The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls

by Julie Schumacher


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I'm Adrienne Haus, survivor of a mother-daughter book club. Most of us didn't want to join. My mother signed me up because I was stuck at home all summer, with my knee in a brace. CeeCee's parents forced her to join after cancelling her Paris trip because she bashed up their car. The members of "The Unbearable Book Club," CeeCee, Jill, Wallis, and I, were all going into eleventh grade A.P. English. But we weren't friends. We were literary prisoners, sweating, reading classics, and hanging out at the pool. If you want to find out how membership in a book club can end up with a person being dead, you can probably look us up under mother-daughter literary catastrophe. Or open this book and read my essay, which I'll turn in when I go back to school.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385737739
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 05/08/2012
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

JULIE SCHUMACHER is the author of several highly acclaimed children's books. She is a professor of English at the University of Minnesota.

Read an Excerpt

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls

By Julie Schumacher

Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2012 Julie Schumacher
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780385737739

“The Yellow Wallpaper”

1. SETTING: The place where the author puts the characters. It’s like setting a table, except that instead of using plates and silverware, you’re using people.

On our first day of membership in what CeeCee would later call the Unbearable Book Club, I was sitting in a plastic lounge chair at the West New Hope, Delaware, community pool, reading a dog-eared copy of “The Yellow Wallpaper.” According to the thermometer on the lifeguard stand, it was ninety-seven degrees. My hands were sweating so much they left stains on the pages.

CeeCee paused by the empty recliner next to mine. She was wearing a white crocheted bikini and dark sunglasses, and I saw a copy of “The Yellow Wallpaper” sticking out of her polka-dot bag. CeeCee’s thighs didn’t touch at the top, I noticed. We weren’t friends.

“Don’t you think we’re too old for this?” she asked.

I wasn’t sure she was talking to me: I wasn’t the sort of person CeeCee Christiansen usually talked to. The two of us chatting? It was like a dolphin hanging out with a squirrel. “It wasn’t my idea,” I said as a river of sweat worked its way down my spine. “I think our mothers set it up. They were in a yoga class together.”

CeeCee didn’t glance in my direction. She unponytailed her long blond hair and let it fall toward the ground like a satin curtain. “Believe me,” she said. “It wasn’t my mother’s idea. She doesn’t have the imagination.”

“Good to know.” I wiped my hands on my towel.

Twenty feet from the edges of our chairs, across a stretch of cement too hot to stand on, the pool flashed and glittered, a turquoise rectangle full of multicolored bodies leaping in and out of the water like flying fish.

CeeCee was staring at one of the lifeguards, who was staring back at her and twirling his whistle around his finger on a string: three twirls to the right, three to the left. She had apparently finished talking to me, so I picked up my book.

“You’re actually reading it.” She sat down and took the cap off a bottle of sunblock. When I turned toward her she smiled a closed-lipped smile, making me think of an alligator sunning itself on a riverbank.

“That’s the assignment,” I said. “We have to read ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and four other books.”

“And learn a list of literary terms and write an essay,” CeeCee said. “This teacher’s insane. No one else assigns that kind of homework during the summer. I don’t care if it is AP.”

I squeegeed the sweat from my eyebrows with an index finger. I didn’t mind doing the reading--whatever I read would be more interesting than my day-to-day life--but I wasn’t looking forward to the essay. Most of the papers I wrote for school came back with suggestions in the margins about how my ideas could be organized. “I can’t find an argument here,” my tenth-grade history teacher had said.

“So you’re not going to read the books?” I asked CeeCee. I didn’t know Ms. Radcliffe yet, but she had a reputation for being stern and precise. I imagined her snapping a steel-edged ruler on my desk.

“It doesn’t matter if you read them.” CeeCee squirted a white ribbon of lotion onto her stomach. “Most of the books we read for school are crap. I usually just read the summary online, or I read the first couple of pages and then skip to the end.” She glanced at my copy of “The Yellow Wallpaper.” “You’re planning to read the whole thing?”

“I think that’s the point of a book,” I said. “You start at the beginning and you read to the end.” I hadn’t learned how to read until the middle of first grade, and I still felt grateful to my teacher, Ms. Hampl, who had knelt by my desk one afternoon and smoothed her finger across the parallel rows of two-dimensional black marks in my book--and as if she had opened a hidden door, I felt the patterned surface break and give way, and the words let me in. I still loved opening a book and feeling like I was physically entering the page, the ordinary world fizzing and blurring around the edges until it disappeared.

“You don’t have to take Advanced Placement,” I pointed out.

“Right. Only the helpless take regular English.” CeeCee squeezed some lotion onto her arms, which were thin and hairless. “AP classes have two kinds of kids in them: the kids who are smart, and the kids who don’t want to spend the year in a room full of losers. Do you have a four-oh?”

