louisa meets bear

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Louisa Meets Bear
By Lisa Gornick
320 pages; Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Why Your Book Club Will Love It: Even if you don't finish the whole book by the day of your meeting, these linked stories give you plenty to discuss about love, family and "the one who wasn't quite the one."

The Burning Questions: What does grown-up love really look like? What choices and trade-offs do we make?

What to Bring to Your Meeting: Several bottles of wine to lubricate your heart-to-heart.

At the center of these crystalline stories, which span the years 1961 to 2009, are Louisa and Bear, two lovers whose lives intersect at various times. Radiating out, are friends and relatives grappling with challenging realities—accidental pregnancies, buried secrets, affairs and family tragedies. A jilted Louisa rents the spare bedroom of a couple whose daughter was killed (by a lion); a family quarrels over whether to pull the plug on their mother; a new wife understands her marriage is over with "the sudden awareness that this, the chicken roasting in the oven, the two sets of dishes, were for her like acting in a play she'd never even wanted to see." What's most notable is the way these characters grow and move on, not always getting exactly what they want, but finding enough of what they need.
Dawn Raffel