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172: Eric Gansworth's APPLE: SKIN TO THE CORE - April 2021 Book Club

Episode graphic with text Episode 172, Book Club: Apple: Skin to the Core and photo of the book cover

In this Unabridged Podcast Book Club episode, we discuss Eric Gansworth's memoir in verse, Apple: Skin to the Core. We talk about what worked for us, share quotes, and offer pairings including Angeline Boulley’s Firekeeper’s Daughter, Steve Sheinkin’s Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team, and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Shout.

Bookish Check-in

Ashley - Nicola Yoon’s Instructions for Dancing (coming out June 1; thanks to NetGalley) (amazon |

Jen - Kaitlyn Greenidge’s Libertie (coming out March 30; thanks to Algonquin Books; Jen's review) (amazon |

Sara - Taylor Jenkins Reid’s After I Do (amazon |

Our Pairings

Ashley - Angeline Boulley’s Firekeeper’s Daughter (Jen's review) (amazon |

Jen - Steve Sheinkin’s Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team (amazon |

Sara - Laurie Halse Anderson’s Shout (amazon |

Mentioned in Episode

Kaitlyn Greenidge's We Love You, Charlie Freeman (amazon |

Tommy Orange's There There (Book Club episode 146) (amazon |

Sarah Dunn's The Arrangement (amazon |

Taylor Jenkins Reid's Malibu Rising (amazon |

Episode 158 - Books We're Excited to Read in 2021

Give Me One - A Celebrity Who Makes You Laugh

Listen to the episode to hear who makes each of us laugh out loud!

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Bookish Check-in

Book cover of Kaitlyn Greenidge's Libertie

Jen said, "So I am reading Kaitlyn Greenidge's Libertie, and this one will have just come out with this episode releases. I have an early copy thanks to Algonquin, and I am just loving it, so I was excited to get my hands on this one because I really loved Greenidge's first book We Love You, Charlie Freeman. I thought it was this brilliant mix of historical fiction from a really personal perspective: the fiction part maybe should be emphasized, and this one is similar. So this one is about a girl, Libertie Sampson who is a free-born Black girl living in New York with her mother, and this is based on a real Black female doctor. It starts right before the Civil War. I have not gotten there yet, but I know that the bulk of the book takes place during Reconstruction and the real doctor began a hospital in this predominantly Black town in New York. Her daughter Libertie was starting to follow in her footsteps but then eventually realized that she did not feel like that was for her. Because of the synopsis, I know that she's going to go to Haiti eventually. Again I'm not quite there yet, so I know that there's this whole part of the book that I haven't gotten to, but what I'm really loving about this one is it's all from Libertie's perspective, and she has this great admiration for her mother who is raising her by herself. Libertie's father died when she was young, and Libertie's mom is this brilliant woman that the town just admires so much, and yet as the book is progressing, Libertie is starting to see the areas where her mom is vulnerable and where maybe she needs some care and support. So it's just really interesting. I feel like we all have that moment when we realize our parents might be amazing but they are also human beings, and iIm just really loving seeing Libertie work through that and work through what she wants her path in life to be. So again that is Kaitlyn Greenidge's Libertie, and hopefully I will have a more full review. I'm hoping to do this one on the website because I just love it so far."

Book cover of Taylor Jenkins Reid's After I Do

Sara said, "I am reading Taylor Jenkins Reid's After I Do. Jen frantically texts us one day when this book was on sale for a little bit over $2, and so I ordered it, and I immediately started it when I received it because I love Taylor Jenkins Reid, and this is the story of Lauren and Ryan. They met in college and fell in love, and they've been married I believe like 11 years, and they are starting to not be able to stand each other. Their relationship is not what it used to be, and they decide that they are going to take a year off and that they cannot contact each other. So I am at the part where they've separated They're not even calling it a separation. They're just taking like a one-year hiatus from their marriage., and the only stipulation is that they can't be in contact with one another, they have taken a hiatus, and Lauren is starting to look at what her life would be. Or it's kind of already exploring what her life would be if she weren't in a marriage.

"I actually like it. I normally do not like this premise. There's a book called The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn, which had very high praise, and it's very well written, but I just cannot get on board with the plot of that book, which was, basically they took a break from their marriage; however, they were still living in the same home and all that stuff. So usually, I don't like that plotline, but I love Taylor Jenkins Reid, and I trust her with really complex and complicated relationships. So far, I'm not put off by this at all. I'm hoping that it will continue to be that way, and that the outcome will be satisfying. So I'm about halfway through, and I'm really enjoying it. I just I think she has the ability to capture you from page one, and I have lots of other obligations, and I just find that I keep wanting to go to read that one. But I'm trying to pace it so that I can also get what I have to get done in my reading finished, but also reading that on the side. So that is Taylor Jenkins Reid's After I Do."

Book cover of Nicola Yoon's Instructions for Dancing

Ashley said, "So one of the books that I am reading I was so excited to start last night is Nicola Yoon's Instructions for Dancing. This one is coming out on June 1, and I am reading an egalley thanks to NetGalley. I wanted to get ahead. Sara was talking about reading deadlines. I really got behind in March between the things I needed to read for the podcast and also the things for reading challenges. Then also the things that I had committed to reading for NetGalley. I felt very frantic and bogged down, and so this one isn't coming out for a while, but I actually have multiple books that I want to read for that June 1 deadline. That is going to be a big pub day. There are some major releases. In fact, I think that's Taylor Jenkins Reid's day as well for Malibu Rising. There are a couple of others that I'm planning to read that I'm sure I'll share on here later. But anyway, so lots of great books coming out that day, and I just wanted to get ahead, and also I absolutely love Nicola Yoon. Like Sara was saying about Taylor Jenkins Reid, Nicola Yoon is another one that for me, I am immediately engrossed, I have never been disappointed. It's very easy to get into her books, and so even coming off of this kind of feeling of being bogged down by a lot of what I was reading, even the ones I've loved, it was good to start something fresh that it was immediately inviting.

