Saturday, October 3, 2015

Back Together

September is always special for our Book Club because we get to reunite after a summer break.   The months of July and August are normally busy with family, cottages, traveling and other summer time activities, so we say good-bye at the end of June and then meet again in September.

It was my turn (Joanne) to host the September meeting and I chose the book Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese.  I first read this book a couple of years ago and was very moved by it and thought it would make a great Book Club pick.  Fortunately, the rest of our group thought the same and we found our discussions took us in some interesting directions.

The book centers around four chronically homeless people–Amelia One Sky, Timber, Double Dick and Digger – who seek refuge in a warm movie theater when a severe Arctic Front descends on the city. During what is supposed to be a one-time event, this temporary refuge transfixes them. They fall in love with this new world, and once the weather clears and their lives are forever changed they still continue their love of movies and trips to the cinema.

Some of the questions we discussed included:  Do some street people actually choose that way of life?  Do most street people struggle with mental illness?  Was their lottery win and how it affected them a realistic depiction?  Who are the shadowed ones?

The idea of 'home' was an important theme of the book and the author painted such a beautiful picture of it.  "Dick taught me that home is a truth you carry within yourself.  It's belonging, regardless.  It's the place where you never need to qualify, measure up, the place that you never have to fear losing."  This quote from the book just really touched my heart.

Other favourite quotes that provoked deep thought: "When the hands on the street are held out, it isn't always alms that are beggared; it's life, contact, touch, generosity of spirit."  

And: "Today, showered, shaved and dressed expensively, I had become a sir.  What had the soap washed off, I wondered?  What did the clothes cover?  What did the plastic bank card in my pocket buy me that I didn't know I'd purchased?"

Our Book Club gave Ragged Company an 8.6 out of 10 rating. It's a story of hope, despair, love, redemption, trust, loyalty and it's a story you just have to read.  I hope you pick it up and enjoy it as much as we did!