“A four-oh grade average? No.” I wasn’t sure what my average was. Teachers often referred to me as a student with “a lot of potential.” This meant they expected me to be smart; but in fact my mind was often packing a mental suitcase and wandering off on its own. I sometimes pictured all the things I had learned during the previous week at school jumping into brightly painted railroad cars and disappearing into the distance on a speeding train.

CeeCee scanned the perimeter of the pool, presumably for more-worthwhile people to talk to. The pickings were slim. “So what’s your deal?” she asked. “I don’t really know you. Who are you supposed to be?”

Who was I supposed to be? I was Adrienne Haus. I was fifteen. I lived in West New Hope with my mother, who had signed me up for a summer book club. Now I was reading--or trying to read--a book at the pool.


Excerpted from The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher Copyright © 2012 by Julie Schumacher. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2012:
“The characters, especially the four girls, sparkle…. Smart and insightful.”

VOYA, April 2012:
"Required summer reading never seemed so exciting before."

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May 2012:

"Schumacher, author of the compelling Black Box, deftly allows elements of The Yellow Wallpaper, Frankenstein, The House on Mango Street, and The Awakening to infuse Adrienne’s thinking as she immerses herself in them and as her own story unfurls alongside them. The result is a story that explores the way books can and can’t inform lives, as Adrienne’s summer leads to some surprising, even tragic events; that makes this a natural for book-club discussion by reluctant and eager attendants alike."

