Book Club & The Life of PI

A few weeks ago, my husband forwarded me an advertisement from a coworker of his inviting people to join a book club. He checked with the organizer to be sure that I could join and it was. Next up The Shack and then Water for Elephants. I’ve read the first and had the second on my to-read-list for a while.

Our first meeting was tonight, so I’m not sure of any of us were truly ready. We shared some thoughts on the book of the month, The Life of Pi and then did some housekeeping for future books/meetings. Some of the copies of the book had study questions, so we glanced through those and answered a few of the questions. While those specific questions are not online that I found, here are a few that I did find (study guides may contain spoilers for the book):

I offer a summary with spoilers because writing reviews is one of my 101 things in 1001 days as well as joining a book club. If you plan to read the book, stop now. Really, I wanted to use bold and exclamation points galore but decided against it.

a review
Disturbingly creative. The first part took a while to get into as it explored several religions Pi pursued as a child in India. Much detail is spent on describing the zoo and Father’s care of the animals as well as how humans should interact with wild beasts. Once the ship sets sell, the action starts and doesn’t stop until the end of the book. The author weaves a tale drawing the reader to desire only the best of and for Pi. A chapter of the current adult Pi happens every few chapters so that the reader knows Pi survives, appears to be happy, but is pulled in to find out how he arrived at his present circumstances. After the author spends several hundred pages describing the journey from India to Mexico, he offers a second story lasting less than 20 pages with similar details but differing main characters. The reader must decide which is the “better” ending, the “more correct” ending, the truth.

a summary
The Life of Pi opens with the adult Pi reflecting on his childhood with the author sprinkling pictures of who Pi would become. Pi’s father own and operated a zoo in India until he because upset with the political climate. While a child in India, Pi explored many religions hoping to find the best way to “love God.” He struggled understanding why he couldn’t be a Hindu, Muslim and Christian at the same time. He refused to accept they were so different that there was no commonality. His father eventually closed the zoo, sold the animals and loaded his family and animals on a ship to deliver the animals and begin anew in Canada. The ship does not make it from India to the intended destination. The ship and most of the occupants went down to the bottom of the Pacific. Much of the book is a story of Pi’s journey on a lifeboat for 277 days. When Pi first entered the small lifeboat, he was joined by a hyena, zebra, gorilla and tiger. After nature takes its course, Pi is left alone with a personified tiger, Richard Parker. He remembered training from his father and eventually “trains” the tiger to stay out of territory that didn’t belong to the tiger. Pi fed the tiger and himself from rations store on the boat as well as what he caught in the ocean. When he encountered another castaway, the tiger was not so understanding and devoured him. Somewhere in mid-journey Pi and Richard Parker encounter a carnivorous island, much like a Venus Fly-trap. They stay until Pi realized the danger and left with the tiger in tow. When he washed up on shore in Mexico, officials from the shipping company showed up to question him. He offered the above story to them, which they chose not to believe and asked for the truth. Pi offers a story without animals, where Pi, mother, the cook and a sailor are on the lifeboat until the cook kills and eats Pi’s mother and the sailor. Pi is Richard Parker, the tiger, and kills the cook when he can’t take it anymore. Pi leaves it to the officials to decide which story they like best.