New UM honors students to read Susan Messer’s ‘Grand River and Joy’ this summer

by Heather Newman on May 20, 2010

More book details The University of Michigan’s Honors Program in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts has selected Grand River and Joy as its required reading book for the summer for incoming Honors students.

The book, set in the summer of the 1967 Detroit race riots, depicts the struggles of downtown shopkeeper Harry Levine as he attempts to decide whether to stay or flee for the suburbs. It is Susan Messer’s first, and critically acclaimed, novel.

Roughly 500 new Honors students will read the book over the summer and discuss it on their first day on campus.

“Many of our students are from Southeast Michigan, and many of their families experienced their own versions of Harry Levine‚Äôs story,” said Tim McKay, Director of the Honors Program. “We hope that reading it will help them to discover this. … For those students not from the area, we hope the book will help them to explore what has happened in Detroit, how it got to be the way it is, and to think about where it might go. The University has strong and growing connections with the city, and we hope that reading the novel will encourage our students to form their own bonds with Detroit.”

The program has also invited Messer to come to campus to speak in November.

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