Our October book club book was The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. The son of a Pentecostal preacher faces his personal demons as he and his two outcast friends try to make it through their senior year of high school in rural Forrestville, Tennessee, without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. The book was a 2018-2019 Gateway Nominee and Zentner was awarded the William C. Morris Debut YA Award Winner of 2017.
It is so good! Seriously, I have not met anyone that did not like it. It made me cry in public, the Vermont airport to be exact and another person messaged me mid-day to let me know that the book was an “emotional kicker.” Trying to work and get through this book did not prove easy for her, she was enough of a mess that my daughter made me bring her a copy to read, “I saw how much it messed her up and I want in on it.” It is just about life as a teen; life when you don’t fit in. But I think it goes beyond a teen issue, if we are all honest with ourselves, most of us struggle with this on a daily basis. We just want to be accepted for who we are, even if we might enjoy being introverts, no one wants to be outcast.
It might seem that this bookworm is too late. Seriously, why share a great book club choice, post book club? There is a great reason for my madness!!
On October 28th at 6:00pm, Jeff Zentner will be at the Morgan County Library! Yep, right here in our little ol’ town. Miquela Chandler the Information Literacy Specialist (or in old school talk, the librarian) for Morgan County RI received an author visit grant from the Missouri State Library. Part of his visit includes 3 talks, she offered us one of them! Isn’t that awesome!?
If you have not had a chance to read his work, we ordered extra copies of The Serpent King through our interlibrary loan service. We also have all 3 of his books in our physical collection; The Serpent King, Goodbye Days and his most recent book, Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee. OverDrive has Zentner in digital form, currently all 3 eBooks and audios for his first 2 books. If you don’t get a chance to read anything before the 28th, please do not let that keep you from attending. I have attended 2 book club meetings when I have not even finished or let along cracked the book open and I still had a lovely time.
I preach constantly about reading to learn about others. The Serpent King is an excellent example of why this is important. This book gives us a glimpse into the lives of 3 very different people; you might find similarities with yourself or more importantly you might learn why someone else is not like you. My favorite part of this story is how these outcasts are friends to one another, even when it is not always easy. So often we enjoy finding our place in the pecking order, shame on us.
I am so excited to hear the story behind the story. This is our chance, a moment of insight, a chance to see where a story comes from. I have always loved listening to stories; just like the books they sometimes come in. They help us understand. I will never forget one of the first artist statements I was moved by, it was a room full of glass, a scene that made you want to put on protective gloves and grab a broom, then I read why. It was beautiful, I got it. Most of us just walk around with our stories in our head, we don’t share them, we just live them. Then there are the artists, the ones brave enough to show us.
Please mark your calendar, come listen to this artist, hear his story.