How to participate:

At the beginning of each month we will post a picture of the selected book. Throughout the month you can take pictures as you read. If you tag us/use the #MARLreads on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter we will repost your picture. During this time of social isolation we will post two books for each month. Please feel free to contact us (Sandra@marl.mb.ca) to suggest books or hold a virtual book club with your group or organization. 

Near the end of the month we’ll post discussion questions that you can answer in the comments section. 

How to participate as a classroom: 

Select a book from MARL’s booklist on our website, or read along with us for our selected book of the month. Add your email to our book club email list and we will send you discussion questions to guide your class.

Schedule a discussion with your class or group: Book a one-hour educational workshop in zoom to accompany the reading material. 

May Books

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever. Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever. The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. 

Why we chose this book: This book looks at the intersections of working through individual identity and recovering from a large life event. Hurricane Katrina changed Ramona’s family and economic security significantly. This book looks at how people adapt to new situations and challenges. As families are facing shifting social norms and economic barriers due to the COVID-19 we are learning to adapt to our new lives. Ramona is also trying to understand her sexuality and how it affects the relationships around her. The book provides insight into the multiple layers of complexity that we experience during significant life changes. In the book we see Ramona looking for hope and how to navigate various social systems in a new way.

Food for thought:

1. In what ways did Hurricane Katrina change Ramona’s life?

2. How did this event change her relationships with her parents?

3. What strategies did Ramona take to adapt to her new life?

4. How did reuniting with Freddie change Ramona’s last year in High School?

  *There are several digital copies of this book at the Winnipeg Library.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

 Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

 Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
 
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
 
Why we chose this book: This book explores issues with mental health and family relationships. As discussion on mental health are slowly losing their stigma, it is important to raise awareness on these issues. With the current social isolation some people have lost important support structures in their lives. This book looks at the events that can trigger mental health issues and ways to find hope in these difficult times.
 
Food for Thought:
1. What life events impacted the characters mental health?
2. Who in their lives supported them and how?
3. Where did the youth find hope?
4. What additional supports would have helped these youth in their journey?
 
*There are several digital copies of this book at the Winnipeg Library.

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