The Book that Matters Most by Ann Hood

The Book that Matters Most Book Cover The Book that Matters Most
Ann Hood
Literature & Fiction, Women's Fiction
W.W. Norton and Company
August 8, 2016
Hardcover, Kindle
368

An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets, friendship, and the healing power of literature, by the bestselling author of The Knitting Circle.

Ava’s twenty-five-year marriage has fallen apart, and her two grown children are pursuing their own lives outside of the country. Ava joins a book group, not only for her love of reading but also out of sheer desperation for companionship. The group’s goal throughout the year is for each member to present the book that matters most to them. Ava rediscovers a mysterious book from her childhood―one that helped her through the traumas of the untimely deaths of her sister and mother. Alternating with Ava’s story is that of her troubled daughter Maggie, who, living in Paris, descends into a destructive relationship with an older man. Ava’s mission to find that book and its enigmatic author takes her on a quest that unravels the secrets of her past and offers her and Maggie the chance to remake their lives.

There are books and then there are books…

free copyWe’ve all read books that have taken on a special importance in our lives.  Maybe it’s because we are going through something in our lives that make us more open or vulnerable.  Or maybe it’s because a particular book has characters or themes that we can relate to or that influence us.  Whatever the reason, we can all name books that have made an impact on us.  These books tend to leave a lasting impression, changing our outlook on life or renewing our hope in the future.library is hospital

Ann Hood touches on this idea in her fictional work The Book that Matters Most.  This compelling novel follows the middle-aged Ava as she tries to piece her life together following the shocking betrayal and divorce from her husband.  As if by fate, a spot in a popular book club, led by her dear friend, opens up.  We become traveling companions on Ava’s journey as she evaluates her life through the books and discussions of the book club.  But, when the members’ reading list is decided by each person’s “book that matters most”, the intrigue for Ava and us as readers begins.  Ava’s book choice leads her and her daughter, Maggie, on a journey of rediscovery.  The subplot of Ava’s daughter, Maggie, initially seemed to pull the story in a different direction. But in the end, Ann uses these multiple threads to masterfully weave together an intriguing novel.

The Book that Matters Most is easy to read and and full of authentic characters.  Warning: the subplot of Maggie is full of drug use and sex and I found myself aggravated with her at every turn.  Life is full of choices and I can’t understand people or characters wasting that life on such self destructive behaviors.

That aside, I did enjoy how this story made me contemplate the books that have mattered to me.  good bookFrom the books that hooked me on reading at a young age to the books whose characters have become my friends and their world my escape, books have been my constant companions for many years.  Ann understands this relationship people have with books and uses it as a wonderful foundation for The Book that Matters Most.

 

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