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books, Buzz Book Club, January Buzz Book Club, Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout

Buzz Book Club: Amy and Isabelle, Section One


Hello, Buzz Book Club readers! How are you enjoying Elizabeth Strout's novel so far? I'm already absorbed in these characters' lives and I like the whole "small town gossip" feel of it. We'll get into a deeper discussion after the jump.

First, here's a recap of how the Book Club goes if you're new: Every week I'll suggest chapters to complete by the next post (which, in this case, will go up every Friday in January). In these weekly Book Club posts, I'll posit a few questions to prompt discussion in the comments section.

Of course, you are always welcome to read beyond the weekly chapters, but please don't spoil anything in the comments! After the jump you'll find some questions that struck me as I read this section.

The next assignment: Read from the start of chapter eight to the end of chapter 18 (stop before chapter 19). We'll chat about this section a week from today, January 23.

To discuss the first section of Amy and Isabelle, in which we read from the start of the book through chapter seven, read more.

  1. Right off the bat, when Fat Bev notices Amy's hair has been cut short, I was intrigued. I think it is such a smart way for the author to immediately add a little page-turning suspense. What about you? Did that mean something to you right away?
  2. I'm intrigued by the brief mention of how Isabelle came to Shirley Falls, her wedding ring, the husband that died, etc. Do you get the sense her history will be important to the story?
  3. The run-in with Barbara Rawley at the A&P is revealing. That feeling Amy has of pitying her mother's nonexistent social life and sort of hating her for it at the same time is really relatable. Do you think the author captures the conflicting emotions of being a teenager (and the complex feelings that a teenage daughter has toward her mother) with this scene?
  4. Speaking of Amy's mother, how do you perceive Isabelle as a character? Is she sympathetic as a single mom who's a little socially awkward and shy? Or do you find her embarrassingly pathetic due to things like her secret crush on Avery?
  5. Finally, this section ends with Amy giving Mr. Robertson a kiss on the cheek. Do you feel like this guy is shady? Have his actions, thus far, been inappropriate? Do you think the way he talks to his students is motivational or harmful?
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