Members present: See above
Venue: Marie's lovely abode at SML. Menu included sangrias, summer salad with pomegranate dressing, chicken wraps, and potato salad, all freshly made. And Denise brought the cupcakes below for dessert! (Creme Brûlée, Tiramasu, Chocolate, Coconut Lime, Red Velvet, and Wedding cupcakes)
We all enjoyed our time with Hazel Grace and Augustus. Many of us thought the book was going to be sappy and superficial, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover that was actually existential and poetic. The title came from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," and John Green refers to a lot of poems that I haven't heard since English class. I still don't know what the one about the red wheelbarrow is supposed to mean. "An Imperial Affliction" is not a real book. I looked it up.
We were all impressed by how mature Augustus and Hazel's love was for one another. I thought it was interesting that Hazel admitted that had they lived a long, normal life together, their love wouldn't have been as special--similar to the affair in Bridges of Madison County (awesome movie, if you haven't seen it!). We had a similar discussion to the one in the book about whether you need pain to experience joy. Some people said yes. Hazel says no: "The Existence of broccoli in no way affects the taste of chocolate." I agree with Hazel, but the reality is, we don't get a choice of one or the other. They still probably would have known joy together had they not been sick, but the cancer certainly intensified their experience of it.
Marie saw the movie and was struck by how much the terminally ill person worries about the well-being of their loved ones. People shared their personal experiences of loved ones who have passed and reflected on how they knew when it was ok to let go. Some of them were watching sporting events on TV with their loved ones at the time. I'm not sure what to make of that.
We liked the parts where Augusts and Grace got to hear each other's eulogies. I thought the scene where Hazel and Isaac were reading their eulogies for Augustus was actually hilarious. I didn't not cry in the book but I hear that the movie is a real tear-jerker, so I'll bring my kleenex.
I read quotes from the book that I enjoyed--some of which are profound but I'm not sure what they mean. The best discussion came from the one where they were writing the ad for the swing set. We all talked about how we used to try to swing all the way around. And, perhaps even more stupidly, we would swing as fast as we could and then jump off, onto the gravel or concrete or some other painful surface. Well, Marie did, at least. I actually wasn't that stupid.
We also talked about how much more freedom we had to run around unaccompanied as kids. Marie was the winner in this category as well, traveling several towns over without her parents' knowledge. I asked everyone if they thought parents were more vigilant today because their kids really are more likely to be kidnapped or because of heightened awareness, fewer kids, change in parenting, etc. We also talked about whether our mothers were motherly and whether they would have wanted to have kids if they were given a choice. Interestingly, people who didn't have motherly moms did not choose to have children of their own.
We didn't have to discuss possible cast members since it's already a movie--a popular movie with good reviews and is reportedly true to the book. I plan on seeing it soon. The only recognizable actress was Laura Dern, who Marie said was very good as Hazel's mom. Isaac was also cuter than he seemed to be in the book, according to Marie. The scene where they throw eggs at his ex's car sounds like it did justice to the description in the book.
We also had a discussion of which books were hard to say good-bye to. This was one of them for most of us. I wish I could be friends with Alice in "What Alice Forgot" and the therapist who has empathy for her stalker in "The Hypnotist's Love Story," both by Liane Moriarty. Denise liked the couple in "Me Before You." Marie really liked the beekeepers in "The Secret Life of Bees," so we chose that book for our next meeting so that Marie can spent time with them again.
Denise told us all about her escapades in the Honduras. Great place for scuba diving and snorkeling, but apparently the food isn't that great.
Annette told us about how she fulfilled her prediction that she would meet Brad Gilbert when she went to California last week. Marie and I made a similar declaration about getting Federer's picture at Cincy this year, and Annette was giving us some inspirational advice. Dream big or aim high or something. I can't remember exactly what it was. But Marie sees Federer every time she goes, so I'm liking our chances.
Gina is soon to be the grandmother of a baby girl. Lauren already has her name picked out but I forgot what it was. Karen is going to be an aunt to a baby girl, as well.
I got on my soap box and went off about the people who do and do not deserve to be tipped, in my opinion. I apologize if I seemed self-righteous or otherwise offensive. After writing my blog post on Mental Hygiene, I've become acutely paranoid about sneezing on people.
Surprisingly, we did not talk that much about tennis or any of you, although there has been some discussion of whether there needs to be a minimum attendance policy to remain in the book club, just so you know. I think at minimum you have to participate by commenting on the blog post about the meeting if you did not attend. No final decisions have been made at this time.
I'll let Marie decide what to do for the venue for "The Secret Life of Bees." Which is also a movie, in case anyone wants to cheat. Annette might be interested in hosting our next meeting at Legoland in Florida.