The Moraine Valley Library and Moraine Valley Bookstore present the 2014-2015 One Book, One College program.
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In Giovanni's Room, renowned 20th century author James Baldwin presents a beautiful, but ultimately tragic, portrait of a man who finds love but is unable to accept it. David, the novel's protagonist, discovers himself and Giovanni in the underworld of Paris where the not quite acceptable of society meet and mingle. In this meeting Baldwin captures the beauty and promise of love, but David must choose between his fiancé Hella and this new, possibly truer romance. Eventually, David must make a choice between his own happiness or the acceptance of society, and his inability to make this decision has devastating repercussions for himself and those closest to him. Giovanni's Room is a heart wrenching narrative that reveals the pain and struggle that comes from living in a society where being one's true self is seen as shameful or wrong. Although Baldwin was writing in the 1950's, the voices and conflicts he presents are still with us today.
Giovanni’s Room represents James Baldwin at his best. The prose is complex but accessible interweaving description, dialog, and narration to create a heartbreakingly tragic tone throughout the book. After writing the book in the 1950s, Baldwin could not find a publisher. It was first published in London and eventually in New York. Since that time, the book has received much acclaim for its groundbreaking nature as well as for the craft it represents. As a One Book text, Giovanni’s Room presents a range of timely themes that cross the Moraine Valley curriculum. Most importantly, it challenges the reader to consider love, relationships, and self acceptance.
For thousands of years, humans have used stories to communicate knowledge about the world.
Stories provide contexts for our understanding of facts, emotions, discoveries, history,
relationships, and all kinds of human interaction.
For this reason, the Moraine Valley Library and the Moraine Valley Bookstore invite all members of the community to come together to discuss a selected story in the One Book, One College program. Join us as we share knowledge across disciplines, exchange new ideas on useful topics, and enrich our curriculum in new ways.
For more information, contact us at (708) 974-5709 or email@example.com.
Previous One Book, One College Selections:
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (2004)
Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2005-2006)
George Orwell’s 1984 (2006-2007)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X as Told to Alex Haley (2007-2008)
Elizabeth Royte's Garbage Land (2008-2009)
Studs Terkel's Working (2009-2010)
Rebecca Skloot's The Immoral Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010-2011)
Roxanna Saberi's Between Two Worlds (2011-2012)
Tony Horwitz's Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War (2012-2013)
Max Brooks’ World War Z: The Oral History of the Zombie War (2013-2014)
― James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room
Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Booklist review: “*Starred Review* Two superstar authors pair up and really deliver the goods, dishing up a terrific high energy tale of teen love, lust, intrigue, anger, pain, and friendship threaded with generous measures of comedy and savvy counsel. Though the ensemble cast revolves around Tiny Cooper, “the world’s largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world’s gayest person who is really, really large,” the central characters are the two titular narrators, who share a name (but don’t meet until partway through) and trade off alternate chapters. One Will has been Tiny’s satellite for years but is starting to chafe at the role—especially after Tiny forcibly sets him up with Jane, an infuriatingly perfect match. The other, whose clinical depression is brilliantly signaled by an alllowercase narrative and so intensely conveyed that his early entries are hard to read, sees at least a glimmer of light fall on his selfimage after a chance meeting with Tiny sparks a wild mutual infatuation. The performance of an autobiographical highschool musical that Tiny writes, directs, and stars in makes a rousing and suitably theatrical finale for a tale populated with young people engaged in figuring out what’s important and shot through with strong feelings, smartmouthed dialogue, and uncommon insight.”
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Library Journal review: “ Raised by an oppressively evangelical mother, Jeanette grows up a good little Christian soldier, even going so far as to stitch samplers whose apocalyptic themes terrify her classmates. As she dryly notes, without self-pity or smugness, "This tendency towards the exotic has brought me many problems, just as it did for William Blake." Jeanette would have remained in the fold but for her unconventional desires; though she can reconcile her love of women with her love of God, the church cannot. It could have been a grim tale, but this first novel winner of England's Whitbread Prize is in fact a wry and tender telling of a young girl's triumphantly coming into her own. Highly recommended.”
a + e Forever by Ilike Merey
Book List starred review: “Merey’s soulful story of highschool juniors Asher and Eulalie shows just how tenuous our understanding of identity, friendship, and romance can be. Neither Ash, a shy, bisexual pretty boy, nor Eu, a strident dyke with the appetite of a trucker, can be reduced to a single aspect of their identities. During the few months of their intense relationship, they share music, a passion for drawing, and a variety of attempts to socialize with their families and other teens. Merey introduces questions and complications that don’t get neatly resolved—why does Ash share a bedroom with what seems to be his nearly twin sister?—but instead make the characters and plot all the more realistic; we truly can’t know all of what makes somebody tick. The impressionistic and beautiful blackandwhite images were created with traditional paper and ink, a salutary opposition to all the nontradition offered up by Ash and Eu. Although the work appears sketchy at first glance, every line is clear and every word is clarifying. Without the story becoming didactic, Ash and Eu become students of human nature as they teach each other about the possibilities and boundaries of their lives. These are authentic teens with attitudes, sound tracks, and sexual curiosity (the few scenes of female nudity are restricted to the upper body) that their peers will understand.”
Moraine Valley Community College Library
Palos Hills, IL