Salem Reads is a community program that encourages a fondness for reading and use of the library

by inviting the entire city to read a common book. Outcasts United by Warren St. John is this year’s choice. It is the real-life story of refugees seeking new lives set against the backdrop of a fading American town struggling to accommodate its new arrivals.

Together, an inspiring group of refugees and a woman, who with tough love and fiery determination, changes an entire community for the better. In the span of just a decade, Clarkston, Georgia transformed from a typical small southern town into one of the nation’s most diverse communities—a place where children from 50 countries now attend the once all-white local high school. In Outcasts United, St. John explores the impact of this radical change on refugees and townspeople through the story of a Clarkston youth soccer team called the Fugees.

The team, coached by a Jordanian-born woman named Luma Mufleh, consists of players from more than 15 war-torn countries, who, despite their differences and the hurdles placed in their way by locals opposed to resettlement, find ways to connect and cohere across broad cultural divides.

The 2018 Salem Reads festival began February 6th with a gala reception at the Library highlighted by the free distribution of 600 books to the community, an array of choice food and beverage and the opening of an art show by local artists inspired by the book and the game of soccer.

During the rest of the month there will be numerous events including book club discussions, a  documentary film on Saturday the 17th in the afternoon at the Library and a Progressive Films show and discussion in Loucks Auditorium on Thursday evening February the 22nd.

There will also be Oregon Humanities Conversation Projects on Wednesday afternoon the 21st and Saturday evening the 24th. The highlight of events will be an appearance and signing by the author Warren St. John on Tuesday evening the 27th. This is a free ticketed event but the Library has already distributed all tickets.

Check with the Information Desk for any return tickets. For more festival information see www.salemlibrary or call 503 588 6315.