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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "The Island of Worthy Boys" by Connie Hertzberg Mayo

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"The Island of Worthy Boys" by Connie Hertzberg Mayo

  1. Identity and Belonging:

    • How do the characters in the novel grapple with issues of identity and belonging? How do their backgrounds and experiences shape their sense of self?
    • In what ways do the physical settings in the novel, such as the island and the city, influence the characters' sense of belonging or alienation?
  2. Resilience and Survival:

    • How do the characters demonstrate resilience in the face of adversity? What coping mechanisms do they employ to navigate challenging situations?
    • Discuss the role of community and support systems in helping the characters survive and thrive, especially in difficult circumstances.
  3. Friendship and Camaraderie:

    • Analyze the friendships and relationships between characters in the novel. How do these connections evolve over the course of the story?
    • How do friendships contribute to the characters' sense of belonging and identity?
  4. Historical Context:

    • Explore the historical backdrop of the novel, particularly the setting of the Catholic orphanage and the societal attitudes of the time. How do these historical elements shape the characters' experiences and decisions?
    • Discuss any parallels or connections between the historical events depicted in the novel and contemporary issues.
  5. Family and Kinship:

    • How do family dynamics play a role in the lives of the characters? How do they navigate relationships with family members, both biological and chosen?
    • Consider the significance of surrogate families or makeshift families formed by the characters. What do these relationships reveal about the nature of family and kinship?
  6. Redemption and Forgiveness:

    • Several characters in the novel grapple with past mistakes or regrets. How do they seek redemption, and is forgiveness attainable?
    • Discuss the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation as portrayed in the novel. How do characters come to terms with their pasts, and what does this process entail?
  7. Symbolism and Imagery:

    • Analyze the symbolism of the island and other recurring motifs or imagery in the novel. What do these symbols represent, and how do they contribute to the overall themes of the story?
    • Consider the significance of the title, "The Island of Worthy Boys," and its implications for the characters and their journeys.
  8. Narrative Structure and Style:

    • Reflect on the author's narrative choices, such as alternating perspectives or non-linear storytelling. How do these stylistic elements enhance the reader's understanding of the characters and their experiences?
    • Discuss any thematic or structural parallels between the past and present timelines in the novel.
  9. Ethical Dilemmas:

    • Explore the ethical dilemmas faced by characters throughout the story. How do they navigate moral complexities and conflicting loyalties?
    • Consider how individual characters' choices reflect broader ethical questions or societal norms of the time.
  10. Character Development:

    • Trace the development of key characters throughout the novel. How do their experiences and interactions shape their growth and transformation?
    • Discuss any characters who undergo significant changes or revelations over the course of the story, and analyze the factors driving these changes.

Connie Hertzberg Mayo grew up in Westchester County, NY, but came to Massachusetts to get a Literature degree from Tufts University and never ended up leaving.  Her first book, The Island of Worthy Boys, was published in 2015 by She Writes Press and won an “IPPY” – the 2016 Gold Medal for Best Regional Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

Connie’s short story, “Little Breaks”, was published by Calyx Journal in 2017.

Her latest novel, The Sharp Edge of Mercy, was published by Heliotrope Books in May 2022.

Connie works as a Systems Analyst and empty-nests with her husband and two feuding cats.


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