What is the ole' adage? "People come into your life for a season, reason, or a lifetime?" This could very well be the theme of the day as Ka Saundra welcomed U.S. G.I.R.L.S. and guest into the expansive dining room of Cleota's Southern American Cuisine to discuss Edward Kelsey Moore's 1st novel, and NY Best Seller; The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can Eat.
The morning started out cloudy and rainy, but by NOON all was sunshine and beautiful for our meeting. The atmosphere was cozy and inviting as we all arrived and greeted one another. It was almost as if Big Earl was there, waiting in the wings to welcome us to the meeting (or, maybe he was!!). Since this was the first visit to Cleota's for many of the members, Ka Saundra pre-ordered appetizers of fried green tomatoes and chicken wings for us to enjoy as we looked over the soulful menu. After offering a blessing, Ka Saundra wasted no time getting to the questions. Ka Saundra chose to facilitate the meeting in a classroom fashion, by assigning the questions in a rotation. We simply loved that because it gave each member an opportunity to elaborate on a question and having the floor to share their point of view without interruption. I have a feeling we may be using this technique again in future meetings.
Ka Saundra began with the question of gender and writing capabilities. She wanted to know how the members felt about Mr. Moore writing a book that was so soulful (literally) about women. Valerie said it best when she explained that as she was reading, she totally forgot that a man had written the book. It was not a crucial element nor did it distract from the storyline. This just validates a similar stance we took in reading The Healing. Due to his research and writing style, we soon forgot that Jonathon Odell was not a person of color, nor did it matter.
Since the book had so many characters, it was amusing to hear each member trying to refresh their memory by asking Who said that? When did that occur? Are you sure? Now, was she a nurse or a part of the janitorial staff? We erupted into laughter on many occasions while trying to remember who was related to whom, how old Lester was, and just why did Big Earl marry Ms. Minnie anyway? We had a lot of fun trying to picture who would play each character in a movie; particularly Chick, King of the pretty white boys. Did someone say Bruce Springsteen? come on, seriously????
The discussion turned serious when we discussed the racial issues of the era; segregated hospitals- Barbara Jean and Chick's inability to date openly and the blatant hatred and ignorance of Chick's redneck brother. The longevity of the Supremes friendship was a topic that resurfaced often. Both Roz and Dee commented on how the friendship dynamic of male and females differ. They both gave personal testimonies of male childhood relationships that their husbands still have to this day. We all agreed that as we mature from girls to women, we tend to grow in and out of friendships, but friendships as boys grow into men tend to continue without changing. There is an R&B or Country hit in there somewhere; I can just feel it!!
As we do our normal debating and discussing there was one resounding concurrence - Richmond was a dog with an upper case "DOG!" The scene where he goes to Barbara Jean's home and she was not only depressed, but also suffering from alcoholism was undeniably wrong, however the strength he showed in assisting Odette when she thought she was near the end (although he was somewhat blackmailed) was compassionate and refreshing.
Of the 23 questions presented, Ka Saundra constructed the last 8, and we were excited to reach them. Particularly the one about Eleanor Roosevelt, whose character added so much humor and warmth to the story. We all wondered why the author selected Eleanor Roosevelt's ghost for this character? Was it her strength and historical significance as it relates to Civil and Human Rights? Celeste asked why the author did not have Adam, Barbara Jean and Chick's son, appear as a ghost to Odette. That was something many of us had not thought of. That really could have added such an emotional element to the end of the story; maybe even given Barbara Jean and Chick some closure. Could Mr. Moore be leaving the door open for a sequel? Well, you heard it here first.
As parting book club meeting favors, Ka Saundra presented each member and guest with an Elle Decor LED candle. I am sure we will all enjoy its ambient glow as we relax and read our upcoming book selections!! Thank you Ka Saundra for selecting The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat and the in-depth discussion into the lives of Clarice, Odette, and Barbara Jean. This was definitely a feel good book, which I think we can all take a page from.
As I was exiting the parking lot, "basking" in the glow from the meeting, I could have sworn a cadillac going in the opposite direction blew its horn and it sounded something like this ..."Ooo, Ooo-ooo"