013119_the big read

Golden Isles Arts and Humanities executive director Heather Heath holds copies of the books featured in this year’s The Big Read.

A small town struggling to find its footing among trials, tribulations and racial tensions. Factor in a mysterious death and there’s even more fuel for the fire. It could be the plot of any present day story or published in any time period.

And this is what makes Celeste Ng’s book, “Everything I Never Told You,” so intriguing. It’s what appealed to Heather Heath, the executive director of Golden Isles Arts and Humanities, who selected it as this year’s Big Read book.

“Celeste Ng is a wonderful writer – her style seems simple but it is powerful and evocative. It’s a mystery story that surprises and though the story is sad, it is resonant with things that I think everyone can relate too,” she said.

Released in 2014 but set in Ohio in the late 1970s, the novel follows the drowning death of a Chinese-American girl and the fallout surrounding the tragedy. Her parents and siblings struggle to solve the mystery of her death, while uncovering a web of family secrets. The fiction alternates between past and present, told from the various perspectives of each grieving family member. Through the narrative, they begin to realize how little they knew about the people they thought they knew best.

Ng’s work was selected as one of the possible books for the Big Read, a national initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts. The program is coordinated locally by Heath and GIAH, along with partners including College of Coastal Georgia, Marshes of Glynn Library System and Three Rivers Regional Library System. The Literary Guild of St. Simons Island, The Brunswick News Publishing Co., iHeartRadio and Hello Goodbuy are also supporters.

As the local coordinator, Heath was tasked with choosing Glynn County’s Big Read book as she has in previous years. For 2019, she selected something she felt was the perfect story for the time.

“Many of the themes that the novel addresses are universal — racism, family dynamics, the need to belong, the search for identity — topics that are difficult to discuss but need to be addressed,” Heath said.

This year’s edition of the Big Read will be an opportunity for participants to start unpacking some of these issues. Throughout the month, there will be various community events designed to provoke thoughts and dialogue.

Events will begin with the official kick off at 5 p.m. Friday at the Ritz Theatre in downtown Brunswick. Heath and GIAH will host an evening titled “A Cultural Tasting,” which will incorporate various downtown locations. There will also be exhibits and proclamations with a focus on cultural diversity, as highlighted in the novel.

From there, dozens of events ranging from film screenings to lectures to art workshops will begin to fill calendars as readers explore the book. One important highlight will include the keynote speaker, Regi Carpenter, who will share a presentation titled “A Heart So Tender,” at 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Ritz Theatre in downtown Brunswick. It is free and open to the public.

In addition to the adult selection, Heath has also chosen “Zen Shorts,” by John J. Muth as the Little Read book for elementary students and “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio for teens. All share a similar message of understanding and supporting racial diversity.

Heath is hoping that this year’s Big Read and the book’s message will go beyond the 28 days of February and make a lasting impact on readers.

“I hope the events will encourage people to pick up the novel, celebrate and share what makes us similar and what makes different as human beings, and hopefully allow those things not said, to be said,” Heath said.

A complete Big Read Schedule with more information can be found at www.goldenislesarts.org. In addition to the kick off and keynote address, here are several key events:

• Art of the World-Art of My World and Inspired by Zen Shorts student artwork exhibit will open at 5 p.m. Friday and will be available for viewing through Feb. 23 at the Ritz Theatre. Visit www.goldenislesarts.org for gallery hours and more information.

• “Wonder” will be screened at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Hog Hammock Library on Sapelo Island.

• A Virtual Tour of the Center for Puppetry Arts’ Chinese Puppet Collection will be held at 4 p.m. Monday at the St. Simons Island Library, 530A Beachview Drive, St. Simons Island.

• A Sampler Session in Meditation will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the St. Simons Island Library. Leah Rich will lead the practice.

• “Grey Gardens,” part of the Dysfunctional Families film series, will be screened at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Ritz Theatre.

A LittleRead, children’s story time, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the St. Marys Library.