"So I haven't read very much of it yet. I just started a little bit last night, but immediately when it opens you meet Evie and her family, her sister Donika and her mom, and she is going through her extensive romance book selection in her house, and she is donating them all to the library. She talks through that it was funny that this comes up because we just did a tropes episode recently and talked about our favorite tropes, and so she goes through her former favorite tropes and talks about why she liked each one and what she liked about them. So she's this huge romance book lover, and suddenly is repulsed by the romances, and then it becomes apparent very quickly in the opening scene that her mom and dad are getting a divorce, and that her dad cheated on her mom. You can tell that she feels that her sister Donika and her mom are just able to . . . they're baking, and it's this really fun scene, and they have flour everywhere. You can really tell that she feels that they're just moving on that they're moving forward, they seem completely unimpacted, and for her, she feels like her whole world has exploded and that everything that she thought about the world is not as it is and that the love that she's always admired and wanted to have in her own life is suddenly not real because seeing her parents' relationship that she really idolized fall apart in such a dramatic way has made her reconsider her whole existence, basically, and her viewpoint on the world. So that's the opening scene, and I love her. I think that it's interesting to see those dynamics, and I appreciate right at the beginning that I think all of those reactions that we're seeing between her mom and her sister and herself, that all of those are reactions that happen to that kind of traumatic event. I appreciate how that's playing out, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next. This was a highly anticipated read for me for 2021, and so I know a little bit about some other things that come with the dance studio that's close by and how she kind of gets dragged into that. So I'm excited to see where it goes. Again, that's Nicola Yoon's Instructions for Dancing, and it's coming out on June 1."

Main Segment - Eric Gansworth's Apple: Skin to the Core

Book cover of Eric Gansworth's Apple: Skin to the Core

Ashley share this synopsis of the novel: "In this memoir in verse, Eric Gansworth, an enrolled Onondaga writer and artist, who grew up on a Tuscarora reservation in New York State, shares about his life experience growing up on a reservation and then moving to a city as an adult. From the publisher: 'The term "Apple" is a slur in Native communities across the country. It's for someone supposedly "red on the outside, white on the inside.”' Gansworth’s poems explore his relationship to his family, his perspective on the long range impact of oppressive systems such as residential schools, and his own fight to find his way as an artist and a writer."


Book cover of Laurie Halse Anderson's Shout

Sara's pairing was Laurie Halse Anderson's Shout. She said, "This is also a memoir—it is written in poetry, and it talks about violence against women. I feel like some of the stuff that Gansworth brings up in his book about residential schools and some of the the ways that indigenous people are treated in our country by white people and other people, I think that if you like the way that this book kind of tackles that, you'll like Laurie Halse Anderson's book, and they are similar in that they they move through a narrative, but also it's not super plot driven, which is what I would say about Apple: Skin to the Core. Shout is that way too because she has some personal stories from her life within the book, but also there are some poems where she is just angry and kind of raging about the things that have happened to her and the things that have happened to a lot of women, so I think that would be a good pairing for this book and also similar in style."

Book cover of Steve Sheinkin's Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team

Jen said, "So I am pairing this one with Steve Sheinkin's Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team. Sheinkin is a great nonfiction author, and his intended audience is also young adults. I listened to this one on audio, and I've talked about it on here before, but it's been a long time. I just thought this book was fascinating. The man in the title, Jim Thorpe, was a Native American, and he attended the Carlisle Indian School. He was also an Olympic gold medalist, and he was part of a football team at the Carlisle Indian School, which the school put in place as a way to continue to control the students there. It was both a way to have some regimented time, but also something to sort of hold over their heads. So the way that they used it was not always great, but because Thorpe was so talented, and the coach was Pop Warner, who the Pop Warner football teams for little kids are named after, they were super successful, and they would compete against schools, like Ivy League schools, and yet they were not funded nearly as much. A lot of people went in with the expectation that they wouldn't do well. So I think it's one of those great sports stories. It's one of the reasons I love books about sports, but it's also this incredibly detailed revealing expos a of what it was like at the Carlisle Indian School, and because that was such a big part of Apple: Skin to the Core, I think this could be an interesting pairing just to kind of spin off and learn about that from a different perspective."

Book cover of Angeline Boulley's Firekeeper's Daughter

Ashley said, "So I wanted to circle back to one that is very recent. This is Angeline Boulley's Firekeeper's Daughter, and this one just came out in March and is a young adult novel. Jen shared a review of it on, and I've talked about it some on the podcast as well. I think that there are so many things, although it is not a memoir, it is not in verse. I think that thematically Boulley is hitting on a lot of similar topics. So Daunis Fontaine is the main character, and she is not an enrolled member of the tribe, but she lives on the reservation. She moves back and forth between the part of her family that is white and the part of her family that is Native, and is bridging those two worlds. I think that what I love is Daunis's dedication to preserving her heritage and her honor that she feels toward the elders in her community and the way that she is learning their traditions and incorporating them in authentic ways into her own life. I love all of that." Be sure to listen to hear the rest of our discussion!


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