sunday, February 5, 2023

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Little Women

Picture this: your daughter is in her final semester of elementary school. Already her head reaches your shoulder. You are sharing books, jewelry, and some clothing items. You realize that she isn’t won’t be your little girl much longer. You panic briefly. Then the wheels start turning. What to do, what to do…how can you strengthen your bond so that it has a shot at withstanding the coming adolescent hurricanes, derechos and tsunamis?

That was me about a year ago. In the midst of my mental turmoil, my daughter brought a book home from school: “The Mother-Daughter Book Club.” The girls in the novel were rough approximations of the famous March girls in the Alcott classic referenced above: Beth, Amy, Meg and Jo. It was not, by any means, the best juvenile book I’ve ever read but it provided inspiration, a real “A-ha moment!” as it were. I would form a mother-daughter book club and in so doing, preserve a link with my daughter that (I hoped!) would sustain us through the rocky times ahead.

There was no time to waste. She was growing more and more cool every day and I knew it was only a matter of months (maybe even hours!) before I officially became the Most Embarrassing Person on the planet. I had to get this party started, pronto.

First, I recruited one friend up front whose daughter is also an avid reader, then I sent out a mass email to everyone I knew in my neighborhood who had a daughter in 4th-6th grades. I got exactly one affirmative response. Yes, one. I was a little bit discouraged, but we had critical mass. With three girls and three moms it meant that maybe Amy or Meg were not in the club, but we had a cozy little group of six, and were ready to read—and discuss! And, most important (or so it sometimes seems) eat lots of snacks at each gathering!

Today, a year after I started this venture, we have five sets of mothers and daughters in our club. In addition to a varied reading list (see below), we’ve enjoyed get-togethers at Castiglia’s and the Griffin Bookshop downtown. We meet every month and the food is always good, the discussion lively and the debate about next month’s book selection often intense! Some of these girls must be preparing for careers in litigation, or so you might think, from the passionate defenses they prepare and mount for their literary nominations.

Our meetings include laughter, shouting, interruptions and even, a couple of times, some tears (these are pre-adolescent girls, after all). The books have stretched all of us and exposed us to choices we might never have made on our own. Can you tell that I kind of love this mother-daughter book club thing?!

READING CHOICES FOR OUR MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB, FEBRUARY 2013-JANUARY 2014

1. TOUCH BLUE, by Cynthia Lord
2. THE ENCHANTED CASTLE, by E. Nesbitt
3. ELISSA’S QUEST, by Erica Verrillo
4. HURT GO HAPPY, by Ginny Rorby
5. THE GRIMM LEGACY, by Polly Shulman
6. OUT OF MY MIND, by Sharon Draper
7. THE GIVER, by Lois Lowry
8. AMONG THE HIDDEN, by Magaret Haddix
9. THE MAGIC HALF, by Annie Barrows
10. SAMUEL BLINK AND THE FORBIDDEN FOREST, by Matt Haig
11. THE GIRLS WROTE ORIGINAL HOLIDAY STORIES OR READ A SHORT HOLIDAY-THEMED STORY
12. I AM MALALA, by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

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