TFG: The Book Club

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Book Club Book Review – Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Navigating Early is one of those books that I might not have bothered to read had it not been our book club’s first selection for this year. It’s a middle-grade novel about Jackie, a 13-year-old Kansas boy who moves to a boarding school in Maine, and Early, an eccentric classmate who lives at the school basement. One might have thought that the title is a descriptive action, such as Waking Up Early or Sleeping Early, but no, “Navigating” is a transitive verb and the direct object is the person Early.

I tend to treat a novel differently when I know that the intended audience for it is younger than me. I am either more forgiving or more flexible. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I found this rather fun. If I had a nephew or a niece, I would like him or her to read this novel about a friendship that is strengthened by the boys’ adventure.

At first, the friendship didn’t seem to have a chance because Jackie is that kind of boy who can be in the “in” group if he wants to and Early is that kind of boy who can never be in that group in spite of any effort. But he’s happy enough not being in that group. Besides, he’s too busy plotting a story out of the (in)finite number of pi.

The first parts of the novel are concerned with school activities. There’s nothing adventurous, only episodes of boys dumping their friends so that they could prove to the rest that they are cool. One is inclined to think that, aside from the parallel story based on pi, more episodes of friendship tests will go on. But fantastical elements are introduced when Jackie tags along Early in his quest to find his brother, long believed to have died during WWII.

There are pirates, hunters, centenarians, bears, rattlesnakes, and more stuff that creates action and that also threatens to suspend the reader in disbelief. Who would have thought that the river voyage, which at the core is a navigation through Early, would involve all of these? I know that this is for younger readers who might still enjoy playing outdoor games, but really? That’s a lot of adventure. It sure looks that they had more fun than Huckleberry Finn, who is name-dropped by a semiliterate visionary of sorts whom the boys meet in the woods. This guy, the Norwegian Gunnar, mentions some of the lines that I like best in the book.

“No one say anything about knowing the names of the stars. No, the sky, it is not a contest or an exam. The only question is, can you look up? Can you take it all in? As for names of constellations, they are not the be-all and the end-all. The stars, they are not bound one to another. They are meant to be gazed upon. Admired, enjoyed. It is like the fly-fishing. Fly-fishing is not about catching the fish. It is about enjoying the water, the breeze, the fish swimming all around. If you catch one, good. If you don’t … that is even better. That mean you come out and get to try all over again!”

This is the first book that I read in the electronic format. I’m pretty sure that it has affected my reading. It felt like I was plodding through a TL;DR-ish post. My eyes hurt a lot. Good thing it isn’t that bad, but I wish I were 12 or younger.

[Read in January 2015.]
[3 out of 5 stars.]
[Epub.]

F2F37: Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

F2F37: Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

TFG's Author of the Month for December: William Shakespeare

TFG’s Author of the Month for December: William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare Face to Face Book Discussion Details:

  • Date: December 6, 2014
  • Place: The Usual Christmas Party Place, New Manila, Quezon City
  • Time: 2 PM to  12 AM
  • Discussion Leader: Aaron
  • Attendees: Me, Alexa, Alona, Cary, Ella, Gay, Gwaxa, Honey, Ingrid, JL, Joy, Julian (newbie), Kristel, Kwesi, Louize, Mae, Maria, Marie, Meliza, Monique, Ranee, Rhena, Rollie, Ruby, Tina, Tricia, Veronica
  • Food I Ate: This is also our book club’s Christmas Party so there was a lot of food. Unfortunately, my appetite was meh so I was only able to nibble small servings of Monique’s baked spaghetti and slivers of yema cake.
  • Activities: Hashtag Shirts (participants explain the hashtags they printed on their shirts), Truth or Lie (participants guess truth and the lie between two anecdotes shared by selected participants), Massacre Theatre (participants read small parts from various Shakespearean plays), and Dramatic Monologue (participants read their preferred monologue of their assigned Shakespearean character).
  • After the Book Discussion: Christmas dinner, The 3rd TFG Quiz Night (so far the damnedest among them all), and TFG Book Auction.
  • Other Nominated Books: None.
Discussion Time

Discussion Time

The F2F36 Attendees

The F2F36 Attendees

  • Next Month: Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool. If you wish to join us, please visit the discussion thread and the event thread for more details.

