Book Club: You Are One of Them

We find out what the Minneapolis ABC Book Club thought of ‘You Are One of Them’ by Elliott Holt.

you-are-one-of-them-elliott-holt-200x300My book club recently had the pleasure of reading You Are One of Them, by Elliott Holt. I have to say that at first I was skeptical. The Cold War and US-Russian politics aren’t subjects I have much interest in. But after meeting the author at her book launch party in Minneapolis, we all felt like we would give the book a chance.

The storyline

This book is intriguing on many levels, first and foremost the main character, Sarah Zuckerman. Most thirty-something women reading this book can relate to her 1980s adolescent angst. Her relationship with her best friend, Jennifer Jones, is filled with all the ups and downs of a typical friendship, that is until Jennifer writes a letter to the Soviet premier that thrusts her into the international spotlight.

As Sarah is pushed (or allows herself to be pushed) to the sidelines, and ultimately loses her friend in a mysterious plane crash, she is forced to figure out who she is outside of her circumstances.

You Are One of Them is full of beautiful subtlety. From Sarah’s complicated relationships with her mother, father, friends, co-workers in Russia, and even to her long-deceased sister, the reader really goes on a journey with her to discover the truth about her friend.

author-elliott-holt-flickr-300x247It is impossible not to connect with her desire to understand where she fits in the world, and what she owes to the people of her past. I personally loved seeing Sarah experience Russia from the eyes of an American, watching her mature on her journey and ultimately get to a place where she can finally be unencumbered by her past.

Quizzing author Elliott Holt

When we discussed You Are One of Them in our book club this week, Elliott Holt Skyped with us. What a treat it was to hear her discuss the writing process from her own perspective. And, if you’ve read the book, you know that the end leaves a very large and looming question wide open for interpretation…Elliott answered it for us – but no, I won’t tell you the answer!

One of the best take-aways I have from that conversation was when she said: “Whatever you got from the ending, that is what is true.”

I loved that – what a perfect way to summarize the experience of reading a great novel like this one.

Roseanne Cheng

About Roseanne Cheng

Roseanne Cheng is a reader, writer, teacher, and mother to two little kids. Her first book, The Take Back of Lincoln Junior High, will be published in early Fall. She tweets @teachablelit and blogs.