Book Selections and Health Resources: Healthy Aging
NNLM Reading Club Book Kit
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Discussion Guide for The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old
Delightful and moving, Groen’s novel shares a full year of the eponymous octogenarian’s journal entries, detailing his day-to-day observations, humorous inner monologues, and overall zest for life within a nursing home in Amsterdam. Bored with the daily monotony of life at the center, he decides to keep a journal for a complete year to expose the frustrations, gripes, and groans of his fellow “inmates” and the realities of growing old. Between hilarious quips about life, Hendrik regales readers with the joys of the motor scooter and his decision to relent and wear adult diapers. Hendrik’s good friend Evert—a crotchety old fellow who gets his kicks riling up the other residents—helps stave off the loneliness, but it’s when new resident Eefje arrives that Hendrik feels a spark he hasn’t experienced in a long time. Hendrik, Eefje, and Evert, along with a small group of wily seniors, decide to have a little fun while they still can by organizing the Old-But-Not-Dead Club to plan outings and excursions, including tai chi and cooking classes, and visits to the casino and museums. Engaging and hilarious, Hendrik’s diary gives dignity and respect to the elderly often overlooked in popular culture, providing readers a look into the importance of friendship and the realities of the senior care system in modern society.
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen has been translated into over twenty languages.
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old | Hendrik Groen | Grand Central Publishing | Reprint 2018 | 384 pages | ISBN: 978-1455542154
Hendrik Groen started his pseudonymous diary on the literary website of Torpedo Magazine. He says about his first novel: “There’s not one sentence that’s a lie, but not every word is true.” In the media, there has been a lot of speculation about who Hendrik Groen could be. Is he an actual octogenarian? Is he a famous Dutch writer? A well-known Dutch stand-up comedian? He remains a mystery.