2018

Book Club Notes – Birthday by Meredith Russo – Spoilers!

It’s interesting to see what other people find important in books and how peculiar people are in relation to what you find normal or acceptable. For this book, I found some of my book club members had so odd things to say. But hey that’s just me.

Overall

Overall the comment for the book was positive. There were a few discussion points and some disagreements but in general, it was positive. Most negative comment to this book was about the elements which makes this a Young Adult book e.g. the easy language, the distance to the parents and they seem to not care enough or want to much, and how one parent is the supervillain. All very typical YA literature elements.

In comparison to the other meeting, this book had a lot more comments and people had a lot more to say hence the length of this document.

General stats

8 people attending
Of those 8, 6 people liked it, 1 person disliked it, 1 person neither liked it nor disliked it.

The person who disliked it thinks it’s because she was reading Vanity Fair at the same time and Birthday became to simple in comparison.

The person who neither liked nor disliked it said they felt it was a book for getting a message across without any depth or exploration of the message.

Neither of these realised the book we read was a YA contemporary, which means a Young Adult book (aka for teenagers). And the use of easy language became clear.

Comments on the story

For the main story, some found it difficult to set, timewise. Was it now, was it in the past? But then a Motorola Razo was introduced which they loved. Who doesn’t love a flip phone?

Also, in general, the book was easy to read, and people flew through it. A handful of sitting was the timescale for most people.

The birthday letters were sweet and interesting and important to the story. But the last letter was a bit too obviously de-gendered. And the cookbook element, in the end, was super good ad we all liked that the chocolate cake had an important romantic repetition in the story.

Character comments

Morgan

There seemed to be more comments about Morgan which was probably due to her struggle to live as her true self. Some people found it difficult to fully understand how she felt and therefore it was difficult to be in her shoes. However, the teenage angst descriptions were well done there was a good use of language in relation to her mental state and her confusion. Then when she started to transition the language also changed, and the way she describes herself changed. It went for hardly any descriptions during Morgan as a boy to it being a lot more colourful and richer during her transition stages. It was an excellent writing technique to highlight a positive change.

Several people were yelling mentally for Morgan to “just tell Eric already”, but then we are all adults and teenage angst is far behind us.

Morgan’s hyper-masculine phase was very fascinating and tend to fit with teenagers and who turns to the mainstream attitude when they are confused about who they are. We all felt this was very true and well described in the book.

During Morgan’s breakdown, several people on the group felt it was very good, well-described and highly emotional.

Eric

We all seemed to like Eric as a person/character. He was nice and good. We liked his teenage gay confusion and how he treated Morgan when she came out. The coming out scene was super sweet and lovable.

However, Eric’s girlfriend was someone we split in opinions on. Some people really liked her and thought she was super cute, while others felt she was a fake and sickly sweet. Even though she is not depicted as a villain she could easily have been one it the focused changed.

In the end, we had one question about Eric: Did Eric have long hair because of Morgan?

Parents

As with YA adults don’t always seem to be present most of the time and might even be a villain. In this book, we felt Eric dad was the ultimate supervillain. Someone for a cartoon. Someone “with blond curls and a rugged chin” type smug villain. However, Eric’s dad clearly saw Eric football scholarship as the only way up and out and did whatever he could to steer him in that way. Maybe not all methods were the best. Eric’s mum didn’t either seem to care too much as she just left leaving Eric in the house with his dad by himself. However, it was a great literature technique to create tension in the book which helped to build the climax.

Morgan’s parents were a bit different. We are all adults and felt Morgan’s dad probably has enough to deal with losing his wife even though Morgan felt a bit abandoned. But that teenage life for you.

But we did discuss for a long time what would have happened to Morgan or how the story would have changed if Morgan’s mum didn’t die. The debate was interesting. Some of us felt the mother would have accepted Morgan and would have been approachable, but some disagreed and thought she would act in a different way and didn’t think the story would have changed much if the mum was also in the picture.

Ending

The ending was lovely and super sweet. Some people felt the ending was a bit unrealistic, but it was so sweet the unrealistic element became a positive thing. But aren’t most romantic novels unrealistic in the end anyway? Someone mentioned how the ending felt like a fairy tale and it was beautiful but easy. No one felt unhappy about the ending. Now, the ending might have been a rosy one but at least it can give trans teenagers hope that it is possible to meet someone who accepts you completely. Though some people didn’t think it would last.

I forgot to ask who cried whilst reading this book. But I did!

We ended the meeting talking about the author Meredith Russo and her previous book. Some were interested in picking it up and made library request there and then. Some were not.

Book club meeting success!!

Until next time; happy reading!

3 thoughts on “Book Club Notes – Birthday by Meredith Russo – Spoilers!

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