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An Exercise in Trust: Book Club Recap

Once you’re old enough to recognize a hole in yourself it’s too late for the hole to be filled.”
Susan Choi, Trust Exercise

In case you missed it, don’t worry! Here is a small recap of Susan Choi’s book club discussion.

On February 21, at 4 PM, members of the CLA community joined our discussion of Trust Exercise led by Patti Johnson Dorton via Zoom.

Trust Exercise is a novel in the early 1980s about a performing art school in a Southern city. Throughout the novel, Choi shifts timelines and character perspective, forcing the reader to question which character they could trust. Themes such as power, freedom, and consent revolve around this book. The shifting timeline and perspective was confusing for some members and thrilling for others who anticipated a twist.

As Patti began to delve deeper into specific scenes and character relationships, the questions of “Who holds this narrative? Who can we trust?” connected us and helped breach essential details in the novel from context and personal experience.

One audience member mentioned how Sarah's and Karen's trip to England to see Martin and Liam was not believable. The lack of age and parental agreements needed to make this trip possible made members question the believability of the scene. After all, it is unlikely for a 16- or 17-year-old woman to purchase a passport, let alone a ticket, without a parent finding out, especially in the 1980s.

A second member added how this test of believability was the whole point of the book: “Trust Exercise is about us trusting the narratives.’’ The entire experience of this novel is about what or whose side of the story are we going to trust.

This question also opened many nostalgic conversations about every member’s high school experience growing up, really forcing us to question the characters and bringing the group together with laughter.

So, our questions to you are, who do you think holds this narrative? Who can we trust?

Join us at our next book club, Conditional Citizens by Laila Lalami Sunday, March 14 at 4PM!


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