Amy Hatvany’s Heart Like Mine Book Club

Amy Hatvany’s Heart Like Mine is a complex tale of the lasting effects suppression of emotions can have on not only an individual, but also an extended family.  Through her writing, Hatvany methodically unfolds essential elements of the story to further peak the reader‘s interest and keep the pages turning.  Told from the perspectives of three characteristically different women, the reader is allowed to weave together these differing viewpoints in order to form the truth of the situation.
For the purposes of book club, Hatvany generously offers open-ended questions and topics for discussion at the end of the novel.  In addition, a section titled Enhance Your Book Club allows book clubs to delve deeper into the novel by experiencing it either through the rewriting of a scene or creating one’s own recipe which has significance behind it much like the first recipe Grace and Ava attempted together.  To borrow from Heart Like Mine, book club members may want to channel Grace and Victor’s first meeting by sharing a meal of “creamy lemon butter sauce . . . served over grilled chipotle-spiced halibut” (52) or the trials and tribulations of Ava’s adolescence with a meal much like Whitney’s consisting of “organic chicken slices, mixed greens, and some kind of cookie made with agave nectar” (29).  For dessert, though, a pumpkin cream cheese Bundt cake is a must in order to encourage conversation about Ava’s mother, Kelli.

Amy Hatvany

40+ and Fabulous Book Club

     Kismet?  Absolutely!  With forty fast approaching, I became familiar with author Sondra Wright and her debut publication, 40+ and Fabulous:  Moving Forward Fierce, Focused, and Full of Life!  Previously, I had searched via hashtags for links and/or Tweeps dealing with turning forty, but came up only with  tweets concerning a particular size of malt beverage.  Truly shocked at not finding a plethora of groups, causes, and sayings including the infamous “turning forty” ideal, I was elated when I came across a book celebrating this decade (and then some) of adulthood.
     A compilation of autobiographical essays written by talented, strong women at least forty years of age comprise the majority of the pages.  These pages reveal with much honesty and humor the truth about experiencing one’s forties from a female perspective.  After close reading and much highlighting, recurring themes began to take root . . .  the inevitability of the “girls” heading south (and not solely for the winter), the deepening of female friendships and the release of toxic relationships, the forgiveness of not only others, but also one’s self, and a thorough understanding (physically and intellectually) of the often perplexing male specimen.

     An excellent book club choice for a lively discussion, a Ladies on the Lawn party as portrayed in sixty-year-old Terry Kohl’s contributing commentary is the optimal setting.  Taking liberties due to extreme St. Louis summer heat, I opted for an air-conditioned Ladies on the Linoleum and Carpet party.  Although long, flowing garden-style clothing would be welcomed, I am more of the tattered jean capris and hoodie kind of gal, and I want my gal pals to come dressed in whatever suits their moods.  Guests may bring a dish of her own choosing to pass.  What is crucial to this book club discussion is the one male instrumentalist.  In Kohl’s case, her musician played the fiddle, violin, and mandolin.  For our purposes, the hub with minimal urging retrieved his electric guitar from his man cave and serenaded us with heavy metal as we sipped our sangria.  Think Amazon Women at the Festival of Dionysus . . . 

Even if a hunky musician does not reside in your abode, do not hesitate to invite the girls over, turn on the iPod, and with the guidance of Sondra Wright, discuss how 40+ and fabulous you all are.

Sondra Wright

‘Twas the Night before Forty

‘Twas the night before forty, when all through the house
My three-year-old was stirring, much like a mouse;
The Spanx were hung by the shower rod with care,
In hopes that one day the tummy’s not there;

The hub and I were nestled all snug in our bed,
Until I started snoring right next to his head;
He whispered, he shook me, and finally a hard tap
Before solace in the Princess Lounge for a much-needed nap,

When out in the Big Room there arose such a clatter,
I stumbled from bed to see what was the matter.
My life until now was before me in a flash,
Giggling and crying, I prayed this streaming video wouldn’t crash.

Through the window, the moon shone on my pajama tank top
Reminding me that my “girls” have yet to drop,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a memory of when growing boobies equaled fear,

Laughter emerged, so lively and quick,
Until the next moment I saw my dad in bed sick.
More rapid than eagles an adult you become,
At the passing of a parent, certain trauma in life’s album.

“Now, chin hairs! now, age spots! now, menopause and pimples!
On, wrinkles! on scars! on, stretch marks and dimples!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
Someone approaching; panic set in; I was no longer aloof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney my present self came with a bound.

I was dressed all in sweats, from my head to my toes,
My clothes covered with finger paint, glue stick, and “who knows!”
A bundle of laundry I had flung on my back,
And I looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

My contact-colored eyes — how they twinkled with glee!
At the sight of my children and the man who loves me!
My Burt’s Bee pink mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the joyous tears from my eyes did flow;

I sprang to my bed, to the night’s events blew a whistle,
And away my youth flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard myself exclaim, beckoning middle age into sight,