The Book That Matters Most

Norton. Aug. 2016. 384p. ISBN 9780393241655. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393253849. F
As with Gabrielle Zevin's The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and Katarina Bivald's The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, this new book from Hood (The Obituary Writer) celebrates reading and the power of literature. The focus is a library book club and Ava, a French teacher, its most recent member. Separated from her husband and experiencing a bit of an empty-nest syndrome as her grown children explore the world, Ava seeks companionship in the group but is taken aback by the theme; to present a book that served an important role in her life. She searches for a lost novelist who wrote a memorable story that helped her through her childhood traumas. While some might become intrigued as more details of Ava's past are gradually revealed, they also deserve a more developed, sharpened plot than this far-fetched, somewhat preposterous novel provides.
VERDICT Hood's effortlessly readable story is sure to divide readers—between those who are captivated and those who desire a more detailed story line. [See Prepub Alert, 2/21/16; library marketing.]
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