Erika, Georgie, Annie & Milagros

A few days ago, my granddaughter, Erika, told me that she had read Growing Up In Mama’s Club. All thirty of the kids in her sixth-grade class were asked to read a book and make a book report. And, Erika had chosen Mama’s Club. She said that when her review was ready,  she’d email me a copy. I will share her book report in the next blog.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a picture of Erika and one of the more interesting characters in my book, Georgie. While I don’t have a photo of Georgie as a boy, this picture, taken fifty years later, will have to do. The photograph was taken in Italy in the summer of 2006, during our stay at a villa in Noce Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, in the heart of Tuscany. You will also see Georgie’s vivacious wife, Milagros and our book reviewer’s younger sister, Annie. Double click on the picture to enlarge it.

A Third Printing of Mama’s Club

Shortly before leaving Grand Rapids to head for our winter home in Tucson, I started thinking about the third printing of Growing Up In Mama’s Club which I would have to do before the year was out. And because I’m still big into ”continuous improvement,” I thought about ways to improve the book.

It’s then that I received the following Michele DeVoe Lussky review: “Kelly’s book is an amazing glimpse into the Jehovah’s Witness sub-culture as well as a touching coming-of-age tale. It was at times disturbing, saddening, and hilarious — it was always enlightening — and in the end it proved to be uplifting.”

Knowing that Michele was a freelance writing consultant and author of the well-written, touching poem to my daughter, Kim, on her 40th birthday, I asked if she’d be willing to give me some critique to make the third printing of Mama’s Club even better. She liked the idea.

After some nice perfunctory comments about the book, she got right down to business. As a result of her advice, I have decided that I will get rid of the excessive use of italics. Instead, a Glossary of Club Words & Jargon will be added to the back of the book. There will be an Epilogue. I will share more sensory details and memorabilia for the time I lived in Nebraska and at Bethel. I’ve improved the dialogue to make it more genuine. I’ve added more Club history. The reader will learn more about Helen and our five-year-writing courtship. And I’ve added an interesting conversion story about Johnny Morrow and his family. This new, third edition will be available in January.

A Reading Group Discussion Guide

A Reading Group Discussion Guide for Growing Up In Mama’s Club is now available at the bottom of the Home and Biography pages of the www.richardekelly.com website. There is a “page view” version that can easily be seen on any computer and is searchable by Google and Yahoo. There is also a PDF version for quick printing. Actually both are printable in most cases.  But if your printer gives you problems, you can use the PDF version. If you don’t have Acrobat Reader, then you can use the page view version.

Question 12 on the Guide asks the readers, “Do you believe that only unintelligent people are attracted to the Club? Why do you feel this way?” It was this question that generated a long, interesting discussion at one of the Book Clubs that I met with in October. How would you respond to these questions?

One young woman told me rather spiritedly that before she read the book, she always thought Jehovah’s Witnesses weren’t very smart. Then after getting to know Mama, she had changed her mind. It wasn’t that these people didn’t have good minds. Its that they consciously chose not to use their thinking skills, abdicating instead to have someone else make those decisions. She thought it was a little scary, reminding her how important it was to be able to question what she was told by the leaders of the church she attended without being made to feel guilty.

After reviewing the Reading Group Guide, I would be very interested in knowing your suggestions for making the Guide as user friendly as possible. What would you add, delete, or change? You can respond to me in this blog or by emailing me at parkerridgepubs@aol.com.

My Daughter Kim

My daughter, Kim, celebrated her 40th year of life, and bringing joy to her mother and me, on July 6, 2007. It was a special day for Kim, and she received her fair share of birthday gifts and greetings. However, I suspect that the most long lasting and touching gift of all will be a poem she received from Michele DeVoe Lussky. Addressed “For Kim:” it reads:

“Indiana walks – forest talks and the trees

don’t only whisper the secrets

so do you in your laugh in your gait in your stride and your wide

open heart

opens to it all

Striding into the depths you ease me

release me, you are my

friend

Now the gatherings, breaking

bread and barriers

-and life is so limitless to you, I get caught up and am

aloft

It isn’t the wine.

When did I find you or you find me and that joy between us

and so many more?

When did you become so

much more?

To me.

We work together

for others

for us

for each other

and play together

perhaps forever.

The honesty, integrity, reality of you, Kim, enchants me, lifts me, heartens me. You are a wonderful friend. Thank you for being born!

With Love,

Michele”