My friend Jan (who also happens to be a kick ass runner and triathlete) invited me into her Book Club when I first moved to Tampa. It is a perfect fit as the Book Club isn’t too serious – meaning if you don’t finish, or even read, the book – no big deal!
We each host once a year and get to pick the book for that month. This group has been meeting since 2006, so they’ve read some great books. Many books that I wanted to read, have already been read. Check out past Book Club Picks here if you want some book ideas yourself.
So I went digging around for a book to read, asked for advice on Facebook, and contemplated picking books I’ve already read by my favorite author Margaret Atwood. In the end, I choose the book Wrecker by Summer Wood as this month’s book. Since I’m intrigued by sub-cultures and all things flower-power, the description on Good Reads caught my eye.
New Mexico author Wood follows Arroyo with this affecting novel about the rearing of a lovable boy named Wrecker (for his destructive tendencies), who carries the scars of being abandoned at age 3 when his penniless, clueless mother, Lisa Fay, went to prison for drugs. It’s early 1969 when Wrecker’s uncle, Len, whose wife is brain damaged from an infection, becomes aware of the heft of his guardianship responsibilities as he cares for Wrecker at the Bow Farm hippie commune on the Lost Coast section of Northern California. To “help him go forward,” the eccentric residents–young, no-nonsense Southern belle Melody; plaid-clad mother-hen Ruthie; and independent, “short and furry” Johnny Appleseed–of this unconventional cloister take Wrecker into their collective arms. Wrecker is confused and troublesome, and over the years often runs away, but eventually comes to appreciate his alternative family. Complications emerge with a hasty adoption, Len’s wife’s pneumonia, Wrecker’s burgeoning adolescence, and his estranged mother’s eagerness to reclaim her teenage son when she’s released from prison after almost 15 years, just as Wrecker might be moving past his need to reunite with her. Wood (who was inspired by her own fostering experiences) succeeds with surefooted prose; a lush, earthy California backdrop; and a sensitive story of nurturing and family.
With descriptive words like “hippie,” “commune,” “eccentric,” and “earthy” I was expecting vivid tales of Acid Tests where the youth of America went to “tune in. turn on. and drop out.” Wrecker wanted to get there, but there were so many characters that weren’t fully developed, it didn’t. I really had a hard time getting through the book, and if Book Club wasn’t at my house this month, I probably would have put Wrecker down for a more enjoyable tale. Others, though, seemed to enjoy it, finding a connection through the setting or the theme of abandonment.
Not only does this group enjoy reading, but we also like good food and good drinks!
Here was the spread. Momma McGee would be proud.
Harvest Pasta Salad (<- This was some good shit. Recipe coming soon!)
The Harvest Pasta Salad was a recipe that was on the back of the pasta box and was vegan if I left out the cheese. I was a little nervous making a new dish for a crowd before testing it myself, but I went for it. So delicious. I will post the recipe soon – but for a teaser it had whole wheat penne, tomatoes, strawberries, red onion, spring salad mix, pine nuts and balsamic. YUM!
Carrots and Hummus
Grape Guacamole, Salsa, Blue Corn Tortilla Chips and Pita Chips
Grape Guacamole is always a crowd pleaser – once they get past the “what the hell is this?” point.
Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Cookie Cake (not-vegan) for a gal who is moving away
White Sangria. Beer and Wine
So despite a ‘wrecker’ of a book, at least there was good food and drinks to make up for it.
Please tell me your favorite book so next year when I host I don’t pick another doozie.