Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Mother-Daughter Dim Sum Book Club Rides on with THE HIDING PLACE

The inaugural Mother-Daughter Dim Sum Book Club meeting hit a bump right away: we had settled on the new Dim Sum Factory in Factoria, only to arrive and find it was not yet open. I suppose that's what the giant "Coming Soon" in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage meant--but how was I supposed to see that when I was distracted by pictures of food?

Pic from the website, not our table
 All was not lost. We made our way over to nearby Top Gun Seafood Restaurant, where, instead of Tom-Cruise-like fish and crabs in Ray-Bans and aviator jackets and Muzaked "Highway to the Danger Zone" playing in the background, we found a shaded room with dim sum carts making the rounds. The food was fine, the ice water minimal, the requested forks MIA.

And I'm afraid poor Emily of Deep Valley received similar marks. Here's the breakdown, on a score of 1-10 overall:

Me: 7.5
Other Mother (OM): 7.5-8
My 14YO: 7
OM's 15YO: 5 (!!!)
OM's 13YO: 5.5
My 11YO: 8

For an average overall score of 6.75. O di immortales! as Betsy or Carney would say. Why the ho-hum response from Other Mother's girls? The girls were too polite to say so specifically, but OM reported that they found it "boring" because "nothing happened." Which means the scores of 5-5.5 might actually have been inflated, so as not to hurt my feelings. Waaaaaah!!! I suppose this is what a fictional diet of Divergent and The Fault in our Stars will do to you. Crap, as Betsy or Carney would not say.

The tepid response, however, did not prevent us from having a decent discussion of our prep questions. Other Mother won for most thoughtful answers, and my 11YO won for raising her hand and interjecting the most, even when urged to hold back, but a good time was had by all. Some "hot" topics: how much did Don actually care for Emily? How good were Emily's friends? What did Emily actually have in common with the people from Little Syria?

Anyway, onward and upward. If Emily lacked action, surely The Hiding Place will make up for that. When things get a little slow, you can always turn to WWII and the Holocaust. The same questions apply, even for nonfiction, because all stories must be constructed and framed deliberately.

They HAVE redone the cover!

Title. What are the various meanings of "the hiding place" over the course of the book?

Setting. When and where is the book set? What time period does it cover? What sort of place is Holland before the War, and how does it and its people change?

Characters. How would you describe Corrie's life, up to the War? How was her family typical of the people around them, and how was it different? How would you characterize her father, sisters, brother, and aunts? What role does Karel play?

Character Development. How does Corrie change and grow, over the course of the story? How does her faith change and grow?

Conflict. What are the conflicts, large and small, which drive the story? What is at stake for Holland, the ten Booms, and Corrie herself, as the story goes on?

Themes. What are the recurring ideas of the book? I would say they are pretty big ones: good vs. evil. Faith vs. despair. Love vs. hate. Hope vs. despair. Trust vs. fear. Order vs. disorder. Revenge vs. forgiveness. Bitterness vs. healing. Look for places where you see these themes raised.

Symbolism/Foreshadowing. Even in nonfiction you can find these devices. Why is Mr. ten Boom's profession an appropriate one? What does it symbolize, in terms of his outlook on the world? What happens to the watch shop as time goes on? Can you find other examples of symbolism or foreshadowing as you read?

And finally, the paragraph-writing question (pick one):

1. What is the significance and symbolism of the ten Boom house "the Beje"? Why does the book go back into the history of the house and the family who lives there?

2. "We have a woman's watch here that needs repairing. But I can't find a mainspring." In Chapter 7, the book describes this "code" the family and network use to discuss Jews being hidden. How is this code both appropriate and symbolic? What do watches represent to the family? How might this reflect how God views people?

Have fun reading! I sure did at my recent bookstore event, from which I leave you a couple pictures:

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