It’s no secret that librarians like to talk about books. Actually we more than like it – book discussions and conversations about literacy and authors is one of our deep and abiding loves. That’s one of the reasons why we started the #GPLtalk podcast. Our audio inspired book club allows readers to participate in a conversation even if they are unable to make it to one of our regularly scheduled book club events.
This month we discussed Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, a retelling of a quirky (and kind of crazypants) retelling a Russian folktale.
The story is set in Brooklyn…well, sort of set in Brooklyn. Okay – it’s set in an enchanted Brooklyn that is suffering from seemingly endless nights. Like seriously long evenings filled with boredom and eventually dread. Vassa Lowenstein lives in a complicated family situation, left with a step-mother who doesn’t want her, and step sisters who believe she is a kleptomaniac and a liar. Down the street is a twenty-four hour convenience store, which sounds all nice and useful, except for the fact that it is owned by Babs Yagg who has a policy of beheading shoplifters – and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of the night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.
But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a small wooden doll named Erg that was gifted to her from her dead mother. With Erg’s help, Vassa must complete a number of impossible tasks and hopefully break the witch’s curse and free Brooklyn from the awful night.
Book Club Conclusion: Vassa in the Night is a strange, crazy little book that is extremely entertaining and highly recommended.
Take a listen as Emily, Aubrey, Jessica, and Valerie discuss the hero’s journey, swan feet, and the possible meaning behind a man intentionally turning himself into a German shepherd.
If you’ve read the book (or plan to read it!), we’d love to hear your book club conclusion. Would you recommend the book to others? What are your opinions on Vassa and this crazypants retelling?
(We immediately handed the book off to one of our prolific teen readers to get his opinion. Perhaps we’ll follow up with his comments!)
And be sure to read along with us next month as we discuss Margaret Atwood’s Hag Seed.