Sunday, August 23, 2015

WOW Book Club - September 2015

We are now going to Afghanistan through the view of an American woman in our September WOW book club discussion, with the book "Kabul Beauty School" by Deborah Rodriguez
Here's a Book Summary:

Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid to this war-torn nation. Surrounded by men and women whose skills–as doctors, nurses, and therapists–seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. Yet she soon found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus an idea was born.
With the help of corporate and international sponsors, the Kabul Beauty School welcomed its first class in 2003. Well meaning but sometimes brazen, Rodriguez stumbled through language barriers, overstepped cultural customs, and constantly juggled the challenges of a postwar nation even as she learned how to empower her students to become their families’ breadwinners by learning the fundamentals of coloring techniques, haircutting, and makeup.
Yet within the small haven of the beauty school, the line between teacher and student quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez their stories and their hearts: the newlywed who faked her virginity on her wedding night, the twelve-year-old bride sold into marriage to pay her family’s debts, the Taliban member’s wife who pursued her training despite her husband’s constant beatings. Through these and other stories, Rodriguez found the strength to leave her own unhealthy marriage and allow herself to love again, Afghan style.
We will be meeting on Sunday September 27 at 2pm in the Castro neighborhood at the Hearth Coffee Roasters.
Next Book to Read:

October - What tears us apart by Deborah Cloyed (Kenya)
November - Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai (India)
December - The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camila Gibb (Vietnam)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

August 2015: Island of a Thousand Mirrors

Happy Summer Time!
In August we'll be visitng Sri Lanka to discuss a book written by local Bay Area author Nayomi Munaweera called Island of a Thousand Mirrors.
Here's a Book Summary: 

Island of a Thousand Mirrors follows the fate of two families, one Tamil, one Sinhala as they straddle opposite sides of the long and brutal Sri Lankan civil war.
Narrated by the eldest daughter of each family, the story explores how each woman negotiates war, migration, love, exile, and belonging. At its root, it s a story of a fragmented nation struggling to find its way to a new beginning.
See you on Sunday August 16 at 2pm, at Crossroads Cafe in the SoMA area at Delancy and Brannan Street.
Next Book To Read:
September - Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

July 2015: Philida by Andre Brink

From a contemporary slave story, we're transitioning to another historical slave story based in South Africa. We are reading Philida by Andre Brink.
Here's a Book Summary:
Philida is the mother of four children by Francois Brink, the son of her master. The year is 1832 and the Cape is rife with rumours about the liberation of the slaves. Philida decides to risk her whole life by lodging a complaint against Francois, who has reneged on his promise to set her free.
His father has ordered him to marry a white woman from a prominent Cape Town family, and Philida will be sold on to owners in the harsh country up north. Unwilling to accept this fate, Philida continues to test the limits of her freedom, and with the Muslim slave Labyn she sets off on a journey across the great wilderness on the banks of the Gariep River, to the far north of Cape Town. Philida is an unforgettable story of one woman’s determination to survive and be free.
We're meeting in Oakland, near 19th Street BART (10min walk).
Next Books to Read:
August - Island of a thousand mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera
September - Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

June 2015 - Hidden Girl

We are doing a short turn around to over next book club discussion on the book "Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave" by Shyima Hall.

Here'as a Book Summary:

Shyima Hall was born in Egypt on September 29, 1989, the seventh child of desperately poor parents. When she was eight, her parents sold her into slavery. Shyima then moved two hours away to Egypt’s capitol city of Cairo to live with a wealthy family and serve them eighteen hours a day, seven days a week. When she was ten, her captors moved to Orange County, California, and smuggled Shyima with them. Two years later, an anonymous call from a neighbor brought about the end of Shyima’s servitude—but her journey to true freedom was far from over.

A volunteer at her local police department since she was a teenager, Shyima is passionate about helping to rescue others who are in bondage. Now a US citizen, she regularly speaks out about human trafficking and intends to one day become an immigration officer. In Hidden Girl, Shyima candidly reveals how she overcame her harrowing circumstances and brings vital awareness to a timely and relevant topic.

We will be meeting in the East Bay neighbourhood to a member's request. We will be meeting very close to the Rockridge BART station at the Bittersweet Cafe, 5427 College Avenue, Oakland on Sunday June 7th at 2pm.


