Friday, August 5, 2016

The Boys by John Terpstra - Discussion Highlights

What we liked about the book:

  • we liked the way the book was told as a series of memories about the boys; the short poetic chapters in non-chronological order work for the kind of story that he tells
  • we like the very real affection for his brothers-in-law that comes through in the story.  Although we had a hard time keeping track of who said what because of all the nicknames they used, we enjoyed getting to know them and having a "visit" with these lively characters. 
  • we liked the way the the memories really celebrate the life of the boys and show how each life and each day is valuable - despite their hardships and pain.  The family never sound resentful of the work required and each death leaves a huge hole in the family.
  • we liked the subtle ways that Terpstra weaves faith into the story, so that it's clear that  their faith helps them cope.

What we didn't like about the book:

  • we had mixed feelings about the The Boss's role in the family; some of us felt that he did as much as he could cope with, while others felt that he kind of let the family down by withdrawing from them into his own "apartment" at the side of the house
  • we also had mixed feelings about the poetry selections in the book; some of us felt that the poetry read like an interruption to the story.  Others enjoyed the simpler poems by Terpstra's wife, but found his poetry to be too obscure.

What we ate:

  • food can be such a comfort in grief, and we enjoyed some sandwiches, scones, wine and cheese puff, and veggies and dip, and ice tea.  We ended the evening with a bit of sweetness with chocolate trifle, apple crisp and vanilla milkshakes for a hot summer evening.

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