2021 Read Between the Ravines

Lake Forest Library and Lake Bluff Public Library are proud to present their joint nonfiction reading program called Read Between the Ravines. This Two Communities, One Nonfiction Book program brings together Lake Forest and Lake Bluff with the purpose of enhancing nonfiction literacy and inspiring discussion around real-world issues.

Join us in reading and discussing the book Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo this March. Tune in for an interview with Kuo on Facebook Live, Wednesday, April 7 at 5:30 pm.

Other events in the month prior to the main event include two topical discussions by Lake Forest College professors, one on literature and one on American history, three book group meetings, one a Lake Bluff library, one at Lake Forest Library, and one led by Judy Levin, And a film discussion of "White Like Me." Learn more and register at lakeforestlibrary.org/rbr and https://www.lakeblufflibrary.org/events.

Find book club questions for Reading with Patrick at readbetween.org under "About the Book & Author." At readbetween.org under "equity in education resources" find links to local organizations, book and article recommendations, and videos to watch, such as "A Tale of Two Schools" Part 1 and 2 and "The healing power of reading," a talk by Kuo herself. Find and download an action kit to help start conversations about race with friends and family, provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


About the Book

Michelle Kuo, at age twenty-two, arrives in the Mississippi Delta town of Helena, Arkansas in 2004. Kuo quickly realizes that her new home, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, is still poor, still segregated and still in need of dramatic change.  Helena is where she meets Patrick, inquisitive and quiet, with a poor attendance record. With Kuo’s attention, Patrick’s reading and writing flourish and he wins a school-wide award for “Most Improved.” When Kuo leaves Helena to pursue a law degree, she suspects herself of having taken the easier route.

Three years later, Kuo’s attention receives the news that Patrick is in prison for murder. Kuo puts her life on hold and moves back to the Delta. In the visiting room of the Phillips County Jail, she and Patrick spend seven months pouring over classic novels, poems, and historical narrative by Frederick Douglass, C.S. Lewis, Marilynn Robinson, James Baldwin, W.S. Merwin and more. Patrick learns how to be a serious reader and a fluent writer, and in doing so, discovers new worlds both inside and outside of himself.

Themes of Reading with Patrick include education and criminal justice in the Mississippi delta, the role of educators in our lives, the uniting power of literature, poetry, and reading, race, and power dynamics in American history.

Some of the literature and poetry featured in the book includes but is not limited to Mysteries, Yes by Mary Oliver, W.S. Merwin’s To Paula in Late Spring, He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven by Yeats, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, among many others.

Meet the Author

Tune into Facebook Live on Wednesday, April 7 at 5:30 pm to watch a discussion of Reading with Patrick between Michelle Kuo and David Smith. Please email any questions you would like answered by Kuo in advance of the event to reference@lakeforestlibrary.org. Selected questions will be answered in the time available on screen.

Michelle Kuo is a writer, attorney, and professor. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the author of Reading with Patrick. It was a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice. Michelle has worked to protect the rights of undocumented immigrants, assist asylum seekers, and defend incarcerated people. She has taught in prisons in the United States, France, and Taiwan. Michelle is interested in literacy, racial and socioeconomic equality, and abolitionist approaches towards prison and detention. She has published in The New York Review of Books, the New York Times, Public Books, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Point, and other outlets; Currently, she is an Associate Professor at the American University of Paris, where she works closely with college students on issues of social justice.

David Smith is a Distinguished Senior Lecturer of Psychology at Northwestern University. He conducts research on judgement and decision making and teaches courses in psychology, research design and statistics at NU. Smith has held faculty appointments at NU, Middlebury College, and the University of Michigan. A member of the NPEP (Northwestern Prison Education Program) faculty, he has also taught university level courses in a maximum-security prison. Smith is a member of RAIN, one of this year’s Read Between the Ravines partner organizations.

Upcoming RBR Events

This event is in the "Teens" group.

Virtual Game Night

7:00pm - 7:30pm