All Who Do Not Return

Our next Book Club meeting will be on Wednesday, September 18 from 1:00pm to 3:00 pm.

We will be discussing “All Who Go Do Not Return” by Shelum Deen.

A moving and revealing exploration of Hasidic life, and one man’s struggles with faith, family, and community

Shulem Deen was raised to believe that questions are dangerous. As a member of the Skverers, one of the most insular Hasidic sects in the US, he knows little about the outside world–only that it is to be shunned. His marriage at eighteen is arranged and several children soon follow. Deen’s first transgression–turning on the radio–is small, but his curiosity leads him to the library, and later the Internet. Soon he begins a feverish inquiry into the tenets of his religious beliefs, until, several years later, his faith unravels entirely.

Now a heretic, he fears being discovered and ostracized from the only world he knows. His relationship with his family at stake, he is forced into a life of deception, and begins a long struggle to hold on to those he loves most: his five children. In All Who Go Do Not Return, Deen bravely traces his harrowing loss of faith, while offering an illuminating look at a highly secretive world.

 

This is how it always is

At our October 16th Book Club meeting we will be discussing “This Is How It Always Is” by Laurie Frankel.

In recent years we’ve seen an increasing number of memoirs from transgender individuals and from parents forging uncharted waters in order to help their transgender children live happy, healthy lives in a society that still largely defines gender by what’s in your pants. In her novel This is How It Always Is Laurie Frankel takes those real-life experiences and puts them into a big-hearted story of family and secrets. Penn and Rosie are a close, loving couple, living in Madison, Wisconsin with their five boys. But it becomes evident before long that their youngest, Claude, feels like he should have been born a girl. So how do these strong, supportive parents go about helping their son live as the person he wants to be? It’s a fascinating thing to behold. The nuances and unforeseen pitfalls of trying to protect your child from fear and hate while nurturing a sense of acceptance is daunting. What is private and what is a secret, and what is, really, nobody’s business? Sometimes secrets have a way of materializing in the blink of an eye or the span of an innocuous question, and this novel is about the lengths we will go, as parents and siblings, to protect each other. And how we react when our secrets are exposed. This is How It Always Is in an incredible read that speaks to the heart of what it means to love and be loved by family. –Seira Wilson, The Amazon Book Review