July - Philida by Andre Brink
August - Island of a thousand mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera
September - Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

May 2015 - The Queen of Katwe

Hi everyone! We are meeting on Sunday May 24 during Memorial Day weekend to discuss the book "The Queen of Katwe, A Story of Life, Chess and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of becoming a Grandmaster" by Tim Crothers.

Here's a Book Summary:
PHIONA MUTESI sleeps in a decrepit shack with her mother and three siblings and struggles to find a single meal each day. Phiona has been out of school most of her life because her mother cannot afford it, so
she is only now learning to read and write. Phiona Mutesi is also one of the best chess players in the world. 

One day in 2005, while searching for food, nine-year-old Phiona followed her brother to a dusty veranda where she met Robert Katende, who had also grown up in the Kampala slums. Katende, a war refugee turned missionary, had an improbable dream: to empower kids through chess—a game so foreign there is no word for it in their native language. Laying a chessboard in the dirt of the Katwe slum, Robert painstakingly taught the game each day.
When he left at night, slum kids played on with bottlecaps on scraps of cardboard. At first they came for a free bowl of porridge, but many grew to love chess, a game that—like their daily lives—means persevering against great obstacles. Of these kids, one stood out as an immense talent: Phiona. 

By the age of eleven Phiona was her country’s junior champion and at fifteen, the national champion. In September 2010, she traveled to Siberia, a rare journey out of Katwe, to compete in the Chess Olympiad, the world’s most prestigious team-chess event.
Phiona’s dream is to one day become a Grandmaster, the most elite title in chess. But to reach that goal, she must grapple with everyday life in one of the world’s most unstable countries, a place where girls are taught to be mothers, not dreamers, and the threats of AIDS, kidnapping, and starvation loom over the people. 

Next Books to Read:
Sunday June 7 - Hidden Girl by Shyima Hall
July - Philida by Andre Brink
August - Island of Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera
September - Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

April 2015 - Shanghai Girls

We are now reading another book from Lisa See called "Shanghai Girls."

Here's a Book Summary:

In 1937 Shanghai—the Paris of Asia—twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree—until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth. To repay his debts, he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from Los Angeles to find Chinese brides. 

As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, from the Chinese countryside to the shores of America. Though inseparable best friends, the sisters also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. Along the way they make terrible sacrifices, face impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are—Shanghai girls.

We will be meeting in the Hayes Valley Neighborhood at the Grove Hayes on Sunday April 12 at 2pm. We're back in San Francisco!

Next Books to Read:
May 2015 - The Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers

Saturday, February 28, 2015

March 2015 - When the Ground Turn in its Sleep

Our next book discussion will be set in Guatemala through the book "When the Ground Turn it in its Sleep" by Sylvia Sellers-García. 

Here's the Book Summary:
Nítido Amán knows he was born in Guatemala, but he doesn't know where, or why his family left. Raised in the United States by his immigrant parents, he never asked them about his homeland as a child-and they never talked about it. When Nítido loses his father to Alzheimer's disease, his despondent mother grows increasingly silent. Realizing that his only links to the past are disappearing, he travels to Guatemala, against his mother's wishes, to see what he can uncover for himself.

He arrives in the tiny town of Río Roto, where he suspects his family came from, prepared to ask questions, and perhaps find work teaching there. But when he is mistaken for the new local priest, Nítido decides to play the part, thinking that the confessional confidences of the townspeople will prove more fruitful than ordinary conversation in leading him to the answers he seeks. What he finds in Río Roto, though, is a place shrouded in silence and secrets, a place that can neither escape nor give voice to the unnamed horrors it has survived. Nítido is at once determined and frightened to unearth these horrors-even as they force him to reevaluate his own haunted past. 

In elegant, hypnotic prose, Sylvia Sellers-García delivers a story of divergent cultures and
divided identities, of conflicts between generations and civilizations, of mourning, and, finally, of healing. When the Ground Turns in Its Sleep marks her arrival as a distinctive and powerful new voice.

Looking forward to meeting once again in Oakland, near the 12th Street BART station at the Awaken Cafe!

Next Book to Read:
April - Shanghai Girls - Lisa See