Monday, January 30, 2006

February 2006 Book Pick: My Sister's Keeper

Family relationships come in all sorts of textures and hues. There are the happy ones, the sad ones, the frustrating ones and sometimes the non-existent ones. But what would happen if you realized that the prime reason why you existed in the family was so that another family member could live? That’s the premise of our next book pick: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult.

Picoult takes on the question of bioethics and asks what does it mean to be a good parent, a good sister and a good family member. The Fitzgerald family decides to conceive a child so that she could be a genetic match and help save their daughter who is battling leukemia. By the time Anna turns 13-years-old, she has had countless surgeries, bone marrow and blood transfers to help keep her sister Kate alive. Even though she loves Kate very much, when the parents plan a kidney transplant between the two sisters, she decides that enough is enough. Anna sues to stop her parents from using her as a genetic parts depot. That tears the family apart and the consequences of Anna’s decision are very real and potentially lethal. It’s clear she loves her family very much and you can feel the torment of her decision. In the meantime, you can see how the rest of the family is fracturing at the seams. Jesse, the neglected oldest child of the family, is out setting fires, which his firefighter father, Brian, in an ironic twist, puts out. In the midst of this is Sara, the family’s mom, who is fiercely and steadfastly devoted to the oldest daughter’s chance of survival.

My Sister’s Keeper brings in a whole host of characters, each of who gets to tell their side of the story in their own voice. It’s a riveting read that captures you from the first chapter. We invite you to join us on Monday, February 27, 2006 at 7PM at Joseph-Beth Booksellers at SouthPark Mall for coffee, dessert and dynamic discussion about this intriguing book. To RSVP, please log on to:

Book Extra: The Virgin's Guide to Everything

Hello all!

Sometimes you come across a delightful book that you must share with your friends. "The Virgin's Guide to Everything" is just that sort of book. And no, it's not for those kind of virgins. It's for novices. And face it, everyone is a novice at something. If you've never eaten sushi, asked your boss for a raise, trekked around the world alone or done something truly adventurous, this book is for you.

The book's author, Lauren McCutcheon is a delightful young woman who recently came all the way to Charlotte to do a reading at one of the world's best book store, Joseph-Beth Booksellers at SouthPark Mall. She had lots to say about this truly useful book!

Photo Credit: Chris Meck

Q: How did you get involved with the "Virgin's" book and concept?

The idea for the Virgin's Guide first belonged to a couple of in-the- biz girlfriends — one whom I knew and loved, another whom I was about to know and love. My pals were looking for someone to develop it into a book. The concept sounded great, but I was wary. I'd never written a whole book before. I guess you could say I was a virgin author, and those, more experienced friends were my book-writing go-to girls!

Q: What do you want readers to walk away with knowing after reading the book?

The book packs in a whole lot of information. I don't expect readers to become gemologists, or instant wahines. I do hope that the book makes readers feel more confident about facing a brand-new first, that the information reassures them that they can ask for — and get — that raise, that they can make it through a yoga class. A Virgin's Guide aims to give a boost for a bunch of achievable, everyday first times — and assure my readers that they have an absolute right to unlimited do-overs!

Q: What was the thing that surprised you the most in writing the book?

Aside from my amazement at being able to write a book, at all? All in all, I learned hundreds of nuggets of information, things that seemed obvious once I heard them, but didn't occur to me until I interviewed experts. For example, Dara Johnson, a camping instructor from Appalachian Mountain Club, confirmed my suspicion that the number one reason that women fear camping is, well, numbers one and two. (And Dara told me how to get over it.) Dr. Dina Anderson, our resident dermatologist, said it was totally fine to go to a skin doctor for a single pimple, and Suzanne Schlosberg, author of an amazing book about her experiences with called "The Curse of the Singles Table," gave such sensible advice about online dating: Don't become attached to another online dater until you meet face to face; don't plan a whole big date before you meet up (just go for a 15 minute coffee), and whatever you do, don't give up the search.

Q: What's next for you?

There are so many places to go from here. The website: is growing in leaps and bounds. My fellow virgins and I are gathering loads of ideas for future guides. And me, I'm still striving to do one new thing every day — or at least, every week.