Our book club book this month is Hidden Valley Road, which we will be discussing on Saturday January 23, 2021 at 10:30AM over zoom. Here are some interviews with the author!
One of the things I miss in the Covid-Era is going to San Francisco and Oakland to see my friends, not to mention beautiful art and gardens and that glorious Bay. When a friend of mine asked about books set in San Francisco, I was only too happy to waste some time making her a list. Here are some of my favorites, with links to reviews when applicable:
The Heroine Complex series, by Sarah Kuhn
I love this contemporary paranormal series about a group of sisters and friends in the Bay Area who fight the supernatural even when the supernatural takes the form of demon-possessed cupcakes. Expect inclusivity, feminism, action, and romance.
The Fifth Sacred Thing, by Starhawk
In the year 2048, The United States has split into smaller nations. The utopian San Francisco must defend itself against invaders without losing its core values in the process.
Mama’s Bank Account, by Kathryn Forbes
This is a sweet collection of short stories about a Norwegian immigrant family living in San Francisco in the 1910s. A good comfort read.
The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
This contemporary novel about Chinese immigrant mothers and their American-born daughters is a classic.
At the end of the 19th century, Li-Lin must protect Chinatown from mundane and supernatural threats.
During the Great Recession, a laid-off web designer gets a job at a mysterious bookstore in this gentle fantasy.
All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Anders
This is a near-future science fiction/fantasy book about a witch and a mad scientist who fall in love while saving the world.
A young married woman and a hooker with, and I quote, “a heart of gold” become friends and help each other survive in Gold Rush San Francisco.
Tea with the Black Dragon, by R.A. Macavoy
This classic mystery has just a hint of fantasy as a Chinese man helps a woman find her missing daughter. It hasn’t aged well, but for its time was unusual and exciting for having a male Chinese romantic protagonist.
Two women meet in 1940’s San Francisco and romance and adventure transpire in this poignant historical feminist and LGBTQIA-friendly fantasy.
Copy Boy, by Shelley Blanton-Stroud
In this historical novel set in the Great Depression, a woman reinvents herself in the journalistic world of San Francisco.
What are YOUR favorite Bay Area books?
Our book club will be held on Zoom on January 23, 2021. Here are discussion questions for our book, Hidden Valley Road, courtesy of penguinrandomhouse.com! I will be adding a few more before our meeting, but these should help you get started.
1. How does the Galvin family adapt when the boys develop schizophrenia? Do any of the family members handle it better or worse than others? 10. As the Galvin children begin having children of their own, how does their upbringing on Hidden Valley Road affect how they raise their own children?
2. At the time when the Galvin boys are being diagnosed with schizophrenia, studies in mental illness claim the parents are responsible. How do you think this affected how Don and Mimi handled the changes happening in their family?
3. How did growing up on an air force base positively or negatively affect the Galvin family?
4.. How did this book change your perception of mental illness?
5. Discuss how the youngest Galvins, Lindsay and Margaret, both came to terms with their family’s struggle with schizophrenia in different ways.
6. Did your feelings change about any of the characters during the course of reading?
7. What was your impression of Mimi at the beginning of the book? Did it change by the end?
8. Tragedies have the power to shape families to bring them closer or pull them apart. How is the Galvin family shaped by their own tragedies?
Finally, here is an interview with the author:
This month’s poem comes to us from Robert Frost:
It’s a new year and a new book! This month we are reading Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, by Robert Kolker. We will be discussing the book on zoom (link pending) on January 23rd, 2021 at 10:30AM.
Here’s the publisher’s description:
Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don’s work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins–aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony–and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family?
What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amid profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations.
With clarity and compassion, bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker uncovers one family’s unforgettable legacy of suffering, love, and hope.
Happy New Year! It’s already shaping up to be a busy one!
Here are two places you can find me in January:
January 9: 1PM: Romance Book Club
We will be discussing The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan, one of my favorite authors! Here is the link for more information:
And here’s a review of the book from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books:
January 23 at 10:30AM: Between the Lines Book Club (zoom link pending).
Our book this month is Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of An American Family, by Robert Kolker
Watch our Friday space for more information about this book!