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The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls 2.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
ImaginaryReads More than 1 year ago
I was excited to read this book because of the topic: a book club. The four girls brought together by the club belong to different social groups and bring their unique perspectives to the club. I thought that interacting with each other would teach the girls something and bring to light some universal idea. I kept waiting for something to happen, but nothing really happens. Even the chapter titled “climax” turns out to be another record of what happens during the summer of the book club. While Adrienne writes about each of the girls in the club and even participates in investigations into the girls’ lives, I never really felt like I got to know any of the girls. Adrienne confesses early on that she doesn’t know who she is, and she tries to investigate her past; however, she never clarifies if she figures out the truth. Her relationship with the other girls is the same. She talks to them, but everything feels staged and unreal. The characters’ motivations aren’t clearly defined. Much of the book is spent with Adrienne reading the books and discussing what’s happening in the novel before finally mulling over them. I’ve read some of the books, and I don’t want to read a novel discussing the books read in the book club. Outside of books and the clubs, it feels as though the other girls, especially CeeCee, drag Adrienne around. Her only heroic moment is when she spends nine minutes trying to revive a drowning “victim.” While teenagers go through times when they don’t know who they are, I want to read a book with a plot—where the characters go through change. The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls is a summer read that I won’t be recommending.
majibookshelf More than 1 year ago
I don't have a lot to say about this book. I'm not even going write the title in my review because it's just to long. Anyways, this book started off like any other contemporary book. It was normal. I'm not even sure what the main plot of the book was, other than it having a book club. The main protagonist, Adriennce, is forced to go to a mother-daughter book club with her mom. She meets the other girls there, and they sort of become acquaintances. Their relationship with each other was really weird for me to decipher. Some of the characters really annoyed me. They were bossy, naggy, and just mean. I was waiting for something major to get me excited about reading the book, but sadly there was nothing. If there was something, I sure didn't realize it. It felt like I was reading an everyday life book, and to me, even my every day life would be boring to read about. I didn't get the typical message contemporary writers try to convey to the readers. I did think about stopping the book and not finish reading it, but it had something that just made me want to know what the ending of the book will be. I do have to say that it had some interesting parts, so I wasn't bored throughout the entire book. I don't know if I might pick up the next book by the author, but if you're a contemporary reader, do give it a try!
RaeLynn_Fry More than 1 year ago
4.5/5 This book was a fun, fast read. Very entertaining and engaging. Very funny. The voice of our MC, Adrienne (I can’t help but channel Rocky Balboa’s voice every time I say her name, so, from now on, I’ll refer to her as A like CeeCee does in the book), is sarcastic and witty. The main thing I want to know is this, how the heck do I become friends with CeeCee? This character is G.R.E.A.T. Not even kidding. She’s the “queen bee” from school and has decided to honor A with her friendship, even though A doesn’t want it. Her personality is entitled, snooty, snarky, funny, and stuck-up without being a putt-off (hence my friendship request). Julie did such a fun and wonderful job making each of the four girls real and complex and deep. Their interaction together over the summer because of the book club is 100% what I remember from my high school days. Even the way they disbanded when it was over natural. Wallis is a bit of a creepy yet ambiguous character. I never quite got the feel for her, I thought one thing, but then that never played through. That happened a few times during the story. Did I mention I really love CeeCee? Cuz if I didn’t, I do. Good descriptions. Funny lines all over the place. Fast-moving plot. Loved, loved, loved this book. Great lines: • When I turned toward her she smiled a closed-lipped smile, making me think of an alligator sunning itself on a riverbank. (ebook pg 11) • If a bear could be trained to talk, I thought, it would sound like Wallis (ebook pg 42) • My mouth was a saliva-filled marsh, boggy with pockets of vomit and gin (ebook pg 123) • Listening to the noise of the pool in the background—the shouting, the whistling, the general commotion—I thought, I am a lonely person. That’s why I read books. (ebook pg 189) A is a great example of strong female character without being strong in the stereotypical sense. Even though she doesn’t know who she is and she’s experimenting, deep down she’s consistent and the same reliable, unbending (constant) person. One thing I was unsatisfied with, though, was the fact that Willis kind of felt like a throw away character to me. I mean, I know the mystery of her character was there to push A into discovering deep down who she was, but I also wanted to know about Willis, and we never got that far. I felt a bit cheated, I’ll be honest. We were never given a picture at the end of the book about what actually was going on with Wallis, which, I guess, is okay, but really, I’m not okay with it. Okay! What’s my usual disclaimer? That’s right! Pick it up and read it for yourself. :) Happy reading, my friends! RaeLynnFry.Blogspot
showmegirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fiction; Juvenile2 starsFour girls brought together for a "bookclub" arranged by their Mothers. The idea was good but the execution was lacking. The story was rather hum-drum and not what I expected at all. Lots of stereotyping in the characters made for a plot that seemed un-original and weak. I felt no real bond with the characters or even between the characters for that matter. (As I read the book, I began to wonder if that was something the author was trying to attain or not)I did enjoy how the author laid out the book using the word/definition format at the beginning of each chapter. While it did give me a brief sense of hope for the book, overall the story was uninspiring and rather boring. It had the makings of a good book, unfortunately it left a lot to be desired.
ljldml on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
received this book from NetGalley for review A unique and insightful story. We begin in Delaware during summer vacation. Adrienne Haus had planned to spend vacation with her best friend Liz, but due to an accident involving her knee, she is stuck at home. Her mother enrolls Adrienne into a mother daughter bookclub consisting of the two of them and three other girls with their mothers. CeeCee is the popular cheerleader type. She likes to lead everyone around. She is not happy about the bookclub but tries to make the best of it. Jill is an adopted Asian girl. She is the 'smart' one. She has her entire life planned out and is not afraid to tell everyone her plans. Wallis is the enigma. She is a loner who enrolled herself into the club. Her mother is never able to attend meetings, and is never seen in the story. You can imagine what kinds of things the other girls think about Wallis's mother never being around. Is she in the witness protection program?...You get the idea. These four girls are individuals who would most likely never interact with each other while in school. They are from four different 'groups' and would rarely even cross paths in school. They become closely entangled in each others lives, for better or worse.This book is very well written. It is not a fast paced novel, but it did manage to capture and hold my interest. I was not able to identify with any of the characters. I kept waiting for something big to happen. If you are a fan of action stories, this is not for you. All the action happens at the very end of the story. I did enjoy this book and would encourage others to read it. The author put a great deal of thought into the story. It would be a shame if it was missed because it lacks vampires, zombies or witches.
twehking on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great concept for a book about teenage female friendship. Very Breakfast Club-esque. Set over one summer as one giant 5-book review for a class project, very different girls are brought together by a mother/daughter bookclub and the adventures and challenges they encounter. A fast read in need of some final editing before the book goes on sale in May.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very creatively written, clever, and funny.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It went way too fast and there wasnt a plot at all. In my opinion, kind of stupid
romancemistress More than 1 year ago
Since Adrienne is going to be stuck at home for the summer due to a knee injury instead of canoeing for 6 weeks with her best friend, Liz, her mother makes plans with a fellow mother from yoga class to plan a book club for mothers and daughters. Unfortunately, the daughters don't really know each other or care anything about a book club that would force them to socialize with each other...and their mothers. But the woebegone group do enjoy making up names for their misbegotten group and eventually, through trial, error, trauma and 5 titles chosen from their English 11 AP list, they manage to bond in a completely un-icky way. The book is told in Adrienne's voice, and though she's not smarmy, she still has a meandering-through-a-fifteen-year-old's mind- kind of wit that was enjoyable and sometimes laugh out loud funny. And with its brief studies of each title and the chapters headed with a definition of a literary term, Schumacher's novel could serve as a Lit 101 intro for any teen...or book club.