The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives Book Club

     While searching for Cheryl Jarvis’ The Necklace:  Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives in the library, I was surprised to find myself in the non-fiction aisle.  The title conjured memories of reading Guy de Maupassant’s short story, “The Necklace.”  Interestingly enough, though, having finished Jarvis’ The Necklace, the two works together spark a thoughtful comparison of themes while encompassing two opposing genres.
     A literary sap when it comes to biographical non-fiction, this is, in essence, what kept me turning the pages.  Intrigued by these thirteen women’s truthful revelations, I was compelled to understand the seemingly shallowness and pride which seemed to exude from the pages in a rather (as Dr. Howard would say) sophomoric style of writing.  Yearning for more substance, I struggled within chapters trying to determine whose story was actually being told as well as waiting for a dramatic conclusion to each individual’s tale which never came to light.  Feeling I would find what I was hoping for in the final chapter: growth, redemption, resolution;   instead, I was and still am bewildered.
     For book club purposes, a read which may not make everyone’s “Top Ten” usually makes for the liveliest discussions.  An imitation (cheap!) version of the diamond tennis necklace may be purchased for your book club in order to fulfill the guidelines offered in The Necklace.  Tamales are a must since it was revealed in Mary O’Connor’s section that they are “a Southern California holiday staple” (179).  In addition, a nod to each woman should be incorporated into the meal;  for example, local-grown organic strawberries to represent Roz McGrath and perhaps a bottle of Dom Perignon (or not) to represent Priscilla Van Gundy.  What ideally one should come away with from this reading is the motivation to create change, find a cause,  and fund raise for a purpose.

Train to Nowhere Book Club

     After completing Train to Nowhere:  Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation, a few days were needed to fully comprehend the senseless, traumatic occurrence that author Colleen Bradford Krantz features in her work of non-fiction.  Without bias, Krantz unfolds various accounts and backstories of the people involved in the gruesome deaths of eleven undocumented immigrants.  Not only does Krantz paint a vivid picture through the peppering of the text with actual photographs, but also provides legal documentation and historical backgrounds while detailing the politics involved in the immigration issue.  By the end of this written account, I felt as if I, too, had made feeble attempts to preserve dirt floors, to search tirelessly for repeat immigrant offenders, and literally to bake to death while desperately searching for a better life.
     On a grammatical note, tears welled in my eyes at the accurate punctuation of “20s” (35).  Yet, my anal English-teacher self cringed at the repetitive use of the words “got” and “things” which (in my opinion) would have read much cleaner and clearer with the use of active verbs and concrete nouns respectively as replacements.
    For the purposes of book club, no food or drink allowed.  This meeting does not call for feasting and merriment.  Instead, a productive talk about how an individual can act as an instrument of change regarding the immigration situation in this country.  Furthermore, a viewing of the accompanying documentary Train to Nowhere:   Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation  will only further place the reader inside this journalistic must-read.

Colleen Bradford Krantz