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In Focus

This month’s book club book was The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal. It is right up there with Thief River Falls and Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons. It was very good.

The book is basically about two things, beer and family. As a person who does not care for the taste of beer, I thought it was a great read.

The focus is on the rift between two sisters, Edith and Helen, and the different lives they led. Edith stopped talking to Helen after she became the sole inheritor of the family farm and sold it, using the money to start her own brewery.

Helen and her husband turned his family business back into the beer business, while ebbing and flowing with the industry, trying to stay on top.

Edith went on to have a family, and served the best pies in the state at a nursing home. She picked up a baking job in a new town after her husband became ill, working many jobs to stay afloat.

The book follows the two sisters over decades—their triumphs and their losses.

Edith’s granddaughter, Diana, enters the picture after a terrible tragedy. Following her struggle through high school, she does something illegal to help support her overworked grandmother, and ends up landing a job at a brewery that becomes her life.

The rift persisted between the aging sisters. Helen was looking to buy out a craft brewery and set her sights on Diana’s.

The book was an easy, captivating read. It even mentioned the Wadena Pioneer Journal...a nice local reference. While the book jumps between sisters and time, it doesn’t give you whiplash.

The story is mostly about family drama. It is well done. The relationship between Edith and Diana reminded me of the struggles my mom and I faced for many years. While I didn’t go to the lengths Diana did, it resonated with me. Learning a bit about the beer industry was interesting as well.

Some of the book club members brought some craft beers to try when we got together. Two were dessert flavors—Lemon Meringue Pie and Raspberry Cheesecake. I enjoyed those, despite it being beer.

We all enjoyed the book and some very lively conversation, which also led to an actual name for our book club!

Flashing back to murder mystery night, we ended up at our local bar. Most of us were pretty tipsy, and had a great time. Our conversation lead up to our “spicy” soft-spoken friend saying, “We’re independent women, too!” to a guy who referred to the girls as their partner’s girlfriend.

I believe we are calling ourselves The Independent Women Book Club! It seems fitting since we’re not Angry Housewives, some of us aren’t even “wives” so this is a great fit for us.

We all enjoy the club and we are going to have a Christmas party in January!

But I digress, I highly recommend this book.

The next book is Under a Flaming Sky, The Great Hinckley Fire Storm of 1894, by Daniel James Brown.

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