Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June Book Club discussion

Good Morning fellow book lovers!

I know it’s been a little while since my last post, so I hope you can forgive me :-)

Last night ABC had its June meet-up and we discussed a pretty interesting book which provoked a lot of different opinions, views, and outlooks on life and human behavior.

The book we discussed was “The Irresistible Henry House” by Lisa Grunwald. It’s a pretty new book… just came out in March of this Year and is already a hit.

Here is a little summary of the book:

“It is the middle of the twentieth century, and in a home economics program at a prominent university, real babies are being used to teach mothering skills to young women. For a young man raised in these unlikely circumstances, finding real love and learning to trust will prove to be the work of a lifetime. In this captivating novel, bestselling author Lisa Grunwald gives us the sweeping tale of an irresistible hero and the many women who love him.

From his earliest days as a “practice baby” through his adult adventures in 1960s New York City, Disney’s Burbank studios, and the delirious world of the Beatles’ London, Henry remains handsome, charming, universally adored—and never entirely accessible to the many women he conquers but can never entirely trust.

Filled with unforgettable characters, settings, and action, The Irresistible Henry House portrays the cultural tumult of the mid-twentieth century even as it explores the inner tumult of a young man trying to transcend a damaged childhood. For it is not until Henry House comes face-to-face with the real truths of his past that he finds a chance for real love.”

Now, if the synopsis doesn’t grab your attention, then the very first sentence of the book sure will:

“By the time Henry House was four months old, a copy of his picture was being carried in the pocketbooks of seven different women, each of whom called him her son.”

Back in the 1950’s and 60’s going to such a practice school was the norm. Women would attend these home programs and literally take care of and raise infant babies. Once the baby reaches a certain age, he or she would then get sent to an orphanage or get adopted by someone. But it’s until that time, that these babies would develop their personality and characteristics, and so we had a very thought provoking discussion about these types of people who were raised in such circumstances and how it affected their behavior throughout their life.

If you think about it, you are who you are at the age of 4 – 5 years old. Your character or personality won’t just change one lovely morning when you’re 35 and you won’t just become a different person.

Yes, throughout your life you will have different thoughts and opinions… you might become an alcoholic and then decide not to kill yourself anymore and stop drinking, you will hate the color pink but then later in life decide you do like pink, you might first be a diehard republican and then switch to becoming more of a democrat, you might hate classical music and later in life develop a certain love for it, and I can go on and on. But your core personality, your character, will never change. And that is why I am saying that you are who you are at a very young age; as young as 4 or 5 years old. Even earlier!

So that being said, I’m sure you can only imagine what growing up in such a home economics program, with 7 different mothers, can do to a child.

Well, for one, Henry, the main character in this book and one of these home program babies, grew up not being able to trust anyone, and he resented, lied to, and betrayed almost everyone he met. He is a very hypocritical character and wasn’t very likeable.

Sure, he went through a lot. He never felt like he belonged anywhere, all he had was his love for painting, he was raised by a woman whom he despised, his real mother came back to reclaim him and then changed her mind, and I can go on and on. So it’s no wonder that he had a few issues. But I think that no matter what negative or sad incidents you go through in your life, whether it’s seeing your parents separate, or experiencing death, or being adopted and never knowing it until later in your life, or going through a divorce, and I can go on and on…but no matter what you went through in your life (and they might be horrible which made you resent a lot of things) there comes a point where you need to just grow up and take blame for your own bad actions.

I’m not saying this to sound heartless or anything like that, I myself have gone through some very tough times, but I just happen to think that instead of sulking and behaving horribly due to certain bad memories or instances in your life, you need to pick yourself up and turn some things around. You can’t change the past and so the best thing to do, is to make sure that your future will not experience such painful times as your past.

It just seems (and that’s my personal opinion), that Henry is constantly using his pain and his life experience to his advantage and in return is not only horrible to the woman who gave him life and raised him, but is also treating every other person that comes into his life with disrespect, and that just made me like him even less.

One of my book club members said something very interesting though, and that was that “Sometimes, the Protagonist is also the Antagonist” and she also believes that Henry was made to not be liked in this book, and I happen to think the same thing.

Overall, this book has many topics to be discussed about and even though I was not a huge fan of this book, I would still recommend it, just simply because of the issues and instances it raises and is talking about. Instances that in today’s society would be considered ‘not normal’ (such as attending a home economics program to learn how to raise babies, with REAL babies).

So that being said, even though I don't necessarily think of Henry as irresistible, I do hope you read this book and let me know what you think about it!


Aventura Book Worm

P.S. please take a look at this interview with the author: