Radio Bristol Book Club: The Summer of the Swans - Birthplace of Country Music

Radio Bristol Book Club: The Summer of the Swans

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club! Inspired by the museum’s current special exhibit – Reading Appalachia: Voices from Children’s Literature – readers from the Birthplace of Country Music and the Bristol Public Library are coming together each month to celebrate and explore one book featured in the exhibit. We invite you to read along and then listen in on the fourth Thursday of each month at 11—11:30am when we will dig deep into the feelings and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

Four pictures of the Reading Appalachia exhibit, including the exhibits opening panels focused on what is Appalachia (far left), a little girl interacting with one of the character cut-outs of a bear (near left), a view of the entire gallery showing the panels throughout (near right), and a pile of books from the exhibit on the table in the gallery (far right).
The Reading Appalachia special exhibit is a wonderland of characters and stories for kids and adults alike, and it gives us a whole host of books to choose from for book club! © Birthplace of Country Music Museum

The book for May is The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars, and we will be discussing this Newbery Award-winning novel on May 23 at 11am live on Radio Bristol.

In Byars’ coming-of-age story, we meet 14-year-old Sara Godfrey as she is struggling with growing up and understanding her emotions and changing appearance. She is having a terrible summer and having to take care of her younger brother Charlie, who has an intellectual disability, just adds to the feeling of responsibility that is weighing her down. One afternoon, Sara takes Charlie to see the swans who stop near their home every summer during their annual migration. That night, Charlie disappears into the woods while searching for the swans and Sara, who feels responsible for his disappearance, knows that she must do whatever it takes to find her brother.

Three covers of the book, all showing Sara sitting with her brother as they watch the swans. The middle cover has a psychedelic feel to its illustration.

The many covers of The Summer of the Swans over the years capture the bond between the two siblings, a central theme of the book.

Betsy Byars has won many awards for books and is well-known for writing about young people at odds with themselves and the world. The Summer of the Swans follows this vein and, for some of us, takes our minds back to the days when we were 14 and trying to find our own way in the world.

We cannot wait to bring Betsy Byars’ The Summer of the Swans to Radio Bristol Book Club! We hope you can join us as we discuss this beautifully written and poignant novel. You can pick up a copy at your favorite local bookstore or stop by the Bristol Public Library and check out a copy today! The librarians at the Bristol Public Library will be happy to help you find a copy of the book in any format that suits you best, from book to audiobook, and even e-books.

Make plans to join us at 11am on Thursday, May 23 for Radio Bristol Book Club!

Amy Kimani is the Executive Director of the Bristol Public Library. When she is not working at the best job in the world, she is reading all of the books in her never-ending to-be-read list.

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