Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Club: The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place

By e.l. konigsburg, the author of "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler," which we celebrated at book club a few years ago.  This one was one we stumbled across and really liked: the protagonist is a young girl who is intent on remaining herself despite bullying by peers and a camp director at a summer camp.  Her repeated line when asked to do things she no longer feels comfortable trying is, "I prefer not to."  We got a lot of that when the moms announced that it was time to go!  :-)

Margaret Rose, our heroine protagonist, leaves the camp and goes to stay with older uncles who have spent several decades building towers that sound a lot in their description like the Watts Towers in the Los Angeles area.  (CA history, again!)  The local homeowners association attempts to bully the uncles in a parallel, adult version of the terrible Meadowlark girls at camp and Margaret Rose's grace, perseverance, and ingenuity are reflected in her adult relatives.

We had fun building our own towers, eating snacks (including some Hungarian crepes called "palascinta" that I had fun trying - to delicious success), and talking about what we have done and would do in the case of similar bullying.  We also talked about the discomfort of joining new groups and strategies that have worked for us, adults and kids, to do so when necessary.  The art of balancing fitting in with not compromising oneself is at the core of the story and our conversation touched on that in ways that I found meaningful and hopefully fodder for additional dialogue.

Great day, thanks to the wonderful families who came and shared their thoughts, food, and creative building approaches.

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