• A LittleRead, children’s story time, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesaday at Howard Coffin Park in Brunswick.

• A book discussion will be held at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 7 in room 108 at the Casino on St. Simons Island.

• “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” will be screened at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Ritz.

• “BlacKkKlansman,” will be screened at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Casino on St. Simons Island. It is rated R and sponsored by the St. Simons Island Literary Guild. A $3 donation is requested.

• “Loving” will be screened at 4 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Ida Hilton Library in Darien.

• “The Golden Isles Nonfiction Workshop: No Time Like Now” with author Janisse Ray will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 9. For more information, call 912-262-6934.

• “Kung Fu Panda” will be screened at 10 a.m. Feb. 9 at the Casino on St. Simons Island.

• A book discussion will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 11 at the Camden County Library in Kingsland.

• “A Year in the Life of a Tree,” will be presented at 5 p.m. Feb. 11 at the St. Simons Island Library.

• A book discussion will be held during the Belladonna Book Club meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 12 at the St. Simons Island Library.

• A LittleRead, children’s story time, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 12 at the St. Simons Island Library.

• “Loving” will be screened at 2 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Ritz.

• A book discussion will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 13 at the St. Marys Library in St. Marys.

• A LittleRead, children’s story time, will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 13 at the Camden County Library.

• A book discussion will be held at 5 p.m. Feb. 14 at the Ida Hilton Library in Darien.

• “Tokyo Story,” part of the Dysfunctional Families film series, will be screened at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14 as part of Cinema Gourmet.

• Everything They Should Have Known: Interracial Marriage in Literature, a lecture by John Hersey will be held at 1 p.m. Feb. 14 at the College of Coastal Georgia’s Camden campus. He will present at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 15 at the St. Simons Island Casino.

• The Zen Art of Paper Folding with Cleilia Hart will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 16 at Glynn Visual Arts. Children in the third grade and up are welcome. For more information, call 912-638-8770.

• “The Psychology of Immigration and the Immigrant Community,” presented by Aurora Nunez, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 19 at the St. Simons Island Library.

• “Raise the Red Latern” will be screened at 2 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Ritz.

• “Wonder” will be screened at 4 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Darien library.

• A LittleRead, children’s story time, will be held at 3:30 a.m. Feb. 19 at the St. Simons Island Library.

• A book discussion will be held at 6:15 p.m. Feb. 19 during Hattie’s Book Club at the St. Simons Island Library.

• “African-American Pioneer Families of McIntosh County” will be presented at 4 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Ida Hilton Library in Darien.

• “The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882” will be presented by Hector Munford at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 20 at the St. Simons Island Library.

• A book discussion titled “The Power of Stereotypes” will be held at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 21 at the St. Simons Island Library.

• A LittleRead, children’s story time, will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 21 at the Hog Hammock Library on Sapelo Island.

• A staged reading of “A Raisin in the Sun” will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 and at 3 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Ritz Theatre in Brunswick. Tickets are $5 in advance; $10 at the door. Student admission is $5. Visit www.goldenislesarts.org for more information.

• A staged reading of “Clybourne Park” will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 22 and 23 at the Ritz Theatre in Brunswick. Tickets are $5 in advance; $10 at the door. Student’ tickets are $5. Visit www.goldenislesarts.org for more information.

• A LittleRead, children’s story time, will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 22 at the Ida Hilton Library in Darien.

• “Some Economics of Immigration,” a presentation by Don Mathews, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 25.

• “Kung Fu Panda,” will be screened at 4 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Darien library.

• “The Celebration” will be screened at 7 p.m. Feb. 26. It is sponsored by the St. Simons Island Literary Guild. A $3 donation is requested.

• “Changes in the Institution of Family,” presented by Roscoe Scarborough, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 26 at the St. Simons Island Library.

• A book discussion will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 26 by the Play Readers at Jumbo South in Brunswick.

• A book discussion titled “The Power of Stereotypes” will be held at 5 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Ida Hilton Library in Darien.

• “Get Out” will be screened at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Ritz.

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