The Paris Library

Atria. Jun. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9781982134198. $28. F
It’s 1939 when Odile gets her dream job as a librarian at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis move in to occupy France, the library is allowed to stay open. Odile, along with a small band of librarians, patrons, and volunteers, form a secret resistance that includes hiding forbidden titles and delivering books to banished Jewish patrons. Despite the horrors of war, the library is the constant that keeps her going. In 1983 in a small Montana town, 12-year-old Lily uses a school report as an excuse to meet her mysterious French neighbor. The older woman helps Lily through her tumultuous teen years, offering books, advice, and refuge. In Charles’s second novel (after Moonlight in Odessa), Odile is a complex character, both brave and childish. She can be unforgiving and impetuous as she watches the war make good people do bad things. Through her interactions with Lily, her regrets and the one betrayal for which she cannot forgive herself are revealed.
VERDICT Plan for extra copies, as this tale has all the hallmarks of a book club pick. [See “Seasonal Selections,” LJ 2/20.]
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