Brown Bag Book Discussion
Librarian Paul McNeil will lead a discussion of Mary Beth Keane's novel Ask Again, Yes. Participants are encouraged (but not required) to read the book in advance. Ask for a copy at the library’s information desk.
You could call Peter Stanhope naive. Or you could call him optimistic. After all, as he tries to escape his traumatic childhood punctuated by his mom’s mental illness and a violent incident during his teenage years, he reasons that his family’s history might not matter in the long run. But of course, it does. The long shadow cast by his loneliness, the struggle to put a name to his mother’s suffering—these exact a toll not just on Peter but on his close childhood friend and neighbor, Kate. As their love blossoms, the couple realizes that a parent’s imprint might be more lasting than either could ever have imagined. “Marriage is long. All the seams get tested,” cautions Kate’s dad. Keane reveals the full and remarkable veracity tucked into that simple statement. Even if it occasionally seems like Keane's male characters seek refuge for their troubles in predictable ways, this is a haunting look at what happens when mental illness goes undefined. The slow-burning and nameless terror it creates swallows everyone in its path. -- Poornima Apte