Photo courtesy of Louize.

By the way, I’m semi-retiring this feature. “Semi” because I plan to just integrate my review of our book of the month and the book club event into one.

Dwellers by Eliza Victoria

TFG’s Book of the Month for November: Dwellers by Eliza Victoria

Dwellers Face to Face Book Discussion Details:

  • Date: November 15, 2014
  • Place: Bayanihan Center, Mandaluyong City
  • Time: 4 PM to 5 PM
  • Discussion Leader: Tina
  • Attendees: Me, Aaron, Alexa, Billy, Cary, Doni, Ella, Gay, Gwaxa, Ingrid, Louize, Marie, MelizaMonique, Pre (newbie), Po, Ranee, Tricia, two girls whose names I didn’t get (sorry)
  • Food I Ate: None. There was no food at the venue.
  • Activities: If you could inhabit the body of another person, dead or alive, for one day, who would it be and why?
  • After the Book Discussion: Dinner at a Japanese restaurant and coffee at a nearby café.
  • Other Nominated Books: None.
The F2F35 Attendees

The F2F35 Attendees

  • Next Month: TFG’s Shakespeare Christmas Party. If you wish to join us, please visit the discussion thread and the event thread for more details.

Photo courtesy of Gay.

F2F34: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

TFG’s Book of the Month for October: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat Face to Face Book Discussion Details:

  • Date: October 25, 2014
  • Place: Wood Neighborhood Deli, Salcedo Village, Makati City
  • Time: 3 PM to 6 PM
  • Discussion Leader: Kristel
  • Attendees: Me, Aaron, Gwaxa, Louize, MelizaMonique, Ranee, Tina
  • Food I Ate: A chicken salad sandwich, brewed coffee.
  • Activities: A hat contest. I borrowed this horned hat from a friend and I won second place.
  • After the Book Discussion: Some of us had dinner at Robinson’s Galleria, which is two cities away. I suppose we are all allergic to Makati.
  • Other Nominated Books: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
Discussion Goodies

Discussion Goodies

The F2F34 Attendees

The F2F34 Attendees

  • Next Month: Dwellers by Eliza Victoria. It is one of the book club discussions that will take place during the Filipino ReaderCon 2014. If you wish to join us, please visit the discussion thread for more details.

Photos courtesy of Monique.

F2F33: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

TFG and FFP’s Book of the Month for September: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Joint Discussion Details:

  • Date: September 27, 2014
  • Place: Uno Morato, Tomas Morato Ave., Quezon City
  • Time: 2 PM to 6 PM
  • Discussion Leaders: Gege and Tina
  • Attendees from TFG: Me, Aaron, Elaine (newbie), Ella, Gwaxa, JL, KristelMaria (with Ramsey), Meliza, Tricia, Veronica.
  • Attendees from FFP: Arthur, Blooey, Cecille, Fredda, Honey, Maan, Marie (after), Peter, Rhett, Shani, a guy whose name I didn’t get (sorry).
  • Food I Ate: Sisig with clover chips (?).
  • Activities: Two truths, one lie with a bookish twist. Instead of truths, we wrote down two of our favorite books on colorful pieces of paper. And instead of a lie, we wrote down a book we didn’t like. We put the pieces of paper inside a small box from where we each drew one paper after the other and guessed the person to whom that list belong to. Also, we wrote ten books that were mentioned in the book. The first two (or three?) who finished won a cute pair of bookmarks. Yes, I was one of the winners.
  • After the Book Discussion: Dinner at Kanin Club and coffee at Seattle’s Best
  • Other Nominated Books: Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi and The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
Discussion Time

Discussion Time

The F2F33 Attendees

The F2F33 Attendees

  • Next Month: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks. If you wish to join us, please visit the discussion thread for more details.

Photos courtesy of Ella.