A Reader's Loft Book Club
Tuesday, October 9 at 6:00 PM
From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a probing look at the struggles of America's white working class through the author's own story of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town.
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis--that of poor, white Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for over forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. In HillbillyElegy, J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck.
The Vance family story began with hope in postwar America. J.D.'s grandparents were "dirt poor and in love" and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
Tuesday, November 13 at 6:00 PM
First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers--and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
Tuesday, December 11 at 6:00 PM
When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country's most eligible bachelor.
On Nick's arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.
Tuesday, January 8 at 6:00 PM
Casey Ellis is in lonely place in her life. Her mother remains in a comatose state several years after a terrible accident when Casey is rocked by the news that her estranged father has suddenly died.
Although she never met him, she held onto the hope that someday her father--the celebrated psychologist Dr. Cornelis Unger--might reach out to her. So it comes as a shock when she learns that she has inherited his beautiful townhouse in Boston's exclusive Beacon Hill.
Sensing that her father had an ulterior motive in leaving her the property, Casey searches the house and finds a strange, incomplete manuscript. It tells the harrowing story of a young woman named Jenny who was abused by her parents. When her mother was murdered, her father was sent to prison. After only six years in jail, he is about to be released, and Jenny knows she has to escape. Her way out appears in the form of a man named Pete who shows up on his motorcycle and offers to whisk her away.
Convinced the story is true, Casey sets out to find the rest of the pages and help Jenny. With the discovery of each additional segment, she learns more about Jenny, about herself, and about Cornelius Unger. Will it be the key to understanding not only her father's past but also that of the man Casey has come to love?