This month in honor of summer, we read Julie Schumacher’s novel about a mother-daughter summer book club. In this book club the moms decide to help their daughters get their summer AP English reading done. In practice it sounds like a great idea. The problem is that although the girls are all in the same high school, they don’t really know each other and wouldn’t ordinarily choose to spend time together. It’s an easy read and that makes it a great choice as a book to kick back with at the pool or beach and enjoy reading. For your own copy, scroll down to the bottom for your chance to win a copy of this book.
I’m Adrienne Haus, survivor of a mother-daughter book club. Most of us didn’t want to join. My mother signed me up because I was stuck at home all summer, with my knee in a brace. CeeCee’s parents forced her to join after cancelling her Paris trip because she bashed up their car. The members of “The Unbearable Book Club,” CeeCee, Jill, Wallis, and I, were all going into eleventh grade A.P. English. But we weren’t friends. We were literary prisoners, sweating, reading classics, and hanging out at the pool. If you want to find out how membership in a book club can end up with a person being dead, you can probably look us up under mother-daughter literary catastrophe. Or open this book and read my essay, which I’ll turn in when I go back to school. (Goodreads)
Reader Average: B
Casey graded the book a B+
Since I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed by my own mandatory summer reading list, I nearly didn’t read this book club pick. I am so glad I did, because it was a good break from the teacher recommendations. I actually really love reading books with my mom, so I couldn’t relate to Adrienne very much, but I would be just as horrified at having to do a mother-daughter book club with girls I didn’t even know (or like).
Although I wish I’d gotten to know more about Adrienne, CeeCee, Jill, and Wallis (who was a bit too much of a mystery for my taste), I really liked the way the author structured the story like a term paper and had the story follow all the themes she was discussing. I also thought the books all sounded really cool, especially “The Left Hand of Darkness” (not that I can imagine my mom ever reading that!). None of these books are on my summer list, but I might check them out anyhow!
Melanie graded the book a B
In Julie Schumacher’s “The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls,” Adrienne Haus finds herself in the middle of a summer that is nothing like she expected it to be. She had knee surgery instead of going on the great six-week canoe trip in Canada with her best friend, she finds herself hanging out with a girl who would never give her the time of day during the school year and her mom has committed her to a book club with three other girls and their mothers.
As she tries to make sense of her unexpected situation, I found myself identifying with her mother. As her mother senses the growing distance caused by the mental growing pains of her teenage daughter, she tries one method after another to bridge the gap. Meanwhile, Adrienne continues to make one bad choice after another. What will it take to get her to become her sweet little loving daughter again?
It turns out, quite a lot of drama and trauma.
I enjoyed the coming-of-age aspect of this book, even though at times I found it difficult to see Adrienne’s choices as consistent with her character.
Jessica graded the book a B-
In “The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls” the author (Julie Schumacher) not only gives us a story of a girl, Adrienne, who is mired in the Who and Why Am I rite of passage of teens, but thoughtful discussions about some AP-level classics; Frankenstein, The Awakening, and others. And, like all good book clubs, the literary discussions devolve into reality show drama-fest in no time. But, they could have done a whole lot more.
I enjoyed meeting and cheering for CeeCee, Adrienne, Jill and Wallis — even though I found I didn’t like them most of the time. And I could identify with Adrienne’s feeling of being incomplete and lost — starring down a future she hasn’t a clue how to fill. Been there. And sometimes feel I’m still there. And while I enjoyed this lost summer of bad decisions, conflicting personalities, secrets and sisterhood, something was missing. Where were the boys? Personally, I’m a sucker for a coming-of-age romance and there was nary a boy in sight (Jeff doesn’t count). Weren’t there boys at the pool? Couldn’t I have gotten a clandestine kiss? I’d settle for hand-holding in a subplot.
Otherwise, this book is written incredibly well. Great metaphors and phrases had me savoring sentences like whipped cream. Like: “Opening a book in the middle of a chapter always made me feel like I was interrupting a group of strangers…” and “I swept my bangs from right to left, but they immediately flopped back onto play as if to say, Don’t joke around; we live over here.” And “The intriguing thing about playing Scrabble is that as soon as the board is set up in front me, I don’t know any words. Other than cat and bat and rat, everything disappears from the language drawer in my brain.”
Overall, a well-written book about a reluctant book club whose members could have handled a lot more story than what they got.
Diana graded the book a B
I was very excited to read a book about a mother-daughter book club. My own daughter is seventeen years old, and I actually had the idea of starting a book club with some of her friends and their moms. Now after reading this book, it’s probably not a good idea.
This book seemed to have all of the right elements. It appeared to be a book about mother-daughter relationships, friendship and literature. Adrienne is in a “funk” over not being able to go with her best friend on a camping trip due to an injury to her knee. In order to help her out and give her something to do, her mother, along with a couple of other mothers decide to start a book club. An extra girl joins the club without her mother because she wanted to be a part of the club and because she loves to read.
Throughout the book I kept hoping that the relationship between Adrienne and her mother would grow closer. I also kept thinking that the relationships between the girls would also grow in some way. Although, several of the characters go through some changes, they didn’t really seem to grow or change as a result of the book club. I also would have loved to have gotten to know each of the girls better.
I did, however, enjoy the fact that the club read classic books and we find out about them from Adrienne. That was the best part of the book. Although I have read “Frankenstein” before, I hadn’t read the other books. I especially want to read “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Left Hand of Darkness.” Thanks, Julie Schumacher for introducing me to those books!
Cassie graded the book a C+
The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls had a lot of potential. Four girls from four very different walks of life forced to spend a summer together discussing literature for their upcoming English class. But this book club would have disastrous results, and no one would escape unscathed. The premise had me in its grip, but the book, unfortunately, didn’t deliver.
The characters were bland, the drama was predictable, and the twist ending didn’t surprise me at all. I found the characters bland and hard to connect with, especially the narrator. While there were times when bits of backstory made them almost interesting, those pieces and parts were never explored in any depth, and I was left wondering what this book could have been if only we had been able to do more than skim the surface.
I really wanted this book to be better than I found it, because it truly does have a lot of potential. I didn’t think the book was badly done by any means, but it had the potential to deal with some very real issues — physical and emotional abuse, understanding emerging sexuality, growing up with a single parent, teenage rebellion and what drives it — and instead, it introduced them and then never took them any further. I wanted the book to take them further. I wanted to delve a lot deeper than I was allowed to. In the end, this was a light, pleasant read — but it should have been, and could have been, a lot more than that, and that’s why it fell flat for me.
Jenn graded the book a C-
“The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls” by Julie Schumacher was rich in potential, but ultimately not very good in execution. The premise of the book sounded like it would be a hit for a lit nerd like me. A group of girls from different backgrounds are forced to join a mother-daughter book club. While I love most of the books they read,and it’s rare to read a YA story about female relationships that doesn’t involve romance, the book didn’t live up to my expectations.
The biggest problem was that I couldn’t get a handle on what the story was supposed to be about. It meanders for two-hundred pages without much focus. If it was supposed to be about a mother-daughter connection, then there wasn’t enough connecting. The friendship between the daughters in the group seemed superficial. Furthermore, none of the characters experienced any organic growth. The main character, Adrienne, dyes her hair, sneaks out of her house, and thoroughly exasperates her mom, but doesn’t really grow as a person.
Thirty pages from the end, something big finally happens, but it had no emotional impact so I’m really not sure what purpose the event actually served.
I enjoyed the format of the book (each chapter of the story described a different element of fiction), and I liked that the book club included classic novels written by female authors. However, I don’t think it was enough to make this story engaging or to ease my disappointment at what it could have been.
Lily graded the book a C
I found this book to be very ok. There was nothing great or terrible about it. I don’t really think I’ll recommend it or return to it, and I’ll probably end up donating my copy.
Adrienne is forced to take part in a mother daughter book club, her mother’s idea to find her something to do after injuring her leg. However, not all goes as planned and a crazy summer unfolds.