Book Groups

2024 Series: Banned Books

Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.

~ Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

Join WHRL for a series of book discussions centered around the theme, Banned Books.

Along with the individual themes of each book, we will discuss literary freedom, censorship, social justice, and related topics.

According to the New York Times, “Efforts to ban books nearly doubled in 2022 over the previous year,” with the highest number of complaints since the American Library Association began tracking censorship 20 years ago.

Our book list will likely provide for lively discussion around themes of race, gender, ethics, hate, and hope. Through literary inquiry, we will strive to gain insight and understanding into the experience of the oppressed. What is it like to be part of a marginalized group? We also hope to learn more about what propels people to ban books. What fears, experiences, or beliefs create movements to limit access to literature in our country? We hope to create a safe space to explore these complicated issues, recognize bias in others and ourselves, and share and welcome different viewpoints.

    • There are three facilitated discussions per book.
    • Discussion groups are small & intimate — no more than 12 people, including the facilitator.
    • Free and open to all who have been fully vaccinated for COVID,  although registration is required.
    • After registering, participants will receive their own copy of the book.

Scroll down to read more about each book and to register. Can’t join? Follow along by checking a copy of the book at the Milbridge Public Library, Henry D. Moore Library, or the Cherryfield Public Library.

Book Groups are open to anyone for whom woman is a meaningful identifier or lived experience.

The Maine Humanities Council has provided funding for this book discussion series.

 2024 Book Series

(Scroll Down to Register)
  • House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (January)
  • Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez (February)
  • Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe (March)
  • Caste by Isabel Wilkerson (April)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (September)
  • The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas (October)

Upcoming Book Discussions

Cover of the House on Mango Street

House on Mango Street

by Sandra Cisneros

Wednesdays, January 10th, 17th, and 24th from 6:00 – 7:30 PM


Thursdays, January 11th, 18th, and 25th from 3:30 – 5:00 PM

Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero.

Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous–it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

Registration Closed

Cover of Out of Darkness

Out of Darkness

by Ashley Hope Pérez

Wednesdays, February 7, 21, and 28, from 6-7:30 pm


Thursdays, February 8, 15, 22, from 3:30-5 pm

“This is East Texas, and there’s lines. Lines you cross, lines you don’t cross. That clear?”

New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them. They know the people who enforce them. But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive.

Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion the worst school disaster in American history as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.

Cover of Gender Queer

Gender Queer: A Memoir

by Maia Kobabe

Evening session Tuesdays, March 5, 12, and 19 – 6-7:30 pm

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

Cover of Caste

Caste: The Origins of our Discontents

by Isabel Wilkerson

Evening session Wednesday, April 10, 17, and 24 – 6-7:30 pm
Afternoon session Thursday, April 11, 18, and 25 – 3-4:30 pm

The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

“As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power—which groups have it and which do not.”

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings, has shaped America today and throughout its history.


To Kill a Mockingbird Cover

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee


The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it. “To Kill A Mockingbird” became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, “To Kill A Mockingbird” takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Registration Coming Soon!

The Hate You Give cover

The Hate You Give

by Angie Thomas


Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Book Group Registration

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