The novel, Parssinen’s first, follows the story of American-born Rosalie and her Saudi family. Her marriage to the charming and wealthy Abdullah al-Baylani is put through the ringer when she discovers he has another wife. Tangled in the web of two teenage children, strict cultural laws and the bond between husband and wife, Rosalie must decide to stay with her family or leave Saudi Arabia.
Parssinen was born in Saudi Arabia, and she is able to bring to life the complicated nuances of gender roles and restrictions of the culture. After receiving an English degree from Princeton University, she then studied at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Now, she lives in Columbia with her husband, and she runs the Quarry Height’s Writers Workshop for local writers and authors.
How the book was chosen:
The One Read program has passed the decade mark in Columbia and is an almost year-round community event.
-November: Columbians give recommendations for selection. This year, the program received more than 140 book suggestions.
-Spring: A panel made of 17 community members, professors, high school teachers, editors and librarians then read 10 of those suggestions.Of the 10, they narrow the choice down to two or three options for the public to vote on.
-Late spring: The winner of the public vote is announced, and the task force and community get ready for the fall events. This year, The Ruins of Us was announced on May 20.
-Summer: Columbians read the book.
-September: Many events based on the book or topic occur, including book talks with prominent community members, lectures and discussions. It usually concludes with an author visit if the author is not local.
- The Call by Yannick Murphy (Runner-up, see below for more information)
- Arcadia by Lauren Groff
- The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
- State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
- Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
- The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
- The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
Yannick Murhpy’s novel, The Call, is about a small-town veterinarian takes place in Vermont. When his son is injured in a hunting accident, David Appleton is haunted by visions, grief and an obsession with vengeance. Although the book might sound cliche, its charm and unusual story form (entries in the vet’s logbook) give it a fresh and enthralling feeling.
Past One Read selections:
- 2002: Plainsong by Kent Haruf
- 2003: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- 2004: Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
- 2005: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
- 2006: The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle
- 2007: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
- 2008: The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
- 2009: The Air We Breath by Andrea Barrett
- 2010: Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
- 2011: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
- 2012: The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
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