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Read With Us: The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store Discussion Time

Hello dear Read With Us members and welcome to Discussion Day for our fall book selection, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride!

This has certainly been a popular book, winning awards and gathering accolades. I know that may have made it difficult to get your hands on a copy and I hope you’ve been able to acquire it in time to join us in talking about it. Before we get into our discussion, I want to point out that Kym has pulled together a great resource on the book here, with a summary of the plot plus a character list, information on James McBride, book reviews and more. This will definitely be helpful if you’re like me and you read the book a while ago.

Okay, here’s my question:

The neighborhood of Chicken Hill is described as “ramshackle houses and dirt roads where the town’s Blacks, Jews, and immigrant whites who couldn’t afford any better lived.” It is an amalgam of so many different types of people with different backgrounds, values, and cultures and yet it becomes a community. How do you think that developed and how important do you think community was in these characters’ lives? Do you think it’s realistic? And have you seen instances of this in your own life?

You can share your thoughts in the comments on this post or you can hold them for tonight’s Zoom discussion, or you can do both! I loved this book so much and I’m really excited to hear what you all thought about it. And please be sure and visit Bonny and Kym’s blogs today to participate in the discussions there, too.

Happy Read With Us Discussion Day!

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. I also liked the story very much! (I did not like it as much as I liked The Good Lord Bird though) I think this story is one of “what can be” It made me think a lot about the barriers that keep people apart (which is always a good thing!) And while I did lots of thinking in this book… I am not sure it was believable… because reality is that just takes too much work to actually happen.

    I am very excited for this discussion tonight!

  2. I think community was very important in all of these characters’ lives, and I think it developed through the love and acceptance that they showed each other. This was quite evident with Chona and Moshe, and how so many people came together to rescue Monkey Pants. But I don’t think this has much of a chance of succeeding in reality. The little town I live in is ~25% Hispanic and I’m often embarrassed and ashamed at how they are treated by other citizens and the town’s elected officials.

  3. This is our January Book Club choice, too, but our discussion is 2 weeks from now, and I’m only about 1/3 in. There sure are a lot of character’s to keep track of though. I didn’t realize that McBride is a musician as well as a respected author! Have a great discussion.

  4. Community is the heart of this story! It reminded me of the small town where I grew up in the 1950s-1960s before the horrors of “urban renewal”.

  5. I finished it this weekend. There were a lot of characters to keep track of. I think their community was what kept them going.

  6. I am late in reading this post and responding to it, but I really enjoyed this question and our discussion on it. I think the community McBride created is absolutely realistic even if it’s rare; I think the world would be a much better if we could work together instead of against